Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Philosophy of Science: Science in Society
Code PHIL240
Coordinator Dr IM Markolefas
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 5 FHEQ First Semester 15


Students will have a basic, but comprehensive understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry, including its difference from other forms of inquiry, its specific methodology, the nature of scientific explanation, and the ways in which scientific claims or theories can be justified or assessed. They will also become aware of the debates surrounding the overall aim of science to provide a comprehensive worldview.

Students will become aware of the social-historical dimension of scientific practice, understanding how and why scientific theories change over time and realising that science is situated within a broader social and cultural context.

Students will be exposed to some important incidents and episodes in the history of science (as well as to contemporary issues concerning scientific practice and its social impact) and will be able to discuss and assess them in a critical manner informed by philosophical analysis.

Students will be able to participate in import ant contemporary debates about the role of science and technology in our society.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will be able to identify, explain, and evaluate some of the most important rival philosophical accounts of the structure, methodology, and outcome of scientific inquiry.

(LO2) Students will understand and learn how to use key notions in philosophy of science and study the works of some of the major contributors to the field.

(LO3) Students will become aware of the social-historical dimension of science and acquire the proper conceptual framework to assess the epistemological importance of this dimension.

(LO4) Students will gain an understanding of the impact of science to society through technology and explore in a philosophically articulate way this complex interface between epistemology and moral/political philosophy.

(LO5) Students will be able to discuss and evaluate critically claims and arguments pertaining to the role of science within society.

(LO6) Students will be able to write coherently and rigorously about philosophical issues raised by scientific practice.

(S1) Students will enhance their abilities in reading and understanding texts and in comprehending abstract material.

(S2) Students will develop their skills in thinking critically, analysing problems and reconstructing and evaluating arguments.

(S3) Students will enhance their ability to identify complex issues that underlie debates from a variety of perspectives.

(S4) Students will develop their ability to sift through information, assessing the relevance and importance of the information to what is at issue.

(S5) Students will enhance their written communications skills and develop skill in explaining complex material in a precise manner.

(S6) Students will develop their ability to understand a particular case by applying a general theoretical framework.



Science & Non-Science: The Demarcation Problem
Scientific Methodology
Scientific Explanation
Scientific Theory Change
The Realism-Anti-realism Debate in Science
The Scientific Worldview
Technology and its relation to Science
Science against Ideology
Science as Ideology
Ideological/Political Critiques of Science
Science and Public Policy
Science and Social/Political Power

Reading material will be accessible though the module reading list and VITAL. The student will be expected to complete some designated reading in preparation for seminars.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

‘Standard’ delivery is campus-based. Variants for hybrid/online teaching are given below.

Teaching Method 1 - Lecture (asynchronous and online)
Description - 1x1 hour lecture per week (except Week 10). Lectures are tutor-led activities, offering a map of the syllabus and a framework for independent enquiry-led research. Students are encouraged to engage actively with lectures through, for example: (i) taking opportunities to ask questions during the session; (ii) reflecting on and responding to questions posed to them; (iii) producing questions and notes on issues for subsequent group discussion in seminars.
Attendance Recorded - Yes

Teaching Method 2 - Seminar (synchronous; online or on campus, as required)
Description - 1x1 hour seminar per week (except Week 10). Seminars are formative spaces of applied and enquiry-led learning based on pre-set readings and facilitated by the tutor. Seminars thus offer opportunities for students to respond to tutor- and peer-set questions, deepen understanding, apply ideas, develop arguments and build confidence through group discussion. One or two students take the lead each week through peer-teaching, delivering presentations based on their own enquiries and identification of questions and issues.
Attendance Recorded - No

Teaching Method 3 - Workshop (synchronous; online or on campus, as required)
Description - 1x2 hours workshop in Week 10 (per seminar group). The workshop will be dedicated to the in-depth discussion of some important historical episode or contemporary issue that raises both epistemological and moral/political questions. It will offer an opportunity for applied and formative work.
Attendance Recorded - No

Self-directed learning - Reading primary and secondary texts and online support materials. Preparing for seminars. Preparing the essay and studying for the examination.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 10



Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 128


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Assessment description - Case Study Assessment type - written exam. Take-home in hybrid/online teaching and digitally submitted. Reassessment Opportunity - Yes Penalty for late submission - Late su  24    50       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Assessment description - Course essay Reassessment opportunity - Yes Penalty for late submission - Standard UoL penalty applies Anonymous assessment - Yes    50       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.