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Philosophy of Science


All scientific research is conducted against a background conception of science: what it is and what it should be like. Frequently, however, this conception remains implicit – but this does not mean that it is incapable of guiding the inquiry. This course discusses and analyses the most important presuppositions of current conceptions of social science. Attention will be paid to a number of core questions pertaining to social scientific research and its epistemology. Related to this, we will also discuss ethical aspects of conducting social scientific research.

Course objectives

The objective of this course is to make students first of all familiar with important works and fundamental debates in the tradition of thinking on social science research and ethics and to enable them to critically assess their own research projects in that light. In addition, they should be able to construe and communicate philosophical arguments about the strengths and weaknesses of various kinds of social science research.



Mode of instruction

Seminar sessions with presentations and discussions.

Course Load

Literature study: about 100 hours
Seminar sessions: 14 hours (2 hours per week x 7 weeks)
Assignment writing: about 20 hours
Preparation of presentation: about 6 hours

Total course load: 140 hours (5 ECTS x 28 hours)

Assessment method

Written assignments


Yes, BlackBoard provides basic information on the course and background information.
The BlackBoard-site will be available about two weeks before the start of the course.

Reading list



See Preliminary Info.


Please note that students themselves are responsible to obtain the required readings (mostly widely available books). For all sessions, including the first (!), reading the literature in advance is strictly required. More information will be provided on BlackBoard.