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FAK3012 Supplementary Course in Theory and Methodology of Science 3.0 credits

Course memo Autumn 2023-50647

Version 1 – 10/18/2023, 4:46:46 PM

Course offering

Period 2 (Start date 30 Oct 2023, English)

Language Of Instruction


Offered By


Course memo Autumn 2023

Course presentation

Headings denoted with an asterisk ( * ) is retrieved from the course syllabus version Spring 2021

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

This course consists of the part that constitutes the difference between the courses FAK3024/FAK3136 (4,5 credits) from the courses FAK3137/FAK3138 (7,5 credits). This part is specific for doctoral students and does not correspond to any part of the master level courses.

The student will write and present an essay on a theoretical or methodological problem within the student's own area of research. The student will also critically evaluate and discuss such essays by other PhD-students.  

Intended learning outcomes

After having completed the course the student should be able to:

·         identify and critically discuss fundamental theoretical and methodological problems within the PhD-student's area of research,

·         identify and critically discuss specific theoretical and methodological problems within the PhD-student's own research,

·         identify and critically discuss specific theoretical and methodological problems within others' research.

Learning activities

Three essay meetings, with submissions for each. The aim is to take a look at your own research from a methodological perspective and write an essay about this. For this reason, we recommend a year of research before starting the course.

You may also want to revise lectures and literature from the master level course.

Detailed plan

The essay task is a chance to analyse and reflect upon the methodological aspects of your own Ph.D. research. It is recommended that Ph.D. students that intend to complete this task have completed at least one year of research. The task consists of three mandatory meetings and three text submissions that eventually add up to an essay in which you describe, discuss and attempt to solve a methodological issue relating to your research project. For meetings two and three, there are also mandatory peer-reviews. All meetings must be attended in person during the same course period. Before the first meeting you submit an abstract where you describe a methodological problem you wish to write about. In the first meeting you present your first draft and get peer feedback. In the final meeting you present your final version. Are you not sure you know what a methodological problem is? Watch the first video lecture! Prepare for the meetings by carefully studying the TaMoS course material. 

Note that each submission has a strict deadline. If you miss a deadline, you may not continue with the essay in this period and must start over in another period. For more information about compensatory activities, see Examination and completion. 

Outline of the essay tasks: 

Detailed schedule on Canvas. 

  • Text submission: Essay proposal, 100-300 words. On Canvas. 
  • Meeting: Essay proposal discussion. On Zoom. 
  • Text submission: First draft, 3000 words. On Canvas. 
  • Text submission: Peer review. On Canvas.
  • Meeting: First draft discussion. On Zoom.
  • Text submission: Final draft, 3000-3500 words. On Canvas.
  • Text submission: Peer review. On Canvas.
  • Meeting: Final draft discussion. On Zoom. 

Note that since you will be divided into groups and discuss each other's work, it is important that you submit your tasks and attend the meetings. Otherwise, not only will you fail the essay assignment, but one of your fellow students might end up not getting a peer review. Therefore, you should always contact the course coordinator well in advance with any scheduling conflicts. 

Meeting 1 – Essay proposal 

The first meeting is an introduction lecture. In preparation for this, you submit a short essay proposal comprised of at least 100 words and at most 300 words. Make sure you upload this proposal on the correct submission page before deadline. 

In the essay proposal, you present a methodological problem, relating to your own research, that you intend to describe, discuss and solve in your essay. Make sure to choose one problem – not many! Describing this problem requires describing the purpose of the method being discussed (i.e., what you want to achieve by using this method) and the alternative methods that you could have chosen instead. What is the justification for choosing this method over the alternatives? Does your choice result in any compromises (that alternative methods might have avoided)? Outline the reasons for or against your method choice. One of the most common mistakes is to write about your own research only, instead of framing your research in a wider methodological perspective. Avoid this mistake by making sure that you understand what is expected of you. 

Take great care to make your essay proposal as clear and accurate as possible. Do not think of the abstract-submission task as a hurdle to be cleared and forgotten, but as an aid to help you ensure that you have understood the nature of the upcoming task correctly. Some more tips and guidelines can be found in the Canvas course room. 

Meeting 2 – First draft 

In preparation for this meeting, you submit a first draft version of the essay. The draft version should contain at least 3000 words. Note that your draft version should already resemble a final version; the overall structure of the essay should already be in place. Make sure you upload your draft on the correct submission page before deadline. 

Before the meeting, you must also provide written peer-feedback on the submission of one other PhD student in your group, pointing out its strengths and drawbacks. At the meeting, the submissions will be further discussed, and you are expected to have carefully read the submissions of the other attendants – especially the one you’ve been tasked with reviewing. 

In the draft version of your essay, you will develop a discussion based on the outline you submitted before the first meeting. You continue to discuss one, and only one, methodological concern. In the beginning of the text, you should clearly state what methodological problem(s) you will address and outline the structure of your text. Then you move on to presenting reasons that justify your chosen method over the alternatives. Does your choice result in any compromises (that alternative methods may not have resulted in)? Why is your method of choice nevertheless better than the relevant alternatives? Discuss! Your conclusion will most likely be that careful methodological reasoning favours your method choice over the relevant alternatives. If, however, you come to the conclusion that an alternative method would have been better, make sure you present the reasons for why you think so.  

Note that the purpose of this meeting is not to get an authoritative quality verdict. The seminar leader serves only as a facilitator; they will not subject your submission to the kind of careful scrutiny that your final version will get from an examining teacher after the third meeting. Rather, the main purpose of this draft meeting is student peer review. It is therefore important that you acquaint yourself with the other students’ draft submissions and carefully read and comment on the draft that has been assigned to you for peer-reviewing. Whatever comments your submission received before and at the second meeting, take these into consideration when working on improvements for your final version.  

