SV9105 – Philosophy of social science

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course offers PhD candidates at the Faculty of Social Sciences instruction in key philosophical questions related to the stated and unstated premises of the respective disciplines in terms of epistemology, methodology, ethics and history. In addition, the course will give candidates the opportunity to reflect on the role they will be socialized into as new research fellows with the requirements and expectations this entails.

Learning outcome

The main purpose of instruction in the philosophy of science is to strengthen doctoral candidates’ ability for reflection and to enrich their research education.

This entails:

  • developing candidates’ knowledge of the distinctive character, strengths and limitations of their own discipline including in the encounter with other disciplines and other sectors of society;
  • developing candidates’ ability for critical thinking, including their ability to reflect on their own discipline and own research from different external academic perspectives;
  • educating in this way researchers who combine scientific strength and authority with academic maturity, whereby the understanding of the limitations of their own discipline and the value of other perspectives will always remain with them in their work as doctors of philosophy both within and outside academia.


The course is compulsory for all candidates on the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

PhD Candidates must each semester register in Studentweb for the courses and exams they wish to take.

The deadline for course registration for the mandatory Faculty component is Februrary 1 and September 1. 


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission to the course is dependent on admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo. 

Overlapping courses


A 4 credits course taught over 2 semesters

This course is a 4 credits course taught over 2 semesters.

It is mandatory to attend the teaching in an autumn semester and in a spring semester. The Faculty recommends that you attend the teaching in two consecutive semesters. After your second semester of attending the course you can hand in your exam essay.

Taught over three days each semester

The course will be taught for three days both autumn (week 42: Monday-Wednesday) and spring (week 10: Monday-Wednesday).

The first day consists of lectures. The second and third days are thematic days, with shorter lectures, disciplinary or interdisciplinary group discussions, and/or panels.

The candidates are expected to participate actively during the lectures, seminars and group discussions.

75% attendance on all instruction days is compulsory for SV9105. Approved compulsory attendance is a prerequisite for submitting the exam essay. See also Guidelines for compulsory activities.


Examination takes place after you have attended the second semester of the course. The essay is to be submitted through Inspera.

The examination consists of an essay

You can choose between the following options for an essay:

  • a topic drawn from one of the thematic days


  • a discussion of principal challenges related to methods and/or theories used in your phd project


  • reflections on some classical/basic question in the philosophy of the social sciences

Formal guidelines

  • Minimum 4000 words, maximum 8000 words. Cover page, abstract, illustrations and list of references come in addition. 
  • Times New Roman, font size 12, and a line and paragraph spacing of 1.5.
  • For source references and quotations, please use a style template established for your own discipline

Language of examination

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

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.

The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Resit an examination

If the Fail grade is awarded, the candidate can submit a new assignment for evaluation within the deadline for the following semester.

If a student falls ill while writing the semester assignment, he/she must contact the administration at the latest the day before the submission deadline. Documentation of legitimate absence must be included along with the application for deferred submission of assignment, see section 5.5. of the Regulations governing studies and examinations at the University of Oslo.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


Feedback from our students is essential if we are to offer the best possible courses and programmes of study. We carry out continuous evaluation of this course, and at regular intervals we request students to participate in a more comprehensive, periodic evaluation of the course.

Facts about this course






Covers two semesters, starting every spring and autumn


Spring and autumn

Teaching language