Modules of the science track

how science is made

In this module, we ask ourselves “how science is made."
The general learning aim of this honours module is “Learning to think about science, and learning to think as a scientist.” More specifically, this involves:

  • Learning to think about science in order to get a deeper understanding of science and scientific research.
  • Learning to think about scientific methodology and approaches in science. This also involves recognizing similarities and differences between scientific disciplines (including natural versus social sciences).
  • Learning to think critically about science (and scientific approaches), and creatively within scientific research.
  • Learning to think philosophically, and learning to recognize philosophical questions.
  • Learning how you can bring philosophy into science, as this may contribute to your ability of asking new and challenging questions (by being critical) and inventing new approaches (by being creative).
  • Develop your own ideas on ‘what science is.’
  • Learning to think as a scientific researcher, in order to develop your skills in doing scientific research - which involves the former skills.

Questions and themes related to these aims are the domain of the philosophy of science. The approach taken in this module is to study and discuss some philosophical themes that are relevant for understanding science and scientific research – for instance: “What is science”. “Why is scientific knowledge different from other knowledge claims?” “(How) can scientific knowledge be proven?” “What is scientific methodology, and is there one prevalent scientific methodology?” “What is a scientific discovery, and how are scientific discoveries made?” “What is a scientific explanation, and how do we decide what is the best explanation?” “What is a scientific model?” “How do scientific disciplines hang together?” “What is a scientific controversy?” etc.

The approach of this course will be that you study primary and secondary text, for which some study-questions are given. These texts and study questions will be the point of departure for discussions during the meetings. The aim of the meetings (tutorials) is to discuss the themes in more depth, and to present further explanation. You are kindly invited to also bring in your own ideas and questions. Additional to the preparation of meetings, there will be a few written assignments, which you will do in couples, and which you exchange with another couple in order to give each other feedback before submission.

The course is divided in the following phases and themes:

  1. Introductory – learning some essential vocabulary and theories in the philosophy of science, which will be used in the rest of the course.
  2. Learning about scientific methodology (including critical thinking) by means of studying philosophical texts, (analyzing) the writings of scientists, examples from current science, and (analyzing) historical examples.
  3. Learning about scientific discoveries (including creative thinking) by means of studying the writings of scientists, examples from current science, and (philosophical analysis of) historical examples.
  4. Learning about philosophical controversies (which involves ‘philosophical thinking’) by means of discussing philosophical texts and exploring your own ‘basic’ intuitions.
  5. Learning about the role of a scientific paradigm in science (and how critical and creative thinking in scientific research may also occur at the level of the paradigm) by means of studying philosophical texts, the writings of scientists, examples from current science, and (analyzing) historical examples. This insight affects several of our ideas about science. In exploring these consequences, we will focus on: (1) what scientific understanding means, and (2) how scientific concepts come about and disappear.
  6. [If time allows: some contemporary ideas about science in the philosophy of science.]

General information

This course will take place in the third quartile of your first year. Meetings are on Monday and Wednesday evening. Attending these meetings is compulsory. Thorough preparation of the meetings (such as studying texts and thinking through the guiding questions) is required as it is essential for having fruitful discussion. Directions will be given for how to prepare each meeting (see Schedule for details). Passing this module requires: preparing the meetings, attending the meetings, actively taking part in the discussions, doing the compulsory assignments (usually in couples + feedback with other couple), and writing a final individual assignment (an essay on a problem or question of your own choice that addresses one of the aims or themes of this course).


Mieke Boon, Miles MacLeod, Koray Karaca


The module introduces students into fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of our world and our life. The span reaches from the big bang, the origins of stars, planetary systems and galaxies, to life supporting planets, the origin and evolution of life to the emergence homo sapiens with his unique abilities, in particular of his ability to wonder about his own existence. Digresses within the module as suggested by students will be accommodated: think of the origin of collaboration, of society, war, love, religion etc.
The subjects of ORIGIN are very well suited to show students how results obtained in traditional disciplines come together in a synthesis leading to a rather consistent overall picture of our world.
Students get an introduction into the process of how scientific knowledge emerges, which sometimes encounters serious political, religious or ideological opposition.

