Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD


Causality, Mechanism and Evidence in Science (HPSC0084)

Much of science aims to find and use causes. Does penicillin cure bacterial infection? How big a dose and how often should we give it for it to be effective?

Mechanisms are most obviously important in the biomedical sciences, but are relevant far beyond them. For example, we seek to explain how penicillin cures bacterial infection by describing the mechanism by which it kills bacteria in the body. So finding evidence of causes and mechanisms is a core problem of science. Further, our fundamental view of the world we live in has been profoundly affected by the kinds of causes and mechanisms we discover. This module explores the most important views of causality and mechanisms and how we seek evidence for them, and examines how they affect our view of the world around us.


The goals of the course are:

  • To provide knowledge of the three key themes: Causality, Mechanism and Evidence in science.
  • To apply these themes to cases from scientific practice.
  • More generally, students will learn how to analyse and assess theoretical concepts and arguments presented in their favour.
  • To allow students to develop their skills of presentation and group working.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain and criticise some of the key arguments and theories concerning causality, mechanism and evidence in contemporary philosophy of science. 
  • Explain and apply these theories and evaluate standard solutions to their problems in relation to case studies from scientific practice.

Full pdf details:

UCL Module Catalogue: Causality, Mechanism and Evidence in Science (HPSC0084)