FIL2900 – Major - Philosophy of Science

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In the spring semesters of 2022 and 2023, the course will run as an interdisciplinary course developed by Centre for Philosophy and the Sciences (CPS) supported by UiO:LifeScience. The aim is to bring students from philosophy and other fields together and add an extra dimension of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills. The course will address philosophical topics that arise in the life sciences. Examples are “what is good scientific evidence in medicine?”, “how to understand a scientific model”, “explanation and biological complexity”. The course will also address philosophical questions that arise from new life science fields, such as systems biology, synthetic biology, and bionano science. The course will receive extra funding in 2022 and 2023. The interdisciplinary profile of the course may be extended for further terms.

The course focuses on selected topics in the philosophy of science. Contents may vary between general philosophy of science and philosophical problems connected to specific sciences, such as biology or physics. Relevant topics may be:

  • scientific explanation
  • causality
  • scientific realism (to what degree are scientific truths and the objects of science objective?)
  • the biological species concept
  • philosophical problems regarding the theory of evolution
  • space and time
  • interpretations of Quantum mechanics

Learning outcome

After having completed this course, you should be able to:

  • document a solid understanding of problems in the philosophy of science
  • understand and evaluate different perspectives critically and by using arguments
  • demonstrate an overview of differences, similarities and connections between different perspectives in the general philosophy of science or specific sciences such as biology or physics.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

We recommend you take either FIL1002 - Introduction to epistemology and philosophy of science or a similar course, or that you take one or several courses in life science/natural science (for example medicine, biology, chemistry or physics) first. Students with other backgrounds but with an interest in philosophy and life science are also welcome to take the course.


6 double sessions with lectures and 6 double sessions with seminars. The course has the following compulsory tuition activities:

  • Mandatory presence at the seminars (you must be present a minimum 4 out of 6 times). (Due to the pandemic, this will not be a requirement in the spring 2022).
  • A draft for the components in the portfolio (see Canvas for deadlines).
  • Commenting on a fellow student's draft (peer review).
  • Short weekly assignments (This replaces mandatory presence. More information will be given in Canvas.)

All the activities must be completed and judged satisfactory in order to be able to take the exam.

This is how you apply for valid absence from / postponement of obligatory activities.


A portfolio exam of 10-12 pages in total which consists of 2 essays of 5-6 pages each, literature list and footnotes not included. You submit the portfolio in Inspera within the given deadline. Supervision will be given.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)