General information

The module will be accessible for students from all curricula; the material to be studied will be of level which is challenging but appropriate to the background of the individual student.
Literature on various levels dealing with the subjects is available and can be purchased after consultation with the professor. On the website original papers, reviews and discussion form the literature can be used. It is mandatory to buy an internet subscription of Scientific American.
Teaching: The professor and a few invited speakers may give a few lectures on selected subjects and will provide overviews on cosmology and the evolution of life. Students will study books and papers, write essays on subjects which can be chosen from a list; individual wishes can be taken care of if they fit into the general scheme.
In interdisciplinary groups students will prepare a number of presentations on the subject they studied. This way students will broaden their view on the subjects because we have seen that the type of question, and the way of discussion them differs a lot from discipline to discipline. The teacher will coach students in the preparation of the lectures.
Challenges (learning aims):

  • Contents: Students get an overview on cosmology and evolution of life, deepen their knowledge in a number of specific subjects of their interest.
  • Skills: write scientific essays, give presentations, learn to find and evaluate scientific literature.
  • Understand the interplay of observation, measurement, technology, theory and critical reflection. Appreciate how difficult it is to come to a consistent interpretation of what is observed. Recognize how ideology and general world view interfere with science and vice versa.

Gain insight in personal development. Reflection on what you are interested in, on your own academic development, on your critical thinking. Find the relation of your personal development with science, and here with the most fundamental and confronting questions.


Miko Elwenspoek studied physics at the Freie Universität Berlin and completed his studies there with a research on the physics of fluids in 1978. After two years’ work on biophysics, he promoted on the dynamics of fluid metals and alloys at the same university in 1983. He then moved to the Netherlands to do research on the growth of organic cristals from a solution at the (then) Catholic University of Nijmegen.In 1987, he became a lecturer at the University of Twente and in 1996, a full professor of Transduction Technics as the department of Electrical Engineering. At the moment, he holds the chair of Transducers Science and Technology and is connected to both the MESA+ and IMPACT institute. His research towards microsystems recieved the Simon Steving Meesterschap award in 1997. He is (co)auteur of more than 200 articles in international scientific journals and two books. In 2002, he received the award for best teacher in Electrical Engineering, and later was, among others, responsible for the establishment of the study of Advanced Technology at the UT. Besides, he was one of the founders of the Honours programme and will act as the head of the Excellence programme of the UT for the coming years.

individual project

For this module, you will choose a topic from your regular study that catches your interest and you will try to identify an unsolved problem related to it. The result will be a research proposal in the way a professor would set it up. You will have guidance of both the professor of your choice and the teachers of this module. The first one will give you specific information on the subject, while the others will tell and teach how to write such a proposal and how to do decent research work on your own. The meetings during this period are used to exchange ideas and to present your most recent findings. Moreover, with the aid of several case studies, you will learn the do’s and don’ts of research on your own area of interest and of science in general. Overall, this module serves not only to get you acquainted with your own area of research, but also to show you how to “create” new knowledge.

General information

This course will take place in the second and third quartile of your second year (takes 2 quartiles).


Kim Schildkamp graduated in 2003 at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and completed her research towards leadership in schools at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in Toronto, Canada. She promoted in 2007 at the University of Twente on the topic of self-evaluation in primary education, and now works there as a lecturer at the research group Curriculum Design & Education Innovation.
Her research is focussed on the use of data (for example, data on exams, surveys, and reports of the inspection on education) by schools, for which she looked both towards the Netherlands and towards other countries. The latter was possible due to a Fulbright grant, which allowed her to work for a few months at the Louisiana State University, where she worked with the Louisiana Department of Education on research towards the use of performance feedback by schools.
Now, she focuses on supporting schools in the use of data. One of her research projects, for example, focuses on the functioning of so-called data teams in secondary education. In these data teams, teachers and members of the school management work together according to a pre-structured systematic plan to improve the use of different sources of data. Another, European, research project focuses on the same use of data in different countries, among which are England, Germany, Poland, and Lithuania (see also Moreover, she is a member of the board of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement (ICSEI) and is founder and chair of the ICSEI data use network (see She is author of a significant number of international publications and is much sought after as speaker on (inter)national conferences.

