Lancaster UniversityGraduate School
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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FASS507d Introduction to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (online distance learning)


Module description

  • empiricism, positivism and falsificationism
  • an introduction to post-empiricist philosophy of science, especially Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend
  • explanation in the social sciences
  • the varieties of interpretivist philosophy of social science
  • the debates surrounding a realist philosophy of science

critical social science

the feminist critique of the objectivity of science

the relevance and application of these debates to a variety of social sciences


Aims and objectives

FASS507 provides an introduction to the philosophy of the social sciences by exploring the following questions:

  • What claims to knowledge are made by science?
  • Can social science make similar claims to natural science to be a science?
  • What other philosophical foundations might social science use to establish its claims to systematic knowledge?
  • How does social science relate to values and politics?
  • How does the philosophy of social science relate to different social sciences?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of different philosophies of social science?

By the end of the course students should be able to understand the crucial differences between different philosophical perspectives on the practice of social science, and be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of how their research might constitute a claim to knowledge.


Timing and Location





Number of sessions:

10 x 2.5 hours

Timing and Location:

online distance learning


Additional information

Minimum quota: 6

Maximum quota: 30



Coursework and Assessment

Coursework requirements

1 x 5000 word paper on the philosophy of the social sciences, related to student's own research discipline and topic.

Coursework due dates


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