Exploring Social Sciences

Faculteit University College Groningen
Jaar 2017/18
Vakcode UC_LAS1_02
Vaknaam Exploring Social Sciences
Niveau(s) bachelor
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester I b
ECTS 10
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Uitgebreide vaknaam Exploring Social Sciences
Leerdoelen Students are able to:

1. Characterise the main goals of the social sciences
2. Describe the core paradigms and approaches within the social sciences
3. Differentiate levels of analysis in the social sciences
4. Recognize the need for integration across levels of analysis to explain societal problems
5. Illustrate different approaches and their integration by reference to a key theme or societal problem
6. Describe how descriptive and experimental research within the social sciences is conducted
7. Describe how new theories within the social sciences are developed
8. Explain how theories are applied to social phenomena
9. Differentiate the main research methods and techniques used within the social sciences
10. Recognize the different research methods and techniques used within the different areas within the social sciences
11. Paraphrase the research methods and techniques used within the social sciences
12. Pinpoint and communicate the tasks that need to be performed to meet group goals.
13. Support and motivate the members of a study group
14. Jointly reflect on a key theme and jointly take a reasoned position on it within a debate
15. Orally present one’s reasoned position on a key theme
16. Write a reasoned essay on a key theme
17. Communicate one’s reasoned position to peers and experts in a discussion
18. Reflect on the relation between the level of analyses and the research questions addressed
19. Reflect on the individual, social and cultural influences that play a role in the generation and interpretation of knowledge
20. Locate information needed to make a reasoned decision
21. Distinguish the information needed at the different levels of abstraction within the social sciences
22. keep track of one’s own progress in the form of a written portfolio
Omschrijving Exploring the Social Sciences offers an integrative overview of the social sciences. It introduces core concepts, theories and methodologies of five disciplines: neuroscience and cognitive psychology, social psychology, economics, political science and philosophy. Each of these disciplines provides a different perspective on human behavior and analyses human behavior at a different level; ranging from the intra-individual level to the level of social structures. Exploring the Social Sciences prepares students for two majors: Cognition and Behavior on the one hand and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) on the other.

The first part of the course is dedicated to neuro-, cognitive, and social psychology. It begins by analyzing human behavior in terms of its underlying mental processes. Topics include the human brain, cognition, sensation, perception, emotion and motivation. Subsequently, the focus switches towards the role that the social environment plays in explaining human behavior. Topics include social cognition, perception, and development, as well as group processes and intergroup relations. In this way, this first part of the course introduces two different levels of analysis found in the social sciences: that of the individual human being and that of individuals in interaction with their social environment.

The second part of the course is devoted to PPE. It offers an economic perspective on individual behavior and human interaction in terms of rational choice theory and game theory. This perspective is used to address central topics in political science including social welfare, and public choice. These topics feature at the third and most abstract level of analysis that is addressed in this course: that of social institutions and society as a whole. The course also offers an introduction to political philosophy, which brings a normative perspective on human interaction within a society and a state. States face the challenge of facilitating cooperation and of accommodating diversity, be it gender, ethnic, or religious. How the state should resolve these challenges is discussed in relation to three central values: freedom, justice, and democracy.

The different disciplines are illustrated by reference to key themes that recur throughout the course. These themes are human nature, free will, inequality, cooperation, and diversity. They are examined from different levels of analysis (intra-individual, networks and groups, society and social structures). As students grow understanding and actively reflect on the insights provided by the different disciplines, they become aware of the need to integrate these levels. Over the course, students work in small groups towards a plenary symposium in which they present their interdisciplinary perspective on an important societal issue.
Uren per week 6
Onderwijsvorm Lecture, Practical, Study Group
(28 lectures/studygroups, 2 workshops, 1 practical and 1 excursion)
Toetsvorm Essay, Presentation, Written Exam Essay and MC Questions, Written Exam Essay Question
(2 essays, 2 written exams, and an end presentation)
Vaksoort bachelor
Coördinator prof. dr. T.T. Postmes
Docent(en) prof. dr. F.A. Hindriks ,dr. L. Jans ,prof. dr. A.R. Soetevent ,dr. J.P. Timmerman
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
Psychology (2014) Gray, P. & Bjorklund, D.F. 91464141959 ca. €  65,00
An introduction to political philosophy (2006) Wolff, J. 9 019929609X ca. €  33,00
On Philosophy, Politics and Economics (2007) Gaus, G.F. 0495008982 ca. €  29,00
Additional reader: Exploring Social Sciences
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