AK2002 Good and Bad Science 7.5 credits

God och dålig vetenskap

This is an interdisciplinary course on quality issues related to the natural sciences.

Offering and execution

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters

Course information

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents *

The course will take the form of lectures one evening a week at Fysikum, Stockholm University. It is arranged in cooperation between the Department of Physics, Stockholm University and the Division of Philosophy, KTH.

The lectures comprising the course are held by specialists in different fields. The following is a preliminary list of lecture themes:

  • What is science?
  • Distinguishing between science and pseudoscience
  • How we can be duped by chance
  • Being critical of one's sources
  • Peer review
  • Evolution - how do we know it took place?
  • The arguments of creationism
  • Clinical testing
  • Quackery and medical science
  • Big Bang - What can we know?
  • Perpetuum mobile - Can we know it is impossible?
  • Physics and mysticism
  • Astrology, a critical appraisal
  • Dowsing, a critical appraisal
  • How to fake - on fakes and pseudoscience
  • Science in mass media

Intended learning outcomes *

The course aims at providing

  • knowledge about science and scientific endeavours, especially within the natural sciences,
  • basic tools for demarcating good science from bad,
  • knowledge about common pseudoscientific schools and theories, and about the ways in which they deviate from good science.

After completed course the student

  • should be able to discuss scientific quality and the nature of science from a philosophical perspective,
  • should be able to scrutinize the methodological quality of an experimental study by reading the experimental report,
  • should be able to outline the claims and tenets of those pseudoscientific theories that have most followers in our society, and should be able to explain in what ways the theories deviate from normal scientific practice,
  • should know about, and should be able to discuss, the dissemination and popularity of pseudoscience.

Course Disposition

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Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites *

120 credits in technology or natural science, as well as Swedish B/ Swedish 3 and English B/ English 6 or equivalent.

Recommended prerequisites

University studies corresponding to 120 credits (two full years).


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Examination and completion

Grading scale *

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Examination *

  • TEN1 - Examination, 7.5 credits, Grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, 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.

Other requirements for final grade *

Written examination (TEN1;7,5 cr).

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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John Cantwell

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web AK2002

Offered by


Main field of study *

Built Environment

Education cycle *

Second cycle

Add-on studies

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Jesper Jerkert, jerkert@kth.se, 08-7909551

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.

Supplementary information

Lectures are given once per week during evening-time. Old course code: 1H1602.