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1 A Level Studies in conjunction with Oxford College Study House is pleased to be able to offer students the opportunity to study A levels through our partner Oxford College who will provide study materials and all aspects of student support throughout your course. Full details of the course syllabus, support and examination arrangements are provided below. A Level Critical Thinking AS Critical Thinking Why choose Critical Thinking? Critical Thinking develops the ability to make sense of arguments and ideas. People who question what they read in the newspaper and enjoy reading between the lines, by analysing the language used in a logical way, will enjoy this course. As well as being lively and enjoyable in its own right it can help improve study and communication skills. On this basis, Critical Thinking can be a very useful way to support the study of other subjects and improve your performance in other subjects. Learning about critical thinking provides a framework for you to weigh up all of the information that you are bombarded with every day. This may be very helpful when you are studying other subjects. It helps develop the skill of reading for meaning. Rather than skimming through a newspaper article, a technical report or a difficult chapter in a book, you should become better equipped to take what you have read to pieces. You are given a discipline to see what somebody is really saying and whether you are convinced by it, rather than taking them at face value. By the end of the course you may also be better able to construct an argument yourself. THE COURSE The course is divided into two units, each of which is divided into several sections. There are a large number of activities to do. The course is skills based rather than content based. In other words, there is not very much to commit to memory. It is more about practising and developing skills. The answers to all the activities are included with the course notes. At various points you will complete one of the assignments and send it to your tutor for marking. Each unit corresponds to a unit as set out in the syllabus and an examination. The lessons also broadly correspond to sections of the units in the syllabus. It is important

2 that you will study the lessons in the right sequence. However you should be aware that Critical Thinking is very much an integrated subject try and see the links between terms and concepts as you go along. The units are divided up as follows: UNIT 1 INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING Part A the language of reasoning What is an argument? What is an argument? Some basic rules of arguments Using common notation as shorthand The elements of an argument What are argument indicators? Counter arguments The use of counter claims Providing evidence Providing examples Hypothetical reasoning Assumptions How strong is the evidence in a reason? Evaluating evidence How big was the sample? Was the sample representative? How and when was the evidence collected? How is the evidence presented? Alternative interpretations of statistics How well does a reason support the conclusion? Part B Credibility What is credibility? Credibility criteria Is the evidence plausible? Is the source an eye witness? Is there corroboration? To what extent are different sources consistent with each other? Is there any suggestion of bias? Does the source have a vested interest?

3 Is the source neutral? Can the source be seen as expert? Does the source have a positive reputation? A guide to the unit one exam How the exam works What do I need to be able to do? How to give a good answer Practice makes perfect! UNIT 2 ASSESSING AND DEVELOPING ARGUMENT Part A Further points on components Some things that are not an argument Explanation Description Opinion Intermediate conclusions Analogies Principles Drawing conclusions Part B spotting problems with an argument - types of flaw Inconsistency and contradiction Types of flaw Wrong actions Unwarranted assumption of a causal relationship Generalisation Restricting the options Slippery slope Circular argument Confusing necessary and sufficient conditions Conflation Straw person Ad hominem flaws Arguing from one thing to another

4 3.2.8 Irrelevant appeals Part C Developing your own reasoned argument Part D Guide to the unit 2 exam Recommended textbook and use of the web Although the course material provides explanations of the whole syllabus you are strongly advised to purchase a copy of OCR Critical Thinking AS by Jo Lally and others. It is published by Heinemann. (ISBN ). The book provides clear explanations and contains many activities. At the front of the book is a CD which contains, among other things, the answers to the activities. There are no websites specific to AS Critical Thinking except PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS FOR THE PREVIOUS NOT THE CURRENT SPECIFICATION HOWEVER. On the critical thinking website you will see a useful links section, though as the creator of the website admits, there isn t much else out there. Finally, the OCR website ( contains full details of the syllabus and sample exam papers with answers. Studying Critical Thinking Critical Thinking is a broad, contemporary and real world subject. Students probably need to have passed GCSE level English Language to do well on the course. There is no mathematics element but there is a need to have a go at interpreting figures and understanding some basic mathematical concepts such as averages and percentages at a fairly basic level. AS EXAMS - Exam board: OCR - Code: HO52 Unit 1 Introduction to Critical Thinking (20% of total A level marks) 1.5 hour written paper. Answer all questions. Candidates will be presented with 2 or more passages, totalling 900 words. Candidates answer short answer questions and more discursive answers

5 Unit 2 Assessing and Developing Argument (30% of total A level marks) 1.5 hour written paper. Answer all questions. The paper has 2 parts and candidates answer all questions. Section A: contains multiple choice questions. Section B: Short answer questions after analysing a passage. Section C: short answer questions and construction of one or more further arguments. Exams available January and June FURTHER DETAILS OF SYLLABUS AND EXAMS AVAILABLE ON OCR WEBSITE ( Please refer to these details in preparation for exams, not this brief summary. A2 Critical Thinking THE COURSE The course is divided into two units, each of which is divided into several sections. There are a large number of activities to do. The course is skills based rather than content based. In other words, there is not very much to commit to memory. It is more about practising and developing skills. The answers to all the activities are included with the course notes. At various points you will complete one of the assignments and send it to your tutor for marking. Each unit corresponds to a unit as set out in the syllabus and an examination. The lessons also broadly correspond to sections of the units in the syllabus. It is important that you will study the lessons in the right sequence. However you should be aware that Critical Thinking is very much an integrated subject try and see the links between terms and concepts as you go along. The units are divided up as follows: UNIT 3: ETHICAL REASONING AND DECISION MAKING Ethical reasoning Conflicting ideas Social, political, religious and moral factors More on hypothetical reasoning Different responses, different criteria Dilemmas, applying principles and decision making The nature of a dilemma Constructing arguments

6 UNIT 4 CRITICAL REASONING Analysis and evaluation of complex arguments Assumptions Valid and invalid arguments Syllogisms Sustained suppositional reasoning Sustained counter-argument Relationship between components Independent or joint? Smaller arguments, counter arguments and explanations Not part of an argument? Evaluating strength and weakness Developing your own cogent and complex arguments Studying Critical Thinking Critical Thinking is a broad, contemporary and real world subject. Students probably need to have passed GCSE level English Language to do well on the course. There is no mathematics element but there is a need to have a go at interpreting figures and understanding some basic mathematical concepts such as averages and percentages at a fairly basic level. A2 EXAMS - Exam board: OCR - Code: H452 Unit 3 Ethical reasoning and decision making (25% of total A level marks) 1.5 hour written paper. Question paper is based on resource material including graphs, charts and diagrams. Exercise in applying general and ethical principles. Short or more discursive answers. Unit 4 Critical reasoning (25% of total A level marks) 1.5 hour written paper. Complex materials in form of one or more passages, images, statistics etc. Short or more discursive answers dealing with analysis and evaluation. Also own further argument produced in response to the material. FURTHER DETAILS OF SYLLABUS AND EXAMS AVAILABLE ON OCR WEBSITE ( Please refer to these details in preparation for exams, not this brief summary.

7 Study Hours The number of study hours are variable according to student commitment, though it is recommended that candidates spend around 150 hours on AS, and 300 hours in total for the full A-level. Qualification The titles of the qualifications as will appear on certificates are: OCR Advanced Subsidiary GCE in Critical Thinking OCR Advanced Level GCE in Critical Thinking What's Included Learning documentation, Online Resources and Tutor support for 2 years. Price and Payment The cost of this course is 295 if paid in full at the time of purchase, or 20 if paid in installments. Installment payments can be made as follows: 100 at time of purchase 110 on last working day of month following purchase 110 on last working day two months after purchase Further Information Please note that this course is available in online format only. You will need to have one of the following packages to access your course online: Windows: Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista - Acrobat Reader 8.0 and above Macintosh: Mac OS X, Mac OS Acrobat Reader 8.0 and above As an A Level student you will have access to our online 'Common Room', where you are able to receive the latest course updates, extra materials and information. You will also be able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community. Once enrolled, your username, password and personal Oxford College Student number will be ed to you within 5 working days, which will give you access to your course materials via the Common Room. The full A Level will be a 2 year course, AS Exams to be taken in 2009 and A2 in Due to Examination Board restrictions, there is no flexibility to complete this course any sooner.

8 Students are required to arrange and pay for their examinations and manage the course work element if the subject requires this. Students must check the relevant examination board website for further information and final examination sitting dates for the specification.

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