SDP415 Theory of science for environment, development and planning studies

Credits (ECTS):5

Course responsible:Matthew Asa Cashmore

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:15

Course frequency:Annually. 

Nominal workload:Three full days of workshops including lectures, seminars, discussions on research philosophy and four seminars on research ethics (35 hrs). In addition, 90 hrs of preparation, reading and independent work.

Teaching and exam period:The teaching on philosophy of science takes place between 15-17th January 2024 with the final poster presentation and discussion session taking place on 7th June 2024. The seminars in ethics take place approximately once a month. You must attend four seminars and work sessions on research ethics from course MINA400. These four seminars can be taken either during Autumn semester 2023 or the Spring semester 2024.

About this course

How does your philosophical and ethical orientation affect your research? And how can an understanding of philosophy of science and ethics improve your research? This introductory course helps PhD candidates  answer these questions.

During the course we explore a number of philosophical perspectives on science - that is, systems of generalised views of the world that guide action - and consider how they influence scientific practices. Through this examination, we address questions of ontology, epistemology and ethics, but in an applied manner by questioning how philosophy affects interpretations of the purpose(s) of research, research design, methodology and methods.

The precise philosophical positions that are covered in the course are partly determined based on the background and academic interests of the enrolled PhD candidates. In previous years, they have included perspectives from critical realism, critical theory, post-structuralism, constructivism and interpretivism.

The ethics component of this course is fulfilled by taking sessions from the cross-Faculty course, Research Education Across Disciplines (MINA400). Seminars take place on this course monthly and you must attend a minimum of four meetings and work sessions, during the Autumn and/or Spring semesters. The content of the seminars varies from year-to-year, but typically include such topics as: the ethics of publishing; ethical assessment of research; and, building a culture for research ethics.

The course ends with a poster workshop through which we seek to further clarify and debate our individual philosophical and ethical beliefs and their consequences for what you deem to constitute ‘good’ science in your PhD research.

Learning outcome

The principal learning outcomes that you will realise through this course are as follows:
  • Recognise points of difference and intersections between philosophical perspectives
  • Understand what is deemed worthwhile and ‘good’ science under different philosophical perspectives
  • Identify the philosophical values guiding your own and others scientific inquiries and ethical questions relevant to your field
  • Appraise the philosophical and ethical basis for research design decisions that we make and how they affect research outcomes
  • The course will involve lectures/presentations, seminar activities, small and full group discussions, a poster workshop, and self-guided study.
  • Master degree in planning, landscape architecture, land management, public health science, international environment and development, or another relevant subject. The candidate must be part of an approved  PhD program.
  • Combined assessment: In order to pass the course, you must have attended and participated actively in at least 80% of the taught  sessions  on philosophy of science and attended four seminars and work sessions on research ethics; you must present a poster summarising your philosophical orientation at the end of course; and, submitted, and had approved by the course leader, a paper of 2000-3000 words. The paper will explore the philosophical orientation that you envisage, or are, applying in your PhD research.

  • Submission of paper, participation in at least 80 % of the taught sessions on philosophy of science and four seminars and work sessions on research ethics.
  • 35 hours
  • PhD students belonging to the Faculty of Landscape and Society (LANDSAM).
  • Participants must be part of a PhD programme.