Global Opportunities

PHI1103 : Critical Reasoning

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The module aims to foster independent, critical and analytical thinking. This is achieved by allowing students to develop basic skills in critical reasoning, informal logic and the analysis and evaluation of argument.
These skills are, like mathematics, best taught through repeated examples, from learning at one’s own pace and from one’s mistakes. This is not conducive to the lecture environment, due to its repetitive nature and the varied pace of student learning. As such, a blended approach is being adopted.
Students will come to appreciate the importance of critical reasoning and learn to reconstruct, analyse and evaluate argument. This will be achieved by developing key skills and competence in informal logic, the identification and understanding of logical fallacies and principles of justification.

Outline Of Syllabus

(0) Reason, argument and justification (Week 1)      

Introductory lecture examining the importance and meaning of reason, argument and justification; induction and deduction; outlining the course structure and student expectations.

(1) Basic principles (Week 2-4)      

The law of non-contradiction; the principle of sufficient reason; necessary and sufficient conditions; definition, precision and conceptual clarification.

Online assessment exercise 1      
(2) Facts and values (Week 5-7)      

Relativism and subjectivism; facts and values; the naturalistic fallacy; the is-ought problem; rhetoric and authority.

Online assessment exercise 2      
(3) Justification (Week 8-11)      

Justification; circularity; infinite regress; begging the question; ad hominem; straw person; appeal to ignorance; questionable cause.
Online assessment exercise 3

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00Introductory lecture by module leader, outlining aims and structure of the course.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion35:0015:00Time to review material in preparation for three online assessments and time to complete them.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials102:0020:00Weekly online learning; mix of short video lectures and written material.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading291:0029:00Weekly reading to supplement lecture material; mix of academic articles & ‘real world’ examples.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice102:0020:00Weekly online exercises, responding to lecture material.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops141:0014:00Weekly workshops / seminars discussing lecture material and practicing skills.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

An introductory lecture will introduce the themes, aims and structure of the module.

Each week, the online learning material will include several short (~20 mins) videos and a written component. These will introduce the key ideas for each week’s teaching and discuss their wider importance. In preparation for reviewing the lecture material, students will be provided with a guided reading. Depending on content of the week’s teaching, this might involve academic material, ‘real world’ examples drawn from the media etc. or a mixture of both.

This lecture material will also be supplemented with online practise exercises for students to complete at their own pace. By completing both the lecture material and the exercises, students will gain an understanding of the importance of the skills they are developing and be able to practice those skills through repetition, which is appropriate to the development of key skills in informal logic, the identification of fallacies and the reconstruction, analysis and evaluation of argument.

Workshops / seminars will incorporate both of these elements. They will encourage students to apply the skills they have learnt to ‘real life’ examples and provide a forum in which the importance of these skills and their relevance to academic practice can be explored.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Computer assessment2M30N/A
Computer assessment2M30N/A
Computer assessment2M40N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The three-stage assessment will encourage engagement throughout the course of the module. Computer assessment (multiple choice / highlight text style questions) is widely used by other institutions to assess critical reasoning modules intended to develop skills in critical reasoning, informal logic and the nature of argument.

Reading Lists