Skip to main content

Unit information: Critical Reasoning in 2019/20

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Critical Reasoning
Unit code PHIL10030
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Bird
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces the student to the analysis of arguments found in a variety of everyday contexts, understanding the structure of arguments, and the diagnosis of flaws in reasoning. It aims to give the student an understanding of the variety of forms of argumentation and reasoning including statistical reasoning) and the tools to analyse arguments found in everyday life. It aims also, thereby, to make the student more conscious of their own reasoning practices and so less liable to errors in reasoning and more competent in constructing sound arguments of their own.

Intended learning outcomes

The student completing this unit should be able to:

  1. Analyse the structure of arguments found in everyday contexts;
  2. Appreciate the role and importance of evidence;
  3. Understand certain important forms of formal reasoning (e.g. statistical inference)
  4. Identify common fallacies and biases in reasoning;
  5. Construct a clear argument;
  6. Be reflective about their own reasoning; be less susceptible to committing fallacies and be less liable to bias.

Teaching details

11 x 1-hour lectures

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

1 hour mid unit test.

Summative assessment:

2-hour end-of-unit exam. The exam will be broken into sections that will allow for the separate assessment of the various ILOs. For instance, section A will be on the analysis of arguments, assessing ILOs 1, 2, 3, 4. Section B will require the student to construct an argument given various resources, thereby assessing ILOs 2, 5, 6.

Reading and References

  • Diane Halpern 1995 Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking (Routledge, 3rd edition)
  • Alec Fisher 2001 Critical Thinking: An Introduction (Cambridge)
  • Anne Thomson 2002 Critical Reasoning: A Practical Introduction (Routledge, 3rd edition)
  • William H Hughes, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (Broadview, 6th edition)