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Unit information: Philosophy of Science in 2021/22

Unit name Philosophy of Science
Unit code PHILM0033
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
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

Philosophy of science examines philosophical questions that arise in relation to scientific enquiry. What constitutes a good explanation? When, if ever, can we trust inductive reasoning? Are there laws of nature? What is a model? How do scientific theories change? Are theories always underdetermined by evidence? Do scientific theories tell the truth about the world? How should we measure and assess risk? How do probabilistic forms of reasoning work? What is the role of analogy in scientific reasoning? What philosophical issues arise in relation to simulation and experimentation?

In this unit we examine central topics in contemporary, generalist philosophy of science. This unit complements units in particular sciences (e.g. Physics and Biology) but is a stand-alone unit, focusing on metaphysical, methodological and epistemological questions that cut across the sciences.

The unit therefore aims to:

  • Give students a strong understanding of metaphysical, methodological and epistemological philosophical problems that arise across the sciences.
  • Give students a broad awareness of latest developments in the field.
  • Introduce students to sources, methods and concepts underpinning these developments.
  • Prepare students for undertaking independent advanced-level research in the field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Articulate key debates and concepts within the philosophy of natural science.
  2. Critically assess positions and arguments within these debates.
  3. Construct persuasive philosophical arguments appropriate to level M.
  4. Demonstrate advanced philosophical and research skills (e.g. clear and concise presentation of ideas, constructing and evaluating arguments, carrying out independent research).

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

Summative Assessment:

Philosophical essay, 6,000 words (100%). [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. PHILM0033).

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.