How Science Works

PHIL 1032 ‘How Science Works’ is an undergraduate course satisfying the University of Cincinnati’s natural sciences and quantitative reasoning general education requirements (NS and QR BOK codes). This course engages deeply with the nature of scientific methods and scientific reasoning, teaching science majors and business majors alike (and others from across the university) to ask deep questions about science and its relationship to our daily life.

Course Topics

  • what’s distictive about science
  • experimental methods
  • the use of models in science
  • common reasoning patterns in science
  • descriptive and inferential statistics
  • causal reasoning
  • scientific explanations and theories

Example Syllabus (link)

Course Details

How Science Works is offered every semester. Generally, it is taught in-person in fall semesters and online in spring semesters. The course has been co-developed by several philosophy instructors (all affiliated with the Center) who rotate through teaching it: Zvi Biener, Lucas Dunlap, Melissa Jacquart, and Angela Potochnik.


The first version of How Science Works was developed years ago by Biener and Potochnik. Potochnik later joined a team of philosophers of science (Matteo Colombo and Cory Wright) to author a book to serve courses like this: Recipes for Science: An Introduction to Scientific Methods and Reasoning (link).

The textbook also has a companion website here (link) with example course syllabi, additional exercises, slides featuring images from the book, and additional resources.


Center Associate Director Melissa Jacquart is spearheading research to assess the impact of this course on students’ understanding of and relationship to science.