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spring 2019

SVF-8600 Philosophy of science and ethics - 6 ECTS

Sist endret: 30.08.2019

The course is provided by

Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics


Tromsø |

Application deadline

Application deadline is 1 December. Application code 9304 in SøknadsWeb. Remember to state which course you apply for.

PhD students registered to PhD program at UiT: Apply for admission by registering for class in StudentWeb before 15. December

Type of course

This course is recommended as part of the compulsory credits in philosophy of science and research ethics within the instruction component of the PhD programmes in natural and social sciences.

PhD students registered to PhD program at UiT: Apply for admission by registering for class in StudentWeb before 15. December

Admission requirements

The course is open for students admitted to a PhD programme. Priority will be given to PhD students from the BFE faculty, participants in international project in which the faculty has an educational responsibility, PhD students from the NT faculty, PhD students from other faculties at UiT, and PhD students from UNIS. The number of participants is limited to 36.

Contact Ingjerd Gauslaa Nilsen (Ingjerd.nilsen@uit.no) at the BFE-faculty if you have any questions regarding registration to the course or other queries.

Course content

The course aims to introduce the participants to core issues in the philosophy and ethics of science. The course will convey different concepts and positions regarding the demarcation of science from non-science, the nature of the scientific method, theories of explanation and confirmation, the rationality and progress of theory change, modelling and inference under uncertainty, the role of science and technology in society, and the ethical responsibilities of scientists.

Objectives of the course

By the end of the course students will be expected to understand:

  • the basic issues in the philosophy of science, such as the demarcation problem, the debate among competing accounts of the scientific method, the problem of induction, and the concepts of paradigms and scientific revolutions;
  • the role and place of science and technology in a modern society;
  • various ethical positions and the main ethical issues relating to science.

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • the ability to communicate key philosophical and ethical concepts;
  • the ability to engage in contemporary debates about the nature and role of science;
  • the ability to see their own research in a wider perspective, and to critically reflect upon the basic assumptions and challenges of their research projects.

Language of instruction


Teaching methods

Teaching runs as an intensive course over two weeks with 20 hours of lectures and 12 hours of group discussions and seminars.
NB! You have to participate in at least 80 % of the teaching to be allowed to take the exam. Attendance at lectures will be registered.


Home exam: A written essay of 10 pages to be completed about one month after the course. Grade: pass or fail.

Coursework requirements: Two short exercises.

Date for examination

Written assignment hand out date 22.02.2019 hand in date 22.03.2019

The date for the exam can be changed. The final date will be announced in the StudentWeb early in May and early in November.


Course overlap

BIO-8603 Philosophy of science and ethics 6 stp
HEL-8010 Research Ethics and Theory of Science 3 stp
SVF-8054 Theory of Science 7 stp
SVF-8038 Research Ethics 3 stp
HEL-8040 Theory of science, research ethics and research design 3 stp

Recommended reading/syllabus

Pensumliste for Vitenskapsteori og etikk

Recommended reading/syllabus

The required reading consists of journal articles and book chapters, in total about 350-400 pages. Most of the literature will be made available on Canvas prior to the course start.

All students are advised to read one of the following books before the course starts:

  • Samir Okasha (2016): Philosophy of Science: Very Short Introduction. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Mel Thompson (2012): Understand Philosophy of Science. London: Holder Education.
  • James Ladyman (2002): Understanding Philosphy of Science. London, New York: Routledge.
  • Alex Rosenberg (2012): Philosophy of Science. Third Edition. New York, London: Routledge.

Elina Halttunen

Elina Halttunen

Telefon: +4777646067 elina.halttunen@uit.no

Ingjerd - Branno.png

Nilsen, Ingjerd Gauslaa

Rådgiver, ph.d.-utdanningen
Telefon: +4777646018 ingjerd.nilsen@uit.no


PhD students enrolled at UiT register for the course through StudentWeb

Other applicants apply for admission through SøknadsWeb. Choose the application code 9304 and write the course code (SVF-8600) in the remark field. You'll find a manual for SøknadsWeb here.

Remember to upload documentation of your education or your status as a PhD student. Applicants who can document their status as a PhD student are exempt to pay the semester fee.