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Philosophy of science for the social sciences


About the course

Important dates and deadlines

Course period: 27 October 2023 - 14 January 2024
Application deadline: 28 September 2023

Click here to apply.


The course aims at introducing a bouquet of classical and contemporary texts in the philosophy of the social sciences as well as influential debates in the field. It provides an overview of the history of the philosophy of the social sciences and of critical contemporary positions in the field.

The conceptual Enlightenment origins of the social sciences; the breakthrough with theorists such as Comte, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim; and the 20th century positivist theory of science are highlighted in the course, as are significant philosophical traditions from hermeneutics and phenomenology to critical theory, constructivism, post-structuralism, postcolonialism, and new materialism. The course thus brings together contesting analytical perspectives on how to grasp, understand, and analyse social worlds.

Throughout the course, course participants are encouraged to reflect upon and consider the ways in which the philosophy of the social sciences could provide an analytical entry to enhance their doctoral research.

The language of instruction will be English or Swedish, depending on the student group.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge about and understanding of the philosophy of the social sciences as an intellectual tradition and activity,
  • Critically examine a range of contributions within the philosophy of the social sciences and their impact on various social science traditions, 
  • Discuss key concepts in the field of the philosophy of the social sciences and their relevance for the conduct of social scientific inquiry and research, 
  • Examine analytical strengths and shortcomings of various schools within the tradition of the philosophy of the social sciences, and 
  • Consider how research questions and problems identified in their dissertation work are related to various schools within the field of the philosophy of the social sciences.

Course Information

Course coordinator
Helle Rydström

Course administrator
Marjaana Kinnunen

The documents below open in a new window.
Course syllabus (PDF 195 kB)
Reading list (PDF 237 kB )

Course schedule: