Critical Thinking - SOCI3410

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Mark Hill checkmark-circle


This module 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 module 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.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


This is a compulsory module for students on BA Criminology, BA Sociology and BA Social Policy and joint honours Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy undergraduate programmes in SSPSSR, and is available as a wild module to other students.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

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

Reassessment methods

100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Blastland, M. & Dilnot, A. (2007) The Tiger That Isn't. Profile
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.
Ritchie, J and Lewis, J, (eds) (2003), Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. SAGE.
Robson, C (2011), Real World Research 3e. Wiley.
Wright Mills, C (1959), 'Appendix: On Intellectual Craftsmanship'. In The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Understand the basic principles underlying the validity of quantitative claims and thereby demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate these
8.2 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. Excel)
8.3 Understand how to collect and conduct basic analysis of qualitative interview data
8.4 Persuasively present basic quantitative and qualitative data within a wider critical social explanation (or 'story')

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Demonstrate key quantitative and qualitative research and critical thinking skills
9.2 Demonstrate team-working skills, including an understanding of the different roles of different individuals within a team, and the ability to
negotiate conflicts within teams
9.3 Demonstrate independent study skills, including the ability to conduct independent research, including qualitative and quantitative data


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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