module specification

IF3050 - Critical Thinking (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Critical Thinking
Module level Foundation (03)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Short writing task
In-Course Test 80%   Timed coursework
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Morning
Autumn semester North Monday Afternoon
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon
Autumn semester North Wednesday Morning
Autumn semester North Thursday Morning
Autumn semester North Thursday Afternoon
Autumn semester North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module aims to:   
1. clarify what is meant by critical thinking, reasoning and argument
2. explore the importance of examining knowledge critically in academic practice
3. provide the opportunity for students to  apply their understanding  to academic practices in their particular pathways
4. develop students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills so that they are able to assess, appreciate and defend a variety of beliefs and values, in particular:
• encouraging students to consider the importance of different points of view
• encouraging  students to recognise the complexity surrounding many issues
• developing  a rational approach to analysing and evaluating argument 
• developing the skills needed to form and defend well-reasoned arguments, both orally and in writing


The following skills will be taught using a variety of academic reading and audio-visual sources initially based on general themes. 
After an initial introduction to critical thinking, the module will follow a circular syllabus, beginning with the analysis, evaluation and construction of short, simple arguments and building up to longer more complex arguments.
Indicative Syllabus:
The meaning of critical thinking, reasoning and argument.  The importance of critical thinking in academic study in HE.

Skills: LO1
Recognising and analysing argument.  
• Distinguishing between argument and non-argument
• Identifying basic argument elements and argument indicators. 
• Recognising and using the language of reasoning.
• Analysing longer, more complex arguments.

Evaluating argument: LO2
• Comparing different points of view
• Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different arguments
• Assessing the reasonableness of reasons and assumptions
• Assessing the credibility of claims and sources
• Assessing the reliability of  evidence
• Evaluating support  for conclusions  
• Identifying and explaining flaws and  weaknesses in reasoning
• Expressing coherent evaluation of argument in writing and orally

Constructing and developing argument: LO3
• Basic reasoning skills
• Writing an argument
• Developing an argument
• Use of language skills
• Presenting an argument orally
• Challenging and defending argument

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module is delivered through taught classes, seminars and debates.   Class work will include individual, pair and group work and will involve producing, presenting and discussing oral and written work.  Group discussions, tutorials and formative feedback will give students the opportunity to reflect upon progress and discuss strategies for developing skills and ideas (45 hrs); Preparation for assessment; self directed study (105 hrs).

Module information including module booklet, timetable, class notes, practice activities, feedback, links to external resources, assessment details and additional resources to support study will be on the VLE.  Students may also be expected to post comments and have on-line discussions through the VLE.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:

1. recognise and analyse argument, identifying a range of argument elements;

2. assess the reasonableness of reasons and assumptions, the credibility of claims and sources, the reliability of evidence and examples, and identify flaws, weaknesses and strengths in reasoning, in order to evaluate argument;

3. construct coherent well-structured arguments that demonstrate an understanding of critical thinking, competent reasoning skills and an ability to use the language of reasoning.

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module  will be through a written online submission of 20% and a written timed coursework 80%. Students must receive a pass overall.

Formative assessment will take place throughout the module through short written and oral tasks, both group and individual. Feedback will be given by the tutor in group work, in tutorials, on homework tasks and on web learn. Peer assessment will also be used for formative feedback. Following discussion, students will then work with others on the module and with the tutor to revise their work.

Summative assessment for this module will take place through a short submission earlier in the module and a written timed coursework at the end of the module.  Students taking a reassessment in the examined component will do so by means of an equivalent coursework submission.


Class resources, practice activities and assessment practice materials will be posted on the VLE.  A general reading list will cover the scope of the course, but students will be encouraged to use the practice activities and links to external resources posted on the VLE, as well as applying the skills practised in class to academic reading and writing in their other areas of study as well as their day to day life.

Brink-Budgen Van Den R. (2010) Critical Thinking for Students, How To Books 
Cottrell, S. (2011) Critical Thinking Skills, Palgrave Macmillan 
Thomson, A ( 2002) Critical Reasoning – a practical introduction, Routledge 
Additional reading:
Bowell, T & Kemp, G (2009) Critical Thinking: a concise guide, Routledge.
Fisher, A. (2004) The logic of real arguments, CUP
Goatly, A (2000) Critical Reading and Writing: an introductory course book, Routledge
Shand, J. (2000) Arguing Well, Routledge