Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Short Review Paper and Philosophy of Science

UM LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course




DESCRIPTION Short Review Paper:

The student will work on a literature review assigned by the department during the summer preceding the final year and will be supervised by one of more members of the academic staff. A list of topics is prepared for the purpose every year. The student will be required to prepare and deliver a presentation and then to submit a written paper on the work done.

Philosophy of Science:

Introduces the student to some of the main topics and ideas of the subject. The lectures will commence with a brief overview of the history of scientific enquiry and will proceed with a discussion of topics and ideas in philosophy of science in a historical context.

These include:
Key figures in and examples from the history of science (e.g. Aristotle, Descartes, etc.); Epistemology; Empiricism; Karl Popper & Falsification; The Demarcation Problem; Logical Positivism, Thomas Kuhn: Scientific Revolutions & Scientific Paradigms; Imre Lakatos and Auxiliary Hypotheses; Induction and Deduction; Undetermination in Science and Empirically Equivalent Theories; Constructive Empiricism.

Study-Unit Aims:

Short Review Paper section:

This study-unit aims to:
- Train the student to carry out a critical and thorough literature review pertinent to the assigned topic;
- Train the student on the effective use of appropriate reference sources;
- Provide training and some experience to improve presentation skills;
- Train the student in scientific writing style through the preparation of a scientific paper;
- Extend the knowledge of the student on the assigned topic;
- Encourage the student to work independently.

Philosophy of Science section:

This study-unit aims to provide the student with an understanding of some of the main ideas relating to the question of what constitutes scientific enquiry and the associated ongoing debate. It will provide a historical context and establish a timeline for some of the main ideas in the development of the scientific method and illustrate ideas via examples specifically derived from physics.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding

Short Review Paper section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- appreciate the importance of critical reviews in science;
- assimilate and understand the background science pertinent to the assigned topic.

Philosophy of Science section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to understand the main ideas relating to the philosophy of science (as described in the study-unit description) and cogently argue about principal topics concerning the philosophy of science while being able to critically assess the various competing arguments.

2. Skills

Short Review Paper section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- carry out a critical literature review;
- identify appropriate reference sources;
- use the available search facilities to find and retrieve documents on a specific subject;
- provide a written summary of a literature review, making use of standard referencing techniques;
- present the findings to an audience using an appropriate medium.

Philosophy of Science section:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to gain an appreciation of the history of scientific enquiry; discuss the main ideas in the philosophy of science, with particular emphasis on how these ideas relate to topics in physics; gain practice in the clear and precise communication of philosophical ideas (specifically those pertaining to the subject matter of this study-unit) both verbally and particularly in writing.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Popper, K., Conjectures and Refutations, Routledge, 1963.
- Kuhn, T., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 1970.
- Popper, K., The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Routledge, 2004.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., Theory and Reality, University of Chicago Press, 2003.
- Curd M., Cover, J.A., Pincock, C., Philosophy of Science - The Central Issues (2nd edition), W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite qualifications: Good knowledge of the various areas of physics covered in the first three years of an undergraduate degree physics joint degree is expected


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Presentation (15 Minutes) SEM2 No 15%
Essay SEM2 No 20%
Progress Test SEM2 No 25%
Research Paper SEM2 No 40%

LECTURER/S Tony John George Apollaro
Charles G. Bonello
Carmel J. Caruana
Joseph Caruana
Gabriel Farrugia
Lourdes Farrugia
Anthony Galea
Alfred Micallef
Jackson Said
Charles V. Sammut
Andre Xuereb


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.