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Philosophy of Science


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


Anyone who works in International Studies must be able to recognize, assess, and combine contributions made by different scientific and academic disciplines to our understanding of a complex reality. To do this, one must have an overview of the outlook and methods of the social sciences and humanities, the ways in which these disciplines engage with their objects, and the forms of knowledge that they produce.

Philosophy of science is the philosophical study of the presuppositions, concepts, methods, and output of the sciences. This course opens with a comparison of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities: it studies the ways in which these disciplines engage with their objects and the forms of knowledge that they produce. Later, the course examines key issues and problems of present-day philosophy of science. These include observation, theory, explanation, law, falsification, paradigm, and revolution. The course helps students of International Studies recognize, appreciate, and assess contributions made by different scientific and academic disciplines to our understanding of a complex reality.

Course objectives

A student successfully completing this course has knowledge of and insight in the following topics:

  • Typical features of the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities; elements of the historical development of these disciplines; characteristics of the methods that they pursue and the knowledge that they yield; the differences between them;

  • Key concepts, issues, and problems in present-day philosophy of science, including observation, induction, theory, explanation, law of nature, falsification, paradigm, and revolution;

  • Some modern debates in philosophy of science concerning the above concepts;

  • The contributions to philosophy of science of some important thinkers, including Karl R. Popper and Thomas S. Kuhn.

A student successfully completing this course has the skills to:

  • Give an account of the similarities and differences between scientific and academic disciplines belonging to the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities;

  • Give an account of the key concepts, issues, and problems listed above, as well as of the debates concerning them and the contributions of the important philosophers of science named above;

  • Choose and motivate views and assessments of his or her own with relation to all the above.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; bi-weekly tutorials. Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover both issues discussed in the readings, and issues outside of the readings.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs

  • Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per two weeks: 12 hrs

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs

  • Time for Reading & self-study: 40 hrs

  • Time for Preparing end-term exam: 22 hours

  • Time for Research & paper writing: 38 hours

Assessment method


The exams are in the form of multiple choice questions.


The final grade consists of a grade for

  • the tutorials (30%),

  • the midterm exam (20%)

  • the endterm exam (50%).
    To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
    To pass the course, the average of mid- and end term exams (70%) has to be 5.5 at least.


If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

A selection of articles and other literature items. Details will be circulated during the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For tutorials
Dr. J.W. McAllister