Skip to main content

Unit information: Philosophy of Social Science in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Philosophy of Social Science
Unit code SPOLD1001
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Bridge
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

To acquaint students with the main currents of philosophical thinking that have influenced social science. To acquaint students with the philosophical assumptions behind key epistemologies and methodologies in social science. Seminars include discussions of positivism; interpretative philosophies; rational choice; Marxism; hermeneutics; critical realism; naturalism; poststructuralism; postmodernism; new constructions of science. The changing relationship of social to natural science receives attention. Other themes are the conceptions of the possibilities of the social via philosophies of consciousness and philosophies of language; the relationship between rationality and culture; changes in the understanding of the subject/subjectivites; changing constructions of the 'social' and 'nature'. Wherever possible explicit links are made between epistemology and methodology of social science.

Unit objectives:

  • To give student an appreciation of the significance of philosophical thinking for an understanding of social science.
  • To make students aware of the different currents of thinking in philosophy that have been particularly influential in social science.
  • To provide a context for future theoretical study.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be conversant and comfortable with the main philosophical ideas in social science. They will have a context for future theoretical enquiry in their thesis research.

Teaching Information

Interactive lectures

Assessment Information

Formal assessment will be by an assignment of 4,000 words (maximum).

Reading and References

  • Baert, P 2005 Philosophy of Social Science: Towards pragmatism Oxford: Polity
  • Flyvberg B 2001 Making Social Science Matter CUP
  • Hollis M 1992 The Philosophy of Social Science Cambridge: CUP
  • Callinicos A 1999 Social Theory: an historical introduction Cambridge: Polity
  • Habermas J 1987 The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity Cambridge: Polity
  • Honderich T ed. 1996 The Oxford Companion to Philosophy Oxford: OUP
  • Bernstein R 1991 The New Constellation Cambridge: Polity
  • Audi R 1996 The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy Cambridge: CUP
  • Latour B 2005 Reassembling the Social Polity
  • Turner B 2001The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory Blackwell