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Unit of study_

HPSC4101: Philosophy of Science

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit of study explores a variety of issues in philosophy of science. It uses a range of examples from different sciences (e.g., physics, biology, chemistry) to examine theories, models, concepts, and the various tools that are considered part of the scientific method. Students will learn how to apply this philosophical analysis of science to historical and contemporary findings, as well as to their own research.

Unit details and rules

Unit code HPSC4101
Academic unit History and Philosophy of Science Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Prohibitions
? 
None
Prerequisites
? 
12 credit points of HPSC3XXX or PHIL3XXX or HSTY3XXX
Corequisites
? 
None
Assumed knowledge
? 

None

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Maureen O'Malley, maureen.omalley@sydney.edu.au
Lecturer(s) Peter Godfrey-Smith, peter.godfrey-smith@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Component 2: Short Essay
Short essay outline for main essay
35% STUVAC
Due date: 05 Jun 2022 at 23:00
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Component 3: Long essay
Long essay
40% STUVAC
Due date: 05 Jun 2022 at 23:00
4,000 word essay
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Presentation Component 1: Presentation
Oral presentation
25% Week 07
Due date: 05 Apr 2022 at 10:00
20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Component 1: Students will be assessed on a 20-minute presentation in a ‘mini-conference,’ defending or arguing against a position investigated (the grade is awarded for your all round performance as a ‘symposiast’, both in your talk and regarding your engagement with other talks).
  • Component 2: Students are required to submit a 3000-4000 word research essay that develops the themes in the talk in greater detail. Topics for presentations and research essays are to be chosen by students: suggestions will bemade available in class and can be discussed with the lecturer/s.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range

Description

High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.

Distinction

75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.

Credit

65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.

Pass

50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.

Fail

0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see sydney.edu.au/students/guide-to-grades.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Correlation and causation Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 02 Evidence hierarchies and RCTs Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Data vs theory Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Models and experiments Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Causal explanation Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Concepts and natural kinds Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Presentations Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Philosophy of science special topic Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Philosophy of science special topic Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Philosophy of science special topic Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Philosophy of science special topic Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Philosophy of science special topic Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 Philosophy of science special topic; essay preparation Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

This class has attendance and participation requirements.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for the course are available on the Canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the basic theoretical develoments in a specific field of science and their philosophical implications
  • LO2. demonstrate knowledge and insight into the philosophical underpinnings of a variety of scientific theories and understand their importance in the development of our knowledge of the world
  • LO3. understand the development of contemporary positions in the philosophy of science and one specific field within science
  • LO4. demonstrate the ability to apply philosophical principles in the analysis of a specific field of science and science more generally
  • LO5. present and defend an academic talk
  • LO6. write a large scale research essay in a publishable form.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Assignments clarified and topics reorganized

See the Canvas site or contact the lecturers for a full overview of topics and readings.

Disclaimer

The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.