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BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Philosophy of Social Science

Unit code PHIL30022
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will survey some issues that are shared by all of the social sciences and some that are specific to economics and history. Topics covered will include the problem of reflexive predictions, the role of causal explanation in social science and its relation to functional, structural and narrative explanations; reductionism and 'methodological individualism'; the supposed dichotomy of explanation and understanding; conceptual issues in rational choice theory; values, ideology and objectivity in social science.


Pre-requisites: 40 PHIL credits at Level 2


The course aims to:

- provide students with a detailed understanding of some of the issues that make up philosophy of social science.
- to help students come to terms with some central texts in the field
- encourage students to think through these issues for themselves and arrive at well-argued conclusions

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

- a critical understanding of some of the disputes that make up philosophy of social science. 
- a thorough knowledge of some of the central texts of the field
- an ability to write concisely, relevantly and analytically about the issues raised, both in an essay and under examination conditions

Teaching and learning methods

One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week.

Assessment methods


Recommended reading

H. Kincaid, Philosophical Foundations of the Social Sciences (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), or M. Hollis, The Philosophy of Social Science (Cambridge: CUP, 1994)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Thomas Uebel Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Pre-requisites: 40 PHIL credits at Level 2


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