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Philosophy of Science and the City


Admission requirements

This course is available for students in the BA Urban Studies programme and to a limited amount of external students.


Urban Studies has a strong interdisciplinary profile: it combines theories and methods of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Successful work in Urban Studies requires students to understand the differences between sciences of these families, their strengths and weaknesses, what formats of knowledge they deliver, and how they can be integrated. The course “Philosophy of Science” is the venue within the BA programme in which students explore these basic methodological issues. It opens with a comparison of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities: we discuss the ways in which these disciplines engage with their objects and the forms of knowledge that they produce. Later, the course examines key problems of present-day philosophy of science. These include observation, theory, explanation, law, falsification, paradigm, revolution, and interpretation. The course helps students of Urban Studies recognize, appreciate, and assess contributions made by different scientific and academic disciplines to our understanding of a complex reality.

Course objectives

The student is able to:

  • 1) describe and discuss typical features of the natural sciences, social sciences, and 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;

  • 2) apply basic knowledge on key concepts in present-day philosophy of science, modern debates in philosophy of science, and important contributions to philosophy of science.

  • 3) assess contributions to Urban Studies from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and sketch ways to combine and integrate these contributions.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Tutorial (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every tutorial session of the course. If a student is unable to attend a tutorial or lecture, they should inform the lecturer in advance, providing a valid reason for absence. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If they are absent from a tutorial without a valid reason, they can be excluded from the final exam in the course.

Assessment method


  • Midterm exam
    Written examination with essay questions and up to 50% multiple choice questions

  • Final exam
    Written examination with essay questions and up to 50% multiple choice questions


Partial grade Weighing
Midterm Exam 20
Final Exam 80

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of the midterm exam grade and final exam grade.

  • The weighted average of the midterm exam grade and the final exam grade needs to be 5.50 or higher.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or one of the exam grades is lower than 5.50, there is a possibility of retaking the written examination material, replacing the previous exam grade(s).

Faculty regulations concerning participation in resits are listed in article 4.1 of the Faculty Course and Examination Regulations.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

A selection of articles and other literature items. Details will be placed on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof.dr. J.W. McAllister Drs. A.W. Martin