BASS Sociology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Philosophy of Science

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL20261
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course introduces several major controversies in the philosophy of science and uses them to investigate the nature of science, its methods, and its accomplishments. Topics covered include inductivist vs. falsificationist methodology, Kuhnian relativism, scientific realism, natural kinds, and laws of nature.


Pre-requisites: 20 PHIL credits at Level 1

20 PHIL credits at Level 1.


The course aims to:

- Introduce students to key issues in the philosophy of science.
- Enhance their skills at understanding and evaluating philosophical problems.
- Acquaint students with some of the special concepts used in characterising scientific methodology.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should have:

- Knowledge of some central problems in the philosophy of science and of certain possible solutions to them.
- The ability to assess some received wisdom about the nature and purpose of science and of scientific method.
- An understanding of key philosophical concepts such as inductive reasoning, refutation, confirmation, law of nature, and natural kind.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are only a guidance and may change.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main form of feedback on this course is feedback on your assessed essay, in the form of in-text comments and a general feedback report, both available through Blackboard. You are also welcome to ask the course convenor to give you some feedback on your exam performance.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer and tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer or tutor (before and after lecture/tutorial); and obtaining feedback on your ideas from your peers and tutor during tutorials.

Recommended reading

James Ladyman, Understanding Philosophy of Science (Routledge, 2002) (available as an e-book from the University Library)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jon Wesley Buckwalter Unit coordinator

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