PHIL 1101 - Argument and Critical Thinking

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2022

Argument is an activity we all engage in, with varying results, in every walk of life. Over the last two millennia philosophers have developed powerful methods for classifying arguments and identifying common errors in reasoning. Argument and Critical Thinking teaches these methods and applies them to real-life issues. Our topics will include the theory of legal argument, and the science-pseudoscience debate, which gives us the chance to discuss UFOs, parapsychology, flat-earthers, and alien abduction!

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHIL 1101
    Course Argument and Critical Thinking
    Coordinating Unit Philosophy
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge ESL students are advised to consult the Course Coordinator to discuss enrolment in the course
    Course Description Argument is an activity we all engage in, with varying results, in every walk of life. Over the last two millennia philosophers have developed powerful methods for classifying arguments and identifying common errors in reasoning. Argument and Critical Thinking teaches these methods and applies them to real-life issues. Our topics will include the theory of legal argument, and the science-pseudoscience debate, which gives us the chance to discuss UFOs, parapsychology, flat-earthers, and alien abduction!
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Jonathan Opie

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    This course will help you develop a powerful set of critical thinking skills. After successfully completing the course, your will be able to:
    1. Reason and communicate more effectively.
    2. Evaluate your thinking processes, actively develop your own beliefs, and justify your views with well-constructed arguments.
    3. Recognize errors in reasoning, identify various kinds of cognitive bias.
    4. Distinguish justified conclusions from mere opinions, disinformation and “spin”.
    5. Participate in constructive dialogue, adopt and critique alternative points of view, appraise other perspectives charitably and impartially.
    6. Write more clearly, critically analyze popular and academic literature, structure your written work to better communicate cogent lines of reasoning.
    7. Engage more confidently in political and ethical discourse.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    6, 7

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    5, 6, 7

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    6, 7
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Readings and other required resources will be supplied on MyUni.

    Recommended Resources
    1. The Elements of Reasoning by Ronald Munson and Andrew Black (5th, 6th or 7th edition) or The Elements of Reasoning by Munson, Conway and Black (4th edition).

    The second week of lectures focus on recognising and diagramming arguments. Editions 5 and above of 'The Elements of Reasoning' have two chapters on this: 'Recognising Arguments' and 'Analysing Arguments'. These sections are not required reading, but are definitely helpful in understanding the lecture material.

    2. There is a copy of the book Science and Unreason by Radner and Radner posted on MyUni. This is an important text for the second essay and for the lectures on pseudo science, both in the second half of the course.
    Online Learning
    Various online resources are provided and employed in the teaching of this course.  Assessment tasks also involve online engagement.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There are two lectures each week and a one-hour tutorial. Lectures are presented face-to-face and also live-streamed, and are available on-demand on Echo 360 (in MyUni).

    Before tutorials, please do the suggested reading and think about the questions we have set. Tutorials will sharpen your understanding of the course content and help prepare you for quizzes and essays. Please be sure to bring the tutorial reading and your notes to class so you can refer to them in discussion.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    2 x 1-hour lectures (or equivalent) per week 24 hours per semester
    1 x 1-hour tutorial (or equivalent) per week 10 hours per semester
    5 hours assignment preparation per week 56 hours per semester
    3 hours tutorial preparation per week 30 hours per semester
    3 hours reading per week 36 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester



    Learning Activities Summary
    The course has two main parts:

    Part 1: Being Reasonable (12 Lectures)
    We introduce argument and its role in critical thinking, show you how to reason with certainty and with uncertainty, and explore the nature of explanation.

    Part 2: Reasoning in the Wild (12 Lectures)
    We discuss various ways that reasoning can go wrong, both in others and in your own thinking, and provide strategies to help you avoid deception.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    The assessment tasks in Argument and Critical Thinking consist of three online quizzes and two essays.
    1. Quizzes. Three online quizzes, with multiple-choice and written answers.
    2. Essay 1 (500-600 words). You will answer one question from a choice of 4-6.
    3. Essay 2 (1000-1200 words). You will answer one question from 4-6.
    The word limits listed are lower and upper bounds, respectively.

    Assessment Detail

    No information currently available.

    Your assignments are submitted through MyUni. The submission process is as follows:

    • Log into MyUni and select Argument and Critical Thinking (PHIL_1101).
    • Select Assignments in the left-hand menu.
    • Select Quiz 1, Essay 1 or Essay 2, etc., as appropriate.
    • Follow the instructions for uploading your assignment.
    • Please be sure to keep electronic copies of your work.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.