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Unit information: Philosophy of Science in 2021/22

Unit name Philosophy of Science
Unit code PHIL30049
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Grose
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines central issues in contemporary general philosophy of science. It would complement units offered in philosophy of particular sciences but is designed as a stand-alone unit focusing on scientific methodology and epistemology. Topics studied include: falsificationism and induction; probability and Bayesian confirmation; scientific explanation; scientific revolutions; underdetermination; laws of nature; realism versus antirealism; science and risk. The unit does not assume either previous study of philosophy of science or experience of studying science, although it does demand a willingness to become familiar with illustrative examples, from science, of the philosophical issues. Suggested initial background reading: Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction, Samir Okasha (2002, OUP).

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss key debates within the philosophy of natural science. Topics include Scientific Confirmation, Explanation, Underdetermination, Scientific Revolutions, Probability and Bayesian approaches, Laws, Realism.
  2. Critically assess arguments made in the relevant philosophical literature.
  3. Explain, in a written argument, the strengths and weaknesses of positions taken within these debates.
  4. Communicate these arguments with clear, fluent writing.
  5. Develop and demonstrate research skills.

Teaching Information

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Information

FORMATIVE: digital presentation designed to test ILOs 1-5 + SUMMATIVE: one take home open book exam designed to test the intended learning outcomes. - 100% (Tests ILOs 1-4)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHIL30049).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.