- Student Records
Programme & Unit Catalogues


SP20069: Philosophy of the social sciences

[Page last updated: 11 August 2020]

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2020/1
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW100
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
SP20069 Re-assessment Only (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: Before taking this module you must take SP10044
Description: Aims:
This course aims to demonstrate the significance of philosophical perspectives in the social sciences that underpin the creation of knowledge and empirical research. It does this by examining key issues in the philosophy of the social sciences and by mapping the different approaches. Students should learn to critically discuss postmodern claims of 'diversity' of knowledge and 'uncertainty' of truth in science in relation to methodological claims for objectivity and 'truth' in scientific knowledge. They should learn about the values of social theory in relation to empiricism and positivism.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the unit the students should be able to:
* identify the philosophical approach that underpins empirical data and scientific knowledge;
* critically discuss the claims for truth of scientific knowledge;
* reflect on ethical issues of philosophical approaches;
* understand diversity of philosophical approaches and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses;
* understand the values of social theory,
* understand the emergence of the social sciences and place current trends in historical context;
* link classic approaches in the philosophy of social sciences to contemporary writing and empirical questions.
The unit aims to foster the following skills:
* understanding abstract texts and queries;
* reading and understanding original work, including writing of early sociologists;
* analytical skills;
* reflective learning skills;
* developing an own standpoint regarding methodology;
* discussing pros and cons of different philosophical approaches;
* group-work skills.
* These skills will also be very useful for your dissertation and for understanding the particular strength and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Skills:
Intellectual skills:
* To think creatively and analytically
* To communicate an argument
* To evaluate others' arguments and research
* To critically evaluate and assess research and evidence as well as a variety of other information
* To gather information, data, research and literature from a number of different sources (i.e. library, web-based, archives etc.).
* To select appropriate and relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge
* To synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding
* To utilise problem solving skills
Professional Practical skills:
* To effectively and efficiently apply principles of sociological/social policy analysis within a variety of environments
Transferable/Key skills:
* Study and Learning skills (note taking, avoiding plagiarism, using the library, gathering and using information, constructing a bibliography, referencing)
* Basic Information and Computing Technology skills (word processing, email, using the web to search for information)
* Inter-personal and communication skills
* Essay research, preparation and writing skills
* To construct a bibliography of varying complexity
* Revision and Examination skills
* Time-management and administrative skills
* Presentation skills and verbal communication (i.e. oral presentations, seminar and tutorial contributions)
* To reflect upon his/her own academic and professional performance and take responsibility for personal and professional learning and development.
* To solve problems in a variety of situations
* To manage time effectively and respond to changing demands.
* To prioritise workloads, and utilise long- and short-term planning skills.

Content:
The course will examine positivist models of scientific method and the interpretivist tradition in sociology as well as new approaches that highlight the social construction and context-dependency of knowledge, including Popper, Kuhn, Durkheim, Weber, culture/language sensitive approaches and feminist epistemology; it also comprises examples on how to apply epistemological questions to contemporary issues of society, such as for instance New Public Management.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

SP20069 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 2)

SP20069 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • UHPL-AYB13 : BA(Hons) French and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB12 : BA(Hons) German and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB16 : BA(Hons) Italian ab initio and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AYB17 : BA(Hons) Spanish and Politics with Year Abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AFB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AAB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AKB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AAB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Year long work placement (Year 2)
Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB14 : BSc(Hons) Applied Social Studies (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AFB21 : BSc(Hons) International Development with Economics (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AKB21 : BSc(Hons) International Development with Economics with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHSP-AFB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences (Year 2)
  • UHSP-AKB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 2)

Notes: