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MAMET1H Philosophy of science, ethics and research methods

Course description for academic year 2024/2025

Contents and structure

This is a joint course for master's programmes offered at the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences at HVL. In this course, students will acquire a thorough understanding of key scientific, philosophical, methodological and ethical issues in health and social sciences. The philosophy of science theory discusses the scientific disciplines' basic assumptions and the types of knowledge that are produced within the various disciplines. Students will acquire insight into qualitative and quantitative methods, and in different quantitative and qualitatively oriented methodologies and research designs. Current issues from their own professional background or other relevant social practices will be themed and discussed to show how different research designs provide different contributions to new knowledge. The course contributes to the development of knowledge in research ethics and ethical issues related to research and work with people.

Learning Outcome

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student...

  • has in-depth knowledge of key philosophy of science traditions and their impact on own professional field
  • has in-depth knowledge of key research ethical issues and concepts relevant to health and social studies
  • has in-depth knowledge of different research methods and designs, including their strengths and weaknesses


The student...

  • can identify and discuss philosophy of science positions in different types of research
  • can use and evaluate suitable methods of data collection, data analysis and result presentation
  • can analyse and relate critically to the most suitable research designs for different types of research questions

General competence:

The student...

  • can critically analyse and reflect over the relationship between the various steps of the research process
  • can convey theory of science, research questions, research methods, empirical findings and the significance of new knowledge with relevance to the health and social sciences and own subject area
  • can analyse and reflect on research ethical issues
  • can analyse and reflect on philosophy of science issues

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching methods

The course is web-based, and requires good internet access and the opportunity to communicate via online meetings. Forms of work are individual and group-based, written and oral, self-study, teaching videos, quizzes and peer-reviewing, and participation in discussion forums and online article seminars.

The student will receive and submit assignments in Canvas, and it will also communicate with both fellow students and teachers via this learning platform. Regular online meetings / video conferences will be held. To attend the meetings, the student needs a microphone, speaker and webcam.

The article seminars will contribute to the students critically assessing all the steps in the research process. The articles are chosen by the subject teacher to take care of the special master's programs' special features. Collectively, the articles provide an overview and insight into various aspects of the research process, the theoretical foundation of science, design, research methods, as well as the publication and dissemination of research.

The organization of the article seminars is adapted to the number of students and takes care of the academic and program-specific needs. Subject teachers organize the seminars with student groups of 3-4 people. Each student group is assigned an article and chooses an article themselves. This must be approved in advance by the subject teacher. The group that will present in the seminar submits a presentation in advance (text, PP presentation or video) so that the opponent group and teacher can prepare for the seminar.

The article seminars are conducted according to the following template:

  • A student group presents the article and shows how the various aspects of the research process are designed and presented. Each group gets 20 minutes for the actual presentation. It is calculated 15 - 20 min. with feedback from the opponent group and teachers.
  • The opponent group prepares to ask critical questions to the presentation / article that is presented and prepares for discussion with the rest of the groups.
  • The presentation must be documented, for example as text, as a presentation, or video.
  • The subject teacher introduces and summarizes after each seminar.
  • The number of groups that present in a seminar and the actual organization of the seminars are adapted to the individual education and the number of groups. Parallel seminars can be held at educations that have many groups.

A work effort corresponding to 40 hours per week for full-time study and 20 hours for part-time study is expected.

Compulsory learning activities

The course requirements must be fulfilled in order to take the exam:

  • Participation in four article seminars
  • Participation in two article presentations in a group, where everyone in the group must present in the seminar. Written PP must be submitted in advance. Revised presentation with a self-evaluation is delivered in the discussion forum within three days after the seminar.
  • Participation in two article oppositions in a group where everyone in the group must contribute feedback in the seminar.

Fulfilled course requirements are valid for two subsequent semesters.


Assignment An individual process-oriented written assignment that begins at the start of the course. The student is assigned two articles and will design a discussion that compares scientific theoretical assumptions, methodological and research ethics aspects in the two relevant articles.

The assignment must have a scope of 2500 words +/- 10% (body text). Front page, any content list and reference list and list of self-selected literature will be added.

Time and place for the exam, see Studentweb.

Grading scale The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

New exam When the grade F (not passed) is given, the students can improve their written assignment and hand it in for the new exam.

Examination support material

No limitations

More about examination support material