Questions that you should address when commenting on another student’s essay:  

  • Is the method described in a concise and understandable way? Give suggestions on improvements!  
  • Is the methodological problem discussed in the paper well-described and clearly demarcated from other problems? Can you suggest an improved formulation of the problem?  
  • Are relevant concepts from TaMoS applied?   
  • Are the concepts correctly used? Explain where you think the author has made an error!  
  • Is there anything left out of the discussion that you think should have been included? 
  • Can structure, choice of words or grammar be improved? 

Meeting 3 – Final draft 

In preparation for this meeting, you submit the final draft version of your essay. This version should consist of at least 3000 words, and at most 3500 words. Make sure you submit your essay on the correct submission page before deadline.  

The final version of your essay should be a revision of your essay draft. When reworking your essay, take the comments you received on the first draft into consideration. Prepare to give a brief presentation (a few minutes) of your essay on the third meeting. You will receive feedback from the other attendants as well as from a senior teacher. Also, you should acquaint yourself with the other students’ submissions before the meeting. Moreover, just as in preparation for the second meeting, you will be tasked with reviewing one other student’s submission. After the meeting, the senior teacher will then assess and grade your essay. The essay may receive a passing grade, or it may receive a failing grade. You may also be asked to revise the essay. A revision will in turn result in either a pass or fail.  

Importantly, please put your full name and kth-email address on the cover of your essay!

Expected workload

The expected workload is 8 hours per week. If you wish, you may follow along with the video lectures to remind you about the course content. You are also welcome to attend the introductory lecture and the two flipped classrooms on campus, although these are strictly not part of your course. Time and date for these will be announced on Canvas. All of this will, of course, add to the workload.


The course schedule is available in TimeEdit via To find your schedule, log in and choose "Course" in the drop-down menu and search for your course code. Note that the TimeEdit schedule does not include submission deadlines. Exact time and date for the deadlines is found on Canvas. The general rules are as follows.

Essay submission 1 (essay abstract) is to be submitted 2 workdays before the scheduling of the corresponding meeting.

Essay submissions 2 (essay draft) and 3 (final essay) are to be submitted 4 workdays before the scheduling of the corresponding meetings.

Peer reviews on submissions 1, 2 and 3 are to be submitted up until one workday before the corresponding meetings.

Preparations before course start

Recommended prerequisites

It is assumed that the PhD student has taken at least 4.5 credits at master level in theory and methodology of science.

Specific preparations

Revise course content. If you have not taken one of our master level courses (AK2030-AK2050), AF2023 or DA2205: contact course administration.


The main text for the course is:

  • Justified Method Choice - Scientific Methodology for Scientists and Engineers by Till Grüne-Yanoff. Based on the video lectures.

In addition, there are three supplemental texts:

  • Some Issues in the Philosophy of Technology, by Sven Ove Hansson.
  • On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, which is an excerpt from a text by the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Ethical Thinking by Jesper Ahlin.

Finally, there is one additional optional text, mainly targeting the same topics as the main course text:

  • The Art of Doing Science by Sven Ove Hansson.

In addition to above mentioned readings, you may be asked to read short texts in preparation for some seminars. All course readings will be available in pdf file format on Canvas together with associated reading instructions. The readings cannot be bought as physical books, but you are welcome to print them.

Examination and completion

Grading scale

P, F


  • UPP1 - Essay, 3.0 credits, Grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

The section below is not retrieved from the course syllabus:

Essay ( UPP1 )

Active participation in three meetings, three essay submissions and peer feedback. The final version of the essay is graded by a senior teacher. This essay can be passed, failed or you might be asked to revise to reach the criteria for passing. Once your final version is passed, you get the grade P.

Alternatives to missed activities or tasks

Failing to submit or failing the final version of the essay means you have to re-take the essay part in another period. You may re-use your own material when re-taking the module, but you must attend all meetings and complete all additional tasks anew.

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Plagiarism and other forms of misconduct

All texts are automatically checked for plagiarism, and high plagiarism indication scores are then manually checked. If, after this, there arises suspicion of plagiarism, we are obliged to report this to the disciplinary committee.

In particular, it is not allowed to:

  • copy words or ideas from a published source straight into your assignment without acknowledging the source,
  • copy ideas by making a summary or paraphrasing the original text (that is, by writing it differently) without acknowledging the source of the original idea or words,
  • copy another student's work and then claim or pretend it is your own,
  • work so closely with other students on individually-assigned tasks that the final result turns out to be identical or near identical. (However, where to draw the line is not always that clear; ask the teacher if you are uncertain.)

All sources should be stated using any standard referencing system (see the KTH library). Citations should be marked with citation marks – " " – and the source should be provided. As a simple rule, consider five words or more from a source a citation. To avoid plagiarism charges, a tip is to make notes when reading a text and write your assignment by looking at your notes instead of the text.

It is not allowed to have someone else write the text or parts thereof for you (ghost writing), nor to have it automatically generated.

Further information

Round Facts

Start date

30 Oct 2023

Course offering

  • Period 2 Autumn 2023-50647

Language Of Instruction


Offered By



Communication during course

Please e-mail the course coordinator with all matters, both administrative and content questions. Contact through e-mail is preferred, please do not use the Canvas messaging system. You may communicate in either Swedish or English. Please state your course code, since I handle several courses.

Course Coordinator