Key Information

Tutor: Greg Artus
Course Level: Level 1 
Course Credit: 1 credit
Mode of Delivery: Face-to-Face
Maximum Course Capacity: 20


There are no further sessions taking place this academic year. Course dates for 2024-25 will be available to book from late September.

The format of the session will be largely a tutor guided discussion aimed at delivering content through dialogical method.  A question will be posed, which will provoke various responses, which will then be explored and developed by the group and the tutor, who will then relate those responses to relevant philosophical schools, theories and thinkers from the history of the subject. The aim of this method and the session will be to give students the opportunity first to engage with some of the key philosophical issues related to science and think about where they stand on them, but then to not only see the ways in which their views may have echoes in previous theories or schools of thought, but also to see the classic objections those views may have to overcome.  By the end of the session students will be in a better position to discuss in an informed way the broader philosophical debates around notions of truth, fact and knowledge in relation to scientific research. We will discuss questions such as: What does the distinction between objective and subjective knowledge aim to highlight? What is the difference between fact and opinion? How have the criteria for truth developed historically and what do we mean by ‘truth’ in modern science? Are all the sciences ultimately reducible to physics?  Is mathematics invented or discovered?  Are mathematical objects ‘real’, and if so, in what sense? Could science ever be completed? What is the ‘scientific method’ and how has our conception of science, and what it can achieve, changed since ancient times?

Obviously, the field is vast, but by introducing students to some key ideas, theories and thinkers across these various inter-related issues, and getting them to think about and discuss their own views on these matters and how their views relate to the history of these issues, the course will help students grasp the relevance of epistemological questions to their own research and practice.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, learners will be able to:

  • Discuss epistemological issues in an informed way.
  • Evaluate the debate between competing conceptions of scientific method
  • Grasp in broad terms the historical development of epistemological theory since the 17th century
  • Think critically about how epistemological issues relate to their own practice as researchers in STEM

How to Book

Please select a date and book on via Inkpath using your Imperial Single-Sign-On.