SFF5000 Philosophy of Social Science Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Study programme
Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning barnevern, deltid / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning barnevern / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning familiebehandling, deltid / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning sosialt arbeid, deltid / Masterstudium i sosialfag - studieretning sosialt arbeid
Year of study
Course history


Philosophy of Social Science is the study of philosophical knowledge and activity. The course discusses the philosophy of social science's basis and raises questions that are relevant for professional social work and the work on the master's thesis. Relevant topics are the role of values in research, realism/social constructivism, evidence-based practice and politics, essential features of social reality, criteria for interpretation, causal reasoning.             

The course includes the analysis and discussion of relevant social research. The course is closely related to other courses on the master's programme and the development of the master's thesis.

Required preliminary courses


Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the students are expected to have achieved the following knowledge and skills:


The student has:

  • in-depth insight into key philosophy of science topics that are relevant for the social sciences
  • advanced knowledge of theories and terms that make it possible to systematically reflect on social scientific activities and social work practice
  • in-depth understanding of the theoretical basis for quantitative and qualitative methods


The student is capable of:

  • analysing and discussing social research using key philosophy of science terms and theory
  • analysing and assessing philosophy of science positions in social science literature
  • considering and discussing the philosophy of science basis for their own research projects


The student has:

  • can discuss the relationship between research and theories of research
  • a well developed ability to question the basis of research results

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods used are lectures and discussion/group work/supervision relating to coursework requirements and exam.

Course requirements

The student submits four essays, each 500 words (+-10%). Each essay discusses relevant themes from the curriculum, with a possibility also to relate to master thesis project or other Research examples. A list of topics to choose from will be available at the start of the course.   

If the assignments are not approved, the student will be given the opportunity to submit improved versions once. The assignments must be approved before the student can take the exam.


Students will take an individual six-hour written school exam.

Permitted exam materials and equipment

None. Students can apply to use a bilingual dictionary.

Grading scale

A grade scale A-F.


The exam is graded by an internal and an external examiner.

A random selection consisting of at least 25 % of the exam papers will be graded by both an internal and external examiner. This will inform the grading of the remaining exam papers.

Course contact person

Dag Jenssen

Jorunn Vindegg