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Psychology and Science


Entry requirements



This course offers an introduction to the main concepts and developments within classical epistemology, addressing the question of how knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is established. Considerable attention is also paid to the various forms of reasoning used within (and outside) science, the errors (fallacies) that may occur, and the different ways in which people try to convince others. Attention is also given to examples of fraud in science and ethical considerations concerning participation in experiments.

Course objectives

Knowledge and understanding:
1. Knowledge and understanding of the main ideas on the nature of scientific knowledge, and the way in which science has developed in the course of history.
2. Knowledge of the main forms of reasoning used within science and beyond. This also prepares for the profession of researcher (and beyond) because forms of reasoning play a crucial part in this profession.
3. Applying knowledge and understanding of basic skills in analysing and understanding types of logical reasoning, and the errors (fallacies) that may occur, in combination with skill in recognising different methods of persuasion (rhetoric). This also prepares for the profession of researcher, in which the application of forms of reasoning and the ability to recognize fallacies plays a crucial part.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis. You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from July. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December.
The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC). First year Bachelor students as well as premaster students will be registered by the Student Service Center; they do not need to register themselves.

The registration period for all courses closes five calendar days before the start of the course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour lectures and 4 2-hour work group sessions.

In the first 4 lectures, the 'Chapters on Philosophy of Science and Logic' and the parts of ‘Critical Thinking’ related to the philosophy of science and logic are discussed. The remaining lectures focus on Critical Thinking (in particular with respect to fallacies and persuasion) and a final lecture is devoted to questions raised by students.

There are 4 work group sessions, running parallel to the first 4 lectures. The work group sessions cover topics from philosophy of science, along with the logic involved. A work group consists of 1 instructor and a maximum of 24 students (2 tutorial groups combined). Work groups meet weekly on 4 occasions. This means each student attends 4 sessions in total. Attendance is mandatory, and students are graded on it. The work group grade is included in the calculation of the final grade.

Assessment method

The course material will be examined with a multiple choice (MC) exam and open questions that have to be answered during the practice sessions. This holds for course objectives 1 and 2. Course objective 3 is also tested with open questions that have to be answered during the practice sessions. The materials to be studied for the examination consist of chapters from the reading list (books) and lecture material, as assigned by the instructor. The examination consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. The grade for the work group sessions is included in the calculation of the final grade. The calculation of the final grade is described in the course workbook. The MC exam weighs for 70% and the practice course weighs for 30% in the overall grade. However, for each (MC exam and final result of practice course) a minimum result of a 5 must be obtained.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation and compulsory attendance. It also follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these three policies.

Reading list

Prof. F. van der Velde. Chapters on Philosophy of Science and Logic. Available on Brightspace.

Chapters from:
Moore, B. N. & Parker, R. (2016). Critical Thinking (12th edition). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-1-259-921315
Course work book for the work group sessions: Available on Brightspace. .

Contact information

Dr. Z. Sjoerds and Dr. S. Uithol PsychologyAndScience@fsw.leidenuniv.nl