Hajo Broersma obtained his MSc and PhD degrees in 1984 and 1988 from the department of Applied Mathematics of the University of Twente. Since then he has been an assistant, associate and full professor at the UT until he moved to Durham University (UK) in 2004 to take up a professorship in theoretical computer science. There he has built up one of the strongest European research groups in algorithmic and structural graph theory and computational complexity. He returned to the UT in 2010 as a professor in programmable nanosystems, from a joint initiative supported by the UT research institutes CTIT and MESA+. In 2012 he obtained a large European grant of 2.9M€ to work on a challenging project concerning evolvable nanostructures within the `future and emerging technologies' program, with a multidisciplinary team from the UT and universities in Durham, York, Lugano and Trondheim. Hajo published over 150 scientific papers in internationally refereed journals, is an editorial board member of six international journals, and participated in program committees of thirteen international conferences. He holds visiting professorships at three universities in China.

Dr. Janneke Alers studied Biology at Utrecht University with majors in Experimental Embryology and Immunopathology. She obtained her PhD degree in Medicine at the Department of Pathology of the Erasmus University Rotterdam in Cancer Cytogenetics in 1997. She continued working at the Erasmus MC as a postdoc in translational cancer research. In 2001 she accepted a position at the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding) as senior policy maker and secretary of the Dutch Cancer Society Signaling Committee on Cancer (SCK). She conducted, amongst others, a Delphi study on imaging techniques for cancer patients in the Netherlands. From 2006 onwards, she worked as senior research coordinator and secretary of the Scientific Counsel of the Dutch Cancer Society for which she was responsible for the processing of grant applications for scientific research, training and education. In 2008 she became program manager of the Biomedical Engineering program at Twente University and coordinator of the minor Medical Sports Physiology. She combined her coordinating tasks with developing and teaching courses related to academic skills and introduction to medicine . She was involved in the design of new TOM modules in the BMT Bachelor curriculum. Within the BME program she was a strong advocate of the honours program.
In 2011 she became full time lecturer in Cell Biology related courses and practicals in the Bachelor programs of Biomedical Engineering, Technical Medicine and Health Sciences. Currently she is coordinator of BMT modules 2, 5 and 11 and is embedded as full time lecturer at the Developmental BioEngineering group of the MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine.


In this module we aim for a synthesis of the programme. Building on the insights you acquired in earlier quartiles and your personal interests we will have a look at the future. We are living in interesting times, to say the least. Globalization, climate change and political instabilities challenge societies now, but do we know what will be the impact of biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence? How will we live in the decades to come? Some scientists fear that civilization is gradually coming to an end, as Sir Martin Rees suggests in his ominous book Our Final Century: Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-First Century? Other scholars are less pessimistic and believe in the resilience of society. For example, in his The Power of Paradise Jonathan Holslag analyses the crisis of Europe and comes up with humanistic solutions. And finally there are optimistic scholars who embrace the future, as exemplified by Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

Clearly, in the academic literature, there is not one future, but several futures. This module provides you first with some general input on future studies, focussing on a global, European and urban level. Together we will read and discuss (parts of) the aforementioned books, articles and also watch some documentaries. In the second part of the module you can choose an aspect of the future that interests you most, based on your personal stance or linked to your academic background. As an output for this module you will have to write and present an individual scientific essay or produce a video in which you deepen the topic you have chosen. In the trajectory towards this final product we will discuss the progress (e.g. in evaluating literature, the writing process or other things that come up) in interdisciplinary groups. Obviously, we are also interested how you see yourself as one of the creators of the future. What are your ambitions in the next decade? What inspires you? In short, this module invites you to reflect on the future as such and your own role in it.


Professor Gert-Jan Hospers is an economic geographer at the University of Twente and has a chair in Place Marketing at the Radboud University. In 2004 he defended his PhD-thesis Regional-Economic Change in Europe: A Neo-Schumpeterian Vision at the University of Twente. Gert-Jan is a specialist on local and regional development and has done a lot of fieldwork in East Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. In 2015 he published (joint with Nol Reverda) the book Managing Population Decline in Europe’s Urban and Rural Areas.