Critical Thinking - SO341

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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4 15 (7.5) DR R De Vries




unavailable to stage 3 students



This course is designed to help students understand and critique the numbers and research they encounter in their everyday lives. The first half of the course focuses on teaching the knowledge and skills need to critically evaluate factual quantitative claims. Each lecture uses example quantitative claims, largely drawn from the news media, to teach a particular quantitative skill. For example, highlighting a statistic based on a biased sample to teach students the principles of sampling. The seminars build on the content of the lectures and aim to teach students the practical, computer-based skills needed to evaluate quantitative claims.

The second half of the course is based around students conducting their own research, and also brings in qualitative skills element. Students apply the critical and quantitative skills they have learned to conducting their own mixed-methods project.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

11 hour lectures and 11 hour seminars

Method of assessment

Coursework – critique report (1,000 words) - 35%
Coursework – research report (1,500 words) - 55%
Coursework – seminar participation - 10%

Indicative reading

Blastland, M. & Dilnot, A. (2007) The Tiger That Isn’t.
Douglas, H (2009), Science, Policy and the Value-free Ideal.
Kitchin, R (2000), 'The Researched Opinions on Research: disabled people and disability research'. Disability & Society, 15(1):25-47.
Robson, C (2011), Real World Research 3e. Wiley.
Wright Mills, C (1959), ‘Appendix: On Intellectual Craftsmanship’. In The Sociological Imagination.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

• Understand the basic principles underlying the validity of quantitative claims and thereby demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate these claims
• Demonstrate an ability to find and retrieve relevant publicly-available quantitative data, and to do basic manipulation of this data to create tables and graphs in spreadsheet software (e.g.
• Understand how to collect and conduct basic analysis of qualitative interview data
• Persuasively present basic quantitative and qualitative data within a wider critical social explanation (or 'story')

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