BASS Politics and Data Analytics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Critical Thinking

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL10042
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course focuses on the nature, purpose, and evaluation of arguments. You will learn what arguments are and what they are for; also how to identify an argument in conversation or text, to identify and understand its structure, and to evaluate it. You will learn to distinguish between good and bad arguments, and to articulate what features of an argument make it good or bad, better or worse.

You will learn how to apply these concepts to your essay writing.
You will also be introduced to some basic concepts that form the backbone of any academic discipline, such as: truth and falsity, rational and irrational beliefs, theory, method, proof and evidence.


The course aims to:

- Introduce students to basic principles of argument.
- Enhance their ability to understand the structure of and critically evaluate other people's arguments, and to formulate and clearly articulate arguments of their own.
- Enhance their ability to avoid common argumentative faults, such as ambiguity, irrelevance, fallacies, and rhetorical ploys.
- Enhance their understanding of key basic concepts, like theory, fact, truth, belief, proof, and evidence.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

- Identify and analyse the structure of arguments that appear in academic and non-academic texts, and in everyday conversation
- Evaluate arguments that is, judge whether (and in what sense) they are good or bad and articulate their reasons for that judgment.
- Spot common rhetorical ploys and avoid common fallacies.
- Plan an essay in such a way that it presents a thesis and has a clear argumentative structure.
- Distinguish between evidence and conclusive proof, between belief and truth, and between rational and irrational belief.
- Grasp the fundamentals of the language of symbolic logic.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are only a guidance and may change.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Recommended reading

T. Bowell & G Kemp, Critical Thinking: a Concise Guide (Routledge 2002)
J Shand, Arguing Well (Routledge 2000)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Frederique Janssen-Lauret Unit coordinator

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