Methodology of Science

General information

Summer term 2019/2020, Thursday, 09:05–10:35, room G20

Course description: The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of the basic concepts pertaining to scientific research, with special regard to social science and the humanities. As students of this course, you will learn how to formulate a research project, design research questions, propose hypotheses and devise methods of hypothesis-testing. Upon finishing the course, you will be able to make an informed opinion on the wider social importance of the scientific enterprise, on the distinction between science and pseudoscience, on the relation between natural and social science (and the humanities), and on the nature of scientific progress.

Syllabus in PDF

Course feedback

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Basic literature

  • Bielik's Methodology of Science: An Introduction (2019)
  • This book is only available in electronic form. You can download it and print the required parts if you like, or put it on a tablet if you have one.

Recommended literature

  • Here's a list of recommended literature.
    • All of the books are available here. You have to download the whole archive by clicking the icon in the upper right corner.
    • The archive is password-protected. I will give you the password in class. You can also e-mail me about it.


    • As always, there's assigned reading for next week – see syllabus.

Exam topics

Click here to see the exam topics.

Obligatory assignment

  • Think of an example of each of these:
    1. existential hypothesis
    2. singular hypothesis
    3. universal hypothesis (with unlimited scope, i.e., potentially infinite number of objects)
  • For each of your examples, derive a prediction (a testable implication of the hypothesis) – i.e., think of a statement the we would test to see if the hypothesis is plausible.
  • For each of your examples, think of a statement that would verify and/or falsify the hypothesis. If there's no such statement, make a comment.
  • Example:
1. Existential hypothesis: "..."
Prediction derived from the hypothesis: "..."
Evidential statement verifying the hypothesis: "..."/"No such statement, because hypotheses of this kind cannot be verified"
Evidential statement falsifying the hypothesis: "..."/"No such statement, because hypotheses of this kind cannot be falsified"

2. Singular hypothesis: "..."
  • Obviously, you can't use any of the examples discussed in class. Also, all of your examples must come from social science/humanities (note that there will be no exceptions – I will ignore any examples coming from natural science).
  • For 1 bonus point:
    • if a hypothesis cannot be verified, provide an example of an evidential statement that confirms the hypothesis
    • if a hypothesis cannot be falsified, provide an example of an evidential statement that disconfirms the hypothesis

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