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Psychology: History and theory of science

This course aims at a deepened understanding of different perspectives in the philosophy of science, with particular relevance for psychology.

The course comprises three modules.

The first module provides a historical overview of how contemporary academic psychology has grown from philosophical thinking since antiquity and developed successively along the progress in the natural and social sciences and the humanities.

The second module addresses central concepts and distinctions within the philosophy of science generally, with particular emphasis on theories of scientific development.

The third and final module focuses on the philosophy of psychology, including nomothetic versus idiographic approaches to psychological knowledge, the psychology of science, and philosophical problems with special relevance for psychology (e.g, the mind-body problem, the question of free will, the role of values).

  • Course structure

    As a registered student on this course you will find detailed course information and communication in the learning platform Athena. Login with your university account.

    This course will be given in the first half of the semester, half-time studies.

    Course syllabus:  Psychology: History and theory of science, 7,5 credits. Autumn 2022 (262 Kb)

    Teaching format

    The course consists of 9 lectures, 3 discussion seminars, and one seminar in which students present their written assignments. Active student participation is required in the seminars, which are mandatory.

    All teaching is in English.

    Learning outcomes

    In order to pass the course, students are expected to be able to:

    • on the basis of general knowledge of the history of philosophy and the theory of science, develop and discuss assumptions behind different types of psychological research;
    • analyse how different ideas in psychology, other sciences and societal changes have shaped developments within specific areas of psychology;
    • analyse and describe how differences and contradictions between different psychological theories relate to different approaches within philosophy and the theory of science;
    • independently identify a problem relevant to the course and discuss this problem based on literature and their own arguments.

    For grading details, see course syllabus.


    Examination of the course is based on two assignments:

    Assignment 1. A number of essay-questions, reflecting the first three learning outcomes (about 1500 words in total). The essay questions will be made available about two weeks prior to deadline.

    Assignment 2. An essay, ‘paper’ around a problem or question relevant for the area of the course, reflecting the last learning outcome (about 2500 words). The problem/question to be discussed in the paper is selected by the student but may advantageously be relevant for the student’s own area of research. The papers will be presented and discussed in a seminar at the end of the course.


    Course leader: Professor Pehr Granqvist,

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    A complete list of course readings is found in the course syllabus.

    The list is subject to change until two months prior to the start of the course. In case the new course syllabus is missing above by then, please check with the course leader before you buy any expensive books etc.

  • Course reports

  • More information

  • Contact

    Registered students should primarily use Athena for teacher communication.

    To contact the Student office or a Student Councellor, see below.

    More contacts in Education

    Student office - Master's level
    Study councellor - Master's level