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Course syllabus

Course syllabus: Interdisciplinarity: ontology, epistemology and practice (3+2 higher education credits)

Study guide


After completing the course the PhD student will be able to:

- Reflect on the role and function of the academic discipline

- Critically examine the relationship between disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies

- Account for different interdisciplinary ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies

- Problematize the research policy context for interdisciplinary studies

- Critically reflect upon and situate his/her PhD work in relation to the landscape of interdisciplinary studies

Course content

The course offers a critical introduction to the history, sociology and practice of interdisciplinary studies. Interdisciplinary studies is first explored in relation to the academic discipline. We discuss how disciplinary norms and knowledge ideals organize academic research, and to what extent and how they are challenged by interdisciplinary studies. Secondly, the course compares different interdisciplinary traditions and the ontological and epistemological assumptions they rest upon and project. We ask which knowledge ideals that inform interdisciplinary studies and to what extent they reconfigure the production of scientific knowledge. Finally the course addresses the research policy context for interdisciplinary studies and possible career paths for interdisciplinary researchers.

Course organisation

The course is divided into two modules (3+2 credits). The first course module (3 credits) is offered to all doctoral students at the Department of Thematic Studies. The module is organized around active literature seminars and strives to foster a joint interdisciplinary reflection across the Tema Department’s units. Prior to each seminar the PhD student is expected to read the assigned literature and prepare a set of questions to be addressed in the seminar discussion. The second course module (2 credits) is developed by each Tema and aims to explore how interdisciplinarity is interpreted and practiced in specific research environments. For this course module the student is be asked to write a paper in which s/he critically reflects upon and situates his/her own PhD work in the field of interdisciplinary studies.


Active participation in all seminars is required to pass course module one. Absence from a seminar should be announced in advance, and can be compensated through a written reflection on the assigned seminar literature (approx. 2 pages). 

The second course module is examined through the individual paper.


The course grades are pass or fail. The student will receive his/her grade when both course modules are completed.

Entry requirements

The course is open to students admitted to a PhD education at the Department of Thematic Studies or equivalent.

Course certificate

A course certificate is issued by the Faculty Board of the Faculty of Humanities at the request of the student. A request for a certificate has to be made on a special form that can be obtained from the central student reception desks or via http://www.liu.se/gf/studc/examen/. The form is handed in to the Student Centre       

Course literature

The list of course literature is determined by the course coordinator in collaboration with the involved teachers. See course guide for specification.

Other matters

The planning and delivery of the course must be based on the wording of the course syllabus. The course evaluation that has to be included in each course therefore has to deal with the question of how the course matches the course syllabus.

The course is conducted in such a way that the knowledge and experience of both women and men is made visible and developed.


This syllabus is valid from: 1 January 2016.

Sidansvarig: susanne.eriksson@liu.se
Senast uppdaterad: Wed Dec 09 09:28:38 CET 2015