The art of theorizing in the social sciences

Course content

Education in the social science is most often divided into courses in theory, on the one hand, and courses in methods (quantitative and qualitative), on the other. This distinction is usually treated as self-evident. We see it in every aspect of the social science, e.g. conferences, networks, working groups, textbooks and journals. If we take a closer look at this business as usual a surprising fact comes to the surface. Method in this distinction explicates how to conduct empirical research in the right way. Theory, on the other hand, presents and discuss the results of theorizing. There are of course also more specific courses (conferences, journals, textbooks) about results in different subfields of research, but there are almost no courses (etc.) about how to theorize. Theorizing in social science is a practice, i.e. a “know-how” rather than a “know-that”. Theorizing is learnt by doing and by being more or less intuitively influenced by “the intellectual styles” of role models (“the master thinkers”) and their paradigmatic works, rather than by following some explicit rules of procedure. In this course we will fil out this lack. We will investigate the “method”, “craft” or “art” of theorizing. An important part of that task will be to investigate the meaning and role of theory in social science. Few social scientists deny the significance of theorizing, but how do we do it?


MA elective course


From Autumn 2022 the course is also offered to students at:

- Master Programmes in Social Data Science

- Master Programmes in Anthropology

- Master Programmes in Psycology

Enrolled students can register the course directly through the Selfservice a KUnet without a preapproval.
Please contact the study administration at each programme for questions regarding registration.

Learning outcome

On successful completion of the course, the student is able to:



  • account for different conceptions of theory and the role theory plays in different significant conceptions of social science (with a focus on sociology)


  • to relate these conceptions to different ways of theorizing and compare and critically discuss these ways


  • theorize and to use this skill in research and in investigations of the social world



  • to plan and perform research and investigations of the social world in which theorizing plays a crucial role to choose and apply the adequate way of theorizing in different kinds of research

12. Teaching and learning methods
The types of instruction are described here, e.g. lectures, class instruction, exercises and excursions.
Lectures in the first hour of each session. In the second hour, the students make oral presentations, submit one or more
short compulsory assignments, e.g. essays, papers, portfolio assignments, or act as opponent for
other students’ written products during the course

The teacher uploads the full curriculum to Absalon.

Theory courses in social science on bachelor level are advantageous

Continuous feedback during the course

Continuous feedback by commenting the activities during the second hourContinuous feedback by commenting the activities during the second hour.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, -
Type of assessment details
Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 140
  • Project work
  • 38
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

See timetable.
Vejl 40 personer.
Department of Sociology, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Sociology
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Department of Psychology
  • Social Data Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Mikael Carleheden   (2-4f4542757165306d7730666d)

Mikael Carleheden, e-mail:

Saved on the 12-10-2022

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students