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Science Methodology


Science Methodology – Understanding the Principles of Scientific Research

A course for students in natural sciences


Dr. Victor Gijsbers (Institute of Philosophy), (v.gijsbers@hum.leidenniv.nl)

Course Contents

During the BSc and MSc education students learn lots of scientific facts, but do they know how science works? In this course the basic principles of the methodology used in the natural sciences are taught. The aim is to let the student contemplate concepts like ‘truth’, ‘experiments’, ‘models’, ‘confirmation/falsification’, and to make the student aware of the limitations of the ability to make objective observations and judge theories impartially. Current practices, like the mechanisms of research funding, the ‘publish or perish’ dogma, the importance of impact factors, and issues concerning fraud and integrity will also be discussed.
The course is meant for MSc and PhD students in any of the natural sciences who are performing scientific research projects. It will consist of lectures and discussions.

Assessment method:

Examination consists of mandatory participation in class, and two essays.

Learning goals

The aim is to let the student comtemplate concepts like ‘truth’, ‘experiments’, ‘models’, ‘confirmation/falsification’ and make the student aware of the limitations of the ability to make objective observations.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and discussions


February 8th – March 23rd: Mondays 15h30 – 17h15

Reading list


Additional info:

Co-ordinator: Prof. Dr. Marcellus Ubbink (Institute of Chemistry) Tel: 071-5274628, E-mail: m.ubbink@chem.leidenuniv.nl