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Module descriptions

7AAN2075 Philosophy of Science

THIS MODULE IS RUNNING IN 2017-18          

Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Professor Sherrilyn Roush


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000–3,000-word essay


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000–3,000-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none
Sample syllabus: 7AAN2075 module syllabus 2016-17.
Additional information: 

  • The initial lecture hour will be shared with students taking 6AANA026 Philosophy of Science, but they will otherwise be subject to different requirements

This course in general philosophy of science will address questions like: What is required for observations to support scientific hypotheses? What makes something a scientific explanation? Is a computer simulation as good as an experiment? Is the predictive success of science a reason to believe its theories are true about unobservables? Can science be distinguished from metaphysics? Can biology be reduced to physics? Topics covered include the problem of induction, falsificationism, the problem of auxiliary hypotheses, the advantages and disadvantages of Bayesianism, empiricism, the role of natural law and causes, the pessimistic induction. The scientific examples and probability that we use will be taught in class.

Further information

Module aims

An understanding of debates on the following topics:

  • Logical empiricism, its motivations and difficulties
  • Induction, confirmation and falsification
  • The relationship between observation and theory
  • Kuhn’s views on theory change and scientific rationality
  • Laws of nature and the unity of science
  • Scientific explanation
  • Relationships between theories: reduction and emergence
  • The debate between realism and anti-realism
  • Forms of realism and anti-realism
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a level-7 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate that they:

  • have read closely and gained an understanding of relevant texts
  • are able to summarize arguments and positions
  • are able to support and challenge views and positions by constructing arguments and citing relevant considerations
  • and have formed philosophical views of their own which they are prepared to defend or amend in the light of criticism 
Past syllabi

7AAN2075 module syllabus 2012-13 (pdf)
7AAN2075 module syllabus 2013-14
7AAN2075 module syllabus 2014-15
7AAN2075 module syllabus 2015-16 (pdf)

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

More detailed information on the current year’s module (including the syllabus for that year) can be accessed on KEATS by all students and staff. 

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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