autumn 2024
SVF-8054 Theory of Science - 7 ECTS

Type of course

The course may be taken as a singular course.

PhD students at UiT register for class and exam i Studentweb by September 1st for autumn semester.

Othes apply by June 1st for autumn semester. The application code in Søknadsweb 9301.

Admission requirements

PhD students or holders of a Norwegian Master´s Degree of five years or 3+ 2 years (or equivalent) may be admitted. PhD students must upload a document from their university stating that they are registered PhD students.

Holders of a Master´s Degree must upload a Master´s Diploma with Diploma Supplement / English translation of the diploma. Applicants from listed countries must document proficiency in English. To find out if this applies to you see the following list:

For more information on accepted English proficiency tests and scores, as well as exemptions from the English proficiency tests, please see the following document:

PhD students at UiT register for class and exam i Studentweb by September 1st for autumn semester.Othes apply by June 1st for autumn semester. The application code in Søknadsweb 9301.

Course overlap

If you pass the examination in this course, you will get an reduction in credits (as stated below), if you previously have passed the following courses:

SVF-8600 Philosophy and Ethics of Science 7 ects

Course content

The course consists of two sessions. The first session contains common lectures and supervision within the specialization groups (in humanities, linguistics and social science). The second consists of lectures in specialization groups, student presentation and discussions.

The common lectures includes selected classical topics in the theory of science, with a particular relevance for the study of sociocultural phenomena. They concern

  • What is Theory of Science?
  • Explanation: causal explanation, functional explanation and intentional explanation
  • Explanation and understanding
  • Social facts
  • Reason and causes
  • Methodological individualism versus methodological holism
  • Humans as biological and socio-cultural beings

The specialization lectures discuss central questions such as:

  • How have scholars defined their object of inquiry in different fields and different eras?
  • What sorts of methodologies and sources of data are considered appropriate to answering the central questions of the field?
  • To what extent can humanities/linguistics/social science be considered a science and in which ways do they differ from the hard sciences?
  • What is the role of the researchers and research ethics in humanities/linguistics/social science?

Objectives of the course

The student will have gained knowledge and understanding of:


  • important and influential issues within general theory of science and theory of sciences specific to the student's field
  • key conceptual and methodological issues within the theory of science
  • methodological, epistemological and ontological assumptions that are involved in these issues


  • The students will be able to identify, reason about and take a stand on relevant issues related to the theory of science in their own research project and other scientific works within the students' subject area.

General competence

  • The students will be able to participate in an informed way in the public debate on issues related to the theory of science.


Language of instruction and examination

The language of instruction is English, depending on the composition of the student group the teaching could be in Norwegian.

The paper can be submitted in English, Norwegian, Danish or Swedish.

Teaching methods

The instruction involves class attendance and is organized in two seminars:

  • First session: Common part
  • Second session: Specialized parts. The students may choose the specialization corresponding to their research interests (social sciences, humanities or linguistics)



Examination: Date: Duration: Grade scale:
Assignment 08.11.2024 14:00 (Hand in) 1 Semesters Passed / Not Passed

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Participation and attendance Approved – not approved
Reflection paper Approved – not approved
A preliminary draft Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

  • Submit a reflection paper 1-2 pages (see form) before the first session.
  • Submit a preliminary draft of their paper 3-5 pages before the second session (specialization). Every student must present their draft before his/her fellow students and the leader of the group. Every student must give oral feed-back on the draft of another student.
  • Participation and 80% attendance are obligatory.

The assessment of the work requirements is made on an approved/not approved basis.

More info about the assignment

A paper of 3 000-3 750 words. The paper must present a critical reflection and discussion of issues in the theory of science of relevance to the student's doctoral thesis, own research, or discipline.

There will be specialist supervision at the end of the first session of the course, to identify the topic of the paper.

The syllabus as well as additional literature should be referred to in the paper.

The examination is evaluated according to the pass/fail grading system.

Re-sit examination

Students who do not pass the previous ordinary examination can gain access to a re-sit examination.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 7
  • Course code: SVF-8054
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet