Course code SDP415

SDP415 Theory of science for environment, development and planning studies

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Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2020 .

Course responsible: Petter Andreas Næss
Teachers: Beata Sirowy, Rani Lill Anjum, Timothy Kevin Richardson, Anne Katrine Geelmuyden, Terje Bent Kvilhaug
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Autumn parallel. In 2020, the course days will be a four day block from 23rd -27th November. This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: 2018H
Preferential right:
PhD students belonging to the PhD programme Society, Development and Planning
Course contents:

The course will present different strands within philosophy of science and involve the course participants in discussions about the implications of each of these meta-theoretical positions for research and professional practice. The positions presented in the lectures will be empiricism, phenomenology, poststructuralism, science and technology studies (STS), and critical realism. In addition, one lecture will elaborate on the concept of causation, whereas the possibilities and limitations of "research by design" will be the subject of another lecture.  

A considerable part of the course will be devoted to discussion of papers written by the participants and submitted to the organizers prior to the course. In order to be able to write the papers, it is important to start reading the required reading of the course early. Reading the required literature before the course starts is also important in order to have good discussions during the course. Each of the participants` papers should address the following two aspects:

  • Your understanding of the concept of causality, and how this understanding is reflected in your PhD project
  • Your understanding of the relationship between knowledge and power, and how this understanding is reflected in your PhD project

The paper presentation sessions make up an important part of the course. Each paper will be commented on by an appointed opponent as well as by the other course participants. The presentation of each paper should last for about 5 minutes, followed by comments by the appointed opponent of 5-10 minutes duration. This leaves time for about 25 minutes of general discussion about each paper within a total time slot of 35-40 minutes per paper.

Learning outcome:
After having completed the course, the Ph.D. students will possess good knowledge of the most important positions within contemporary discourses in philosophy of science relevant to environment, development and planning studies. The course will enable the Ph.D. students to reflect on the implications of alternative positions within philosophy of science for within the various fields of research covered by the Faculty of Landscape and Society. Such ability of reflection is to be documented by writing a paper on a given topic within philosophy of science, and through presentation and discussion of the paper during the course.
Learning activities:
Lectures, seminars, and writing and presentation of a scientific paper
Teaching support:

Required reading

Cross, N. (2006). Designerly ways of knowing. London: Springer. Chapter 1, pp. 1-12 and Chapter 7, pp. 95-100.

Danermark, B.; Ekström, M. & Karlsson, J. C. (2019): Explaining Society, second edition, chapters 2-4. London/New York: Routledge.

Dixon, D. P., and Jones, J. P. III (1998). My dinner with Derrida, or spatial analysis and poststructuralism do lunch. Environment and Planning A, 30(2), pp. 247 - 260.

Finlay, L. (2009). "Debating Phenomenological Research Methods." Phenomenology & Practice, Volume 3, No. 1, pp. 6-25.

Gadamer, H.G. (2004) [1960]. Truth and Method. London and New York: Continuum. "Introduction", pp. XX-XXIV.

Gunder, M. and Hillier, J. (2009). Planning in ten words or less: A Lacanian Entanglement with Spatial Planning, Chapter 1. Farnham: Ashgate.

Joks, S. & Law, J. (2017). Sámi Salmon, State Salmon: TEK, Technoscience and Care. The Sociological Review, 65(2) suppl., pp. 150-171.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2002) [1945]. Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge. "Preface", pp. VII-XXIV.

Moses, J. W., & Knutsen. T. L. (2007). Ways of knowing: competing methodologies in social and political research, pp. 1-52, pp 142-196, and pp. 285-294. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mumford, S. & Anjum, R. L. (2011). Fundamentals of causality. Information Knowledge Systems Management, 10, pp. 75-84,

Mumford, S. & Anjum, R. L. (2011). Effects of context. Information Knowledge Systems Management, 10, pp. 101-110,

Purcell, M. (2013). A new land: Deleuze and Guattari and planning. Planning Theory & Practice, 14(1): 20-38. Available at:

Richardson, T. (2002). Freedom and control in planning: using discourse in the pursuit of reflexive practice. Planning Theory and Practice. 3(3): 353-361. Available at:

Sevaldson, B. (2012). Discussions & Movements in Design Research. A systems approach to practice research in design.  FORMakademisk Vol.3 , nr.1 2010, 8-35.

Verran, H. (2002). A Postcolonial Moment in Science Studies Alternative Firing Regimes of Environmental Scientists and Aboriginal Landowners. Social Studies of Science, 32(5/6), pp. 729-762.

Ween, G. B. (2012). Resisting the imminent death of wild salmon. Local knowledge of Tana fishermen in arctic Norway. In Carothers, C.; Criddle, K.R.; Chambers, C.P. et al. (eds.) Fishing People of the North. Cultures, economies, and management responding to change, pp. 153-171. Fairbanks: University of Alaska.

Master degree in planning, landscape architecture, land management, public health science or another relevant subject with the mark C or better. The candidate must be part of an approved existing PhD program.
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:
Submission of paper, participation in at least 70 % of the lectures and seminars
Running evaluation. In order to pass the exam of the course, students must have attended and participated actively during least 70% of the mandatory activities. In additiion, they must have submitted a paper of 2500-4000 words on a stated topic by the set deadline, and this paper must have been approved by the censor.
Nominal workload:
5 ECTS (150 hours)
Entrance requirements:
Participants must be part of a PhD programme
Type of course:
35 hours
Examination details: Continuous exam: Passed / Failed