Department of Sociology

Syllabus for Philosophy of Science for Social Scientists

Philosophy of Science for Social Scientists


Decisions and guidelines

This course is a compulsory skill course within the Master Programme in the Social Sciences.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student should:

• be able to discuss and account for epistemological problems in relation to social scientific concept formation and methodology.

• be able to describe generally the development of ideas in the philosophy of the social sciences.

• be able to carry out a critical analysis of the theoretical foundations within different areas of the social sciences.


The course aims to give a basic orientation in epistemology and the philosophy of science. The lectures will provide a deeper understanding of epistemological issues and problems that are fundamental for modern social scientific concept formation and construction of methods. On the basis of this understanding, the aim of the course is to give the students the prerequisites to be able to discuss and communicate between different subjects and scientific traditions.

Seminars deal with classical and contemporary original texts from different theoretical traditions, such as positivism, critical rationalism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, post structuralism, feminism and social constructivism. With this background, the students should be able to systematically reflect on their own research fields in a larger philosophical, historical and theoretical context. On the basis of these texts different issues are discussed: What is a scientific fact? What is meant by concepts such as knowledge and objectivity? What is the relationship between science and values in the social sciences? What does the possible distinctive character of the social sciences consist of?


The teaching can consist of lectures, lessons, group exercises and seminars.


The course is examined through written assignments and active seminar participation. Ranked grades are given for the course.

Reading list

Applies from: week 35, 2009