Topics in Philosophy of Mathematical Practice

Course content

This highly interactive summer school offers students from mathematics and philosophy of mathematics the opportunity 1) to gain knowledge about the central topics in the philosophy of mathematical practice and 2) to gain the basic skills needed in order to practice empirically informed philosophy of mathematical practice themselves. 

The course will be organized in two parts, a four-week online part (25 hours per week) and a two week on-campus part (full time). 


The online part will include reading of research papers, online discussion of topics raised in the papers, online collaboration and supervision in developing problem formulations for final products. The material will primarily be centered on the following four themes from contemporary philosophy of mathematical practice: 

  • The role of diagrams in mathematical practice 
  • Proofs as vehicles of communication in mathematical practice
  • Experimental aspects of mathematical practice
  • Formal aspects of mathematical practice

Furthermore, the students will familiarize themselves with basic theories of empirical data collection during the online part of the course.


The on-campus part will consist of the following three elements: 

  • Lectures following up on the four themes in philosophy of mathematical practice covered in the on-line part. 
  • Workshops on empirical data collection.
  • Practical work preparing an empirically informed product in the philosophy of mathematical practice (such as an essay informed by data from e.g. qualitative interviews, a questionnaire or corpus analysis performed by the student).


Students will receive group supervision on their product during the on-campus part of the course. 

Learning outcome

After following the course students should have the following skills, knowledge and competences:


The students should be able to collect and analyze empirical material


The students should be able to account for central topics in the philosophy of mathematical practice.


The students should be able to:

  • Reflect on the strengths and limitations of empirical methods.
  • Discuss and reflect on central topics in philosophy of mathematical practice.
  • Produce empirically informed written products in the area of philosophy of mathematics.

Lectures, online exercises, group work, group supervision, and practical workshops.

Students will be given a collection of research papers and excerpts from text books. 

It is recommended that at least one of the following three qualifications is fulfilled:
1) BSc in mathematics and knowledge about philosophy.
2) BA in philosophy and knowledge about mathematics.
3) knowledge equivalent to one of the following books:
- Johansen and Sørensen (2014): Invitation til matematikkens videnskabsteori
- Mark Colyvan (2012): An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Take-home assignment consisting of four small exercises posted during the on-line part of the course and a written project to be produced during the on-campus part of the course and in the following week. All five parts of the assignment must be handed in no later than 30 August 2019. The assignment will be assessed as a collected whole.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Short courses / Copenhagen Summer University

  • Category
  • Hours
  • E-Learning
  • 100
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Exam
  • 26
  • English
  • 206