Theory of science and research methods course - Konstfack

Theory of science and research methods course

7,5 credits, Doctoral course (third-cycle), Spring and autumn 2015, ABE-KTH

Kursen "Theory of science and research methods in art, technology and design", är en obligatorisk kurs för studenter på Doktorandprogrammet Konst, Teknik och Design, KTH/Konstfack. Kursen är även öppen för andra sökande (se behörighetskrav nedan).

Course content

The course provides an overview of theory of science and scientific method, set within a cultural framework and addressed in relation to (forms of) knowledge. The focus lies on reflexive, critical and qualitative research methods in the humanities and the social sciences. Notions of paradigmatic shifts, divides between different scientific traditions, and inter- and transdisciplinary research are presented and framed in ways that are particularly useful for students pursuing practice-based research, artistic research and design research. Students are provided with a solid understanding of key concepts and topics – such as the relation between epistemology, ontology, and methodology, and the linkage between research question, method, aim and result – through lectures and literature seminars. In emphasizing social complexity and with a focus on poorly-defined cases characterized by “messiness”, the course aims at providing students with advanced insights into recent thinking on reflexive and critical methodologies, qualitative and innovative methods, and performative research practices. Historical examples and key philosophical sources are combined with current thinking in various academic fields characterised by criticality, experimentation and reflexivity. On completion of the course, the student will be able to reflect on his/her own position in relation to dominant schools of thought, and critically discuss the problems and opportunities, as well as the epistemological and ethical challenges, inherent to his/her own research practice.

Course objectives

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

- Account for and be able to reflect on the basic principles of scientific theory inrelation to method
- Account for and be able to reflect on concepts of knowledge in relation toresearch practice
- Account for the main traditions in qualitative research methodology andcritically assess them in relation to outcomes, topics and aims
- Account for notions of paradigmatic shifts, inter- and transdisciplinary research, and for perceived divides between different scientific traditions
- Critically reflect over how social complexity affects the preconditions forresearch, in general and in view of a specific study
- Critically reflect over his/her own research practice in view of its epistemological and ethical challenges 


The course caters for the needs of doctoral students pursuing research with a view on social complexity and paradigmatic change. Students are expected to read and discuss literature at an advanced theoretical and philosophical level, to present and discuss their readings at literature seminars, to partake in group exercises and to conduct independent critical and reflective thinking in the writing of a final essay. To be eligible for the course, students must have completed a masters’ degree or have an equivalent level of education in technology, art or design (such as architecture, planning, civil engineering, design, arts and crafts, or fine arts) or affiliated subjects within the humanities and social sciences. Priority is given to students in the doctoral programmes Art, Technology and Design (KTH – Konstfack) and Planning and Decision Analysis (ABE-KTH). The course requires a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25 students to be held.


The course is graded P/F and examined in two parts:
- Participation in seminars, including group and/or individual assignments (4 credits).
- Hand-in of final paper of a satisfactory quality and participation in the final review/workshop (3,5 credits).

Course literature

- Excerpts from Michael Williams, Problems of Knowledge: A Critical Introduction to Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2001), Mats Alvesson and Kaj Sköldberg,  Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for Qualitative Research (SAGE Publications, 2013); Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford (eds.), Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social (Routledge, 2014); John Law, After method: mess in social science research (Routledge, 2004), will be combined with a choice of articles, to be presented at the beginning of the course.

Schedule (preliminary)

Module 1. 30-31st March 2015: Conceptualizing ‘knowledge’
Module 2. 25-26th May 2015: Researching complexity
Module 3.14-15th September 2015: The ethics of knowledge production
Module 4. 12-13th October 2015: Research beyond the object/subject divide
Module 5. 7th December 2015: Examination


Applications are made by sending an e-mail to the course responsible teacher Jonathan Metzger (Skyddad adress) – no later than the 1st of March 2015, including a signed copy of your individual study plan. Places to the course will be allocated on a "first come, first served basis" but PhD students within the Art, Technology and Design Programme are given priority.

Your participation in the course is only guaranteed after you have received a positive response on your application. The number of participants is limited.


1 March 2015: Deadline to apply

Applications to the course should be submitted by e-mail to the course responsible teacher at KTH, Jonathan Metzger Skyddad adress. Attach a copy of your individual study plan.

Your participation in the course is only guaranteed after you have received a positive response on your application. The number of participants is limited.

Uppdaterad: 29 januari 2015