UCL Centre for languages & international education (CLIE)


Science, Method and Rationality

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session 2
Module leader
Dr Chris Fenwick
GPA of around 3.3/4.0 (US) or equivalent
Assessment method
Essay (50%), Lab Report based on experiment (25%), Presentation (25%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
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Module overview

The scientific method is generally seen as one which allows us to study the physical world in a systematic and unbiased manner. Its approach allows us to obtain objective and rational knowledge of the world. But how do we go about developing such knowledge, and what does it really mean for such knowledge to be objective and rational? This module will focus mainly on the scientific method, how this is defined and what this entails. Basic elements of the history and philosophy of science will also be included.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • be able to describe the main tenets of the scientific method, and explain their significance, advantages and disadvantages;
  • be able to identify the tenets the of scientific method within case studies in the history of science, and describe the extent to which any specific case study illustrates the tenets of the scientific method;
  • be able to identify and describe what makes science rational, and why this is so;
  • be able to distinguish science from pseudo-science, and critically analyse the difference between them;
  • be able to conduct a simple practical experiment according to the main tenets of the scientific method, and suitably record the process of the experimental investigation.

Module prerequisites

No pre-requisites required; Particularly suitable for STEM students, but also suitable for students from any discipline who have an interest in this topic.

Module hours

Classes take place on the Bloomsbury campus, Monday through to Friday, during the daytime. Off-campus site visits and supervised fieldwork may also take place during these hours. Assessment and a plenary event will take place on the last Friday. The module offers 45 contact hours, but students are expected to spend an additional 100 hours on assignments and self-study.


  • Essay (50%)
  • Lab Report based on experiment (25%)
  • Presentation (25%)

Module leader

Dr Fenwick has been teaching maths for twenty five years to students on a variety of courses such as undergraduate level engineering, mathematics, computer science, liberal arts (for American universities), and MBA.
Currently, Chris teaches maths on the UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE), as well as being part of the English for maths teaching team on this course. He also teach the STEM group of module 3 of the UCL International Pre-Master's programme, this involving topics on rationality in scientific disciplines, and scientific communication.

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