IHMJ1101 Theory of Science Online Course (3–5 cr)

Study level:
Postgraduate studies
Grading scale:
Pass - fail
Responsible organisation:
Faculty of Education and Psychology
Curriculum periods:
2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023


This course is situated in the Moodle environment of the University of Jyväskylä. Participants can do it remotely and at their own pace. Science is explored from the traditional perspective of philosophy of science but also from the perspectives of psychology of science and sociology of science. Many contents are theoretical and abstract but they are discussed in down to earth way. Most online assignments require participants to ponder theory of science questions of their own research. Also, participants are expected to apply theories and concepts presented in the course materials to the context of their own research. Contents: 

1. Theory of science generally and its sub-fields. Demarcation between science and pseudoscience. Definition of science and the scientific method. Objectivity of science.

2. The nature of perception and illusion. The heuristics and biases of human cognition.

3. The concepts of knowledge and truth.

4. Philosophy of science positions: realism, relativism, social constructivism, pragmatism, phenomenology, hermeneutics.

5. Theories and models.

6. Scientific inference and explaining.

7. Concepts and definitions.

8. Quantitative and qualitative research. Scientific experiments and measurement. Understanding and meanings in human sciences.

9. The quality of research. Basics of validity and reliability.

10. The progress of science and scientific world view.

Learning outcomes

· Participants gain a deeper understanding about the nature of scientific research.

· Participants master the basic concepts of theory of science (theory and model, types of scientific inference and explanation, scientific experiment and measurement, etc.).

· Participants know how to avoid most common problems in defining concepts.

· Participants gain a deeper understanding about the metalevel (philosophical) background assumptions and challenges of their own research project.

· Participants general knowledge of science is widened. They understand and respect the differences of scientific disciplines of different kinds. 

Additional information

To complete the course and get 3 ECTS, participants are required to:

• Actively engage with the course materials and discussions,

• Answer essay assignments associated with most topics. Both online and file upload answers are possible. The length of the answers should be from half page to one page.

• Comment the answers of peers to three special essay assignments ("My Position", "My Definition" and "Quality of My Research").

• There are 12 assignments altogether!

To get 5 ECTS and/or personal feedback to one’s research project, participants are required to have a presentation in a workshop.

Completion methods

Method 1

Evaluation criteria:
will be agreed upon in each study attainment
Select all marked parts
Parts of the completion methods

Participation in teaching (3–5 cr)

Participation in teaching
Grading scale:
Pass - fail