HSS8007 : An Introduction to the Nature of Explanation and Enquiry

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To introduce students to some of the key epistemological traditions that inspire research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well some contemporary debates about research and knowledge.

To familiarise students with key terms such as positivism, realism, hermeneutics, constructivism, relativism, and post-structuralism, as well as addressing some key academic debates on post-colonialism, feminism, and queer theory.

Outline Of Syllabus

Scientific Approaches
Modern Tenets of Posivist Enquiry
Kuhn and Winch
Post-structuralism and Post-modernism
Post Colonialism
Pierre Bourdieu on Power, Domination and Social Stratification
Feminist Approaches to Conceptualising and Troubling Knowledge
Actor Network Theory (ANT)
Concluding Thoughts: Philosophy and the Foundations of Knowledge

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery42:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study176:0076:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module uses a blended approach, providing directed online reading & activities (via the VLE) which are subsequently explored through in-person structured interactions.

The reading & activities will provide opportunities for students to become familiar with the subject matter and to identify issues/ prepare responses for later discussion. Making a variety of content accessible online for students ahead of seminars is important, given the diversity of the student body in terms of disciplinary background and familiarity with terms & concepts. Using this delivery mode, with selected content to appeal to those both new to or familiar with topics, provides students with a personalised learning experience to suit their needs & interests.

During the small group teaching sessions, students work in teaching assistant-led groups, and undertake tasks depending upon their proficiency and pre-existing knowledge of the subject.

A teacher-led reading group (drop-in) is offered regularly over the course of the module, to support students who seek to clarify and/ or develop their knowledge further. Students are also provided with further reading suggestions to support their own independent study and assignment preparation.

At appropriate points in the module students will engage in online discussion. These discussions would occur over the course of a week, ie. asynchronously, allowing students/ staff to have flexible and meaningful engagement ahead of/ after in-person structured interactions.

This approach combines the advantage of an accessible mode of knowledge delivery, which allows students to learn at their own pace, with opportunities for interdisciplinary & interpersonal communication and group presentation.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M1002,000 word assignment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay enables students to demonstrate their knowledge of the taught content and ability to apply to their research project.

Reading Lists