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Philosophy of Science for the Social Sciences

7.5 credits

Course period: October 30, 2017- January 14, 2018

The course is offered as a free standing course for the social sciences. The course is offered jointly with the School of Economics and Management, Lund University. The language of instruction will be English or Swedish, depending on the student group.

The course aims to provide a critical introduction to some of the classical texts and contemporary debates in the philosophy of the social sciences. The course begins with a series of lectures that discuss the history of the field, as well as the four main contemporary positions.

Two lectures discourse on the conceptual Enlightenment origins of the social sciences, the breakthrough with theorists as Comte, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and the 20th century theory of science with i.a. positivism, Popper and Kuhn. Thereafter four lectures deal with contemporary positivism, constructivism broadly understood, critical social science, and realism. Thereafter a series of eight seminars are concerned with specific themes and debates within the philosophy of the social sciences.

Examples of themes are the fact-value distinction, agency, or the philosophy of social science at work in research design. At each seminar a group of students makes an oral presentation on the theme, and all students prepare a short text on “how this problem is relevant in my dissertation project?

On completion of the course, the student shall be able to

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the philosophy of the social sciences as an intellectual tradition and activity,
  • critically examine different contributions within the philosophy of the social sciences and their impact on various social science traditions,
  • discuss key concepts within the field and their relevance for the conduct of social scientific inquiry,
  • formulate a stance on various schools within the philosophy of the social sciences,
  • address relevant scientific issues of the philosophy of the social sciences in his/her own dissertation project.
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Course information

Course coordinator
Helle Rydström

Course administrator
Helena Falk


Reading list
Course syllabus


Map of lecture halls

Application instructions autumn courses

In order to apply for the Faculty PhD courses, please complete this form.

Please discuss these courses with your supervisor before completing the form.

The last day to register for courses beginning in the autumn 2017 is normally one month before the course starts, though this depends on the availability of spots.

Late application is still possible as long as there are available spots.

Once you have submitted your application we will contact you in order to confirm your place on the course. Please also note that a course may be cancelled if not enough participants apply.


If the number of applicants exceeds available places, applicants are prioritised as follows*:

  1. Doctoral students from the Faculty of Social Sciences, Lund University
  2. Doctoral students from other faculties at Lund University
  3. External doctoral students

Please note: Applicants from other faculties* at LU and universities are required to pay a fee. The current fee is 8500 SEK for each PhD course offered by the Faculty.

*This fee and ranking does not pertain to LUSEM doctoral students taking the Research Ethics course. LUSEM doctoral students will be admitted on the same conditions as doctoral students at the Faculty of Social Sciences. There will be no fee for LUSEM doctoral students.