FILS1 Causal inference in social science 5 ECTS
Period I Period II Period II Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Advanced studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Filosofian tutkinto-ohjelma
Faculty of Social Sciences

General description

The course introduces the latest methodological developments related to causal inference in the social sciences. The course begins with the basics of the formal theory of causal reasoning (by Judea Pearl) and its philosophical foundations. We will then explore more specific issues and methodologies, such as the concept of social mechanism, how to construct a good causal variable, quasi-experimental designs, field and laboratory experiments in the social sciences, and case-based process tracing. The course format is a reading seminar with recent methodological research articles as course material. In addition, each student will make a short presentation on an empirical research article related to the methodological topic in question. Default example articles are provided by the teacher, but students can also make suggestions based on their interests (such as their thesis topic).

Course outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Foundations of Causal Inference I
  3. Foundations of Causal Inference II
  4. Foundations of Causal Inference III
  5. Causal Mechanisms and social theory
  6. Mechanistic thinking and statistics
  7. What is a good causal variable?
  8. Quasi-experimental strategies
  9. Qualitative evidence and process tracing I: within-case
  10. Qualitative evidence and process tracing II: comparative process tracing
  11. Experimental social science: field experiments
  12. Experimental social science: laboratory experiments

Enrolment for University Studies

Enrolment time has expired


Jaakko Kuorikoski, Teacher responsible


15-Jan-2019 – 21-May-2019
Lectures 24 hours
Tue 15-Jan-2019 - 21-May-2019 weekly at 12-14, Linna K106


Numeric 1-5.

Study materials

Pearl, J., Glymour, M. & Jewell, N.(2016). Causal Inference in Statistics - A Primer. Chapters 1-3.

Research articles.

Further information

Target audience: masters and PhD students in the social sciences and philosophy students interested in philosophy of science. Maximum number of participants: 12.