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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL1109 How Science Works

10 creditsClass Size: 78

Module manager: Dr Ellen Clarke

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

- How does science work?We shall try to answer this question by looking at the following four stages of scientific enquiry:- Discovery. Are scientific theories discovered through a 'flash of genius' or is something more methodical involved? How much of scientific discovery is down to careful observation?- Justification. Are observations in science always secure? What is the relationship between theories and data? What roles do models play in science?- Realism. Do theories tell us how the world really is? What lessons should be drawn from the history of science? Are there alternative ways of understanding scientific theories?- Independence. Is science independent of its social context? To what extent is it biased by gender, race or politics? Is there such a thing as truth that is not relative to a particular culture, social class or historical era?Drawing on accessible examples from a variety of different scientific fields and by answering these and related questions, we shall try to come up with a clear picture of how science works.


On completion of this module students should be able to describe and critically assess a range of central issues in philosophy of science.


The module covers a selection of central issues in philosophy of science. The issues covered are typically drawn from topics such as: the nature of scientific discovery; the nature of scientific evidence and justification; the nature of observation and experiments; scientific realism vs. anti-realism; the objectivity of science.
On completion of this module, students should be able to understand some of the main concepts, arguments and positions in philosophy of science; understand introductory writings in philosophy of science; express this understanding in an essay.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours84.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have the opportunity to submit a 500 word essay plan for feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words (end of module)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:26:27


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