Scientific Reasoning for the Social Sciences

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
30 April 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L250 International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA L258 International Relations,
BA L259 International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA L260 International Relations (Including Placement Year),
BA L150 Political Economics,
BA L151 Political Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BA L152 Political Economics (Including Placement Year),
BA 0A56 Political Theory and Public Policy (Including Year Abroad),
BA 7L29 Political Theory and Public Policy,
BA 7L30 Political Theory and Public Policy (Including Placement Year),
BSC L222 Politics and International Relations,
BSC L223 Politics and International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BSC L224 Politics and International Relations (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This module provides an introduction into the basics of the philosophy and theory of (empirical social) science, its structure, and procedures/techniques. It tackles questions such as "what is a research design?" and "how is scientific progress made?" This module thus seeks to introduce students to the basics of scientific work and procedures in the social sciences, which in turn shall allow them to conduct work that fulfills satisfactory standards of research quality. This not only pertains in particular to students' classes during the third academic year, but also in light of potential postgraduate studies.

Module aims

This module seeks to enable students to assess scientific logics and assumptions, evaluate scientific theories and empirical evidence, and build intuition for good research designs.

Module learning outcomes

Gained an understanding of the basic issues in research design and philosophy of science.
Learnt how to construct a scientific explanation (research question, theory-building, hypotheses).
Understood how to empirically evaluate scientific theories.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 1 hour lecture per week. 1 x 1 hour class per week.


  • Kuhn, Thomas S.; Hacking, Ian. (2012) The structure of scientific revolutions, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Kellstedt, Paul M.; Whitten, Guy D. (2013) The fundamentals of political science research, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kellstedt, Paul M.; Whitten, Guy D. (2018) The fundamentals of political science research, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • King, Gary; Keohane, Robert O.; Verba, Sidney. (c1994) Designing social inquiry: scientific inference in qualitative research, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Lakatos, Imre. (1970) ''Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes' in Criticism and the growth of knowledge', in Criticism and the growth of knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. vol. Proceedings / International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science
  • Popper, Karl R. (2002) The logic of scientific discovery, London: Routledge. vol. Routledge classics

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework In Lecture Test 30%
Coursework Final Assignment 16/12/2019 50%
Practical Presentation 20%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Federica Genovese plus Teaching Assistants
Module Supervisor: fgenov@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator: Nicola Rowley, govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb
Available via Moodle
Of 73 hours, 71 (97.3%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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