Fast Track AS – Critical Thinking


AS Critical Thinking is available to students with a high GCSE average to study as their year 12 elective.

This course is for anyone who would like to improve their ability to reason. It won’t tell you what to think, but it will teach you how to think better. It’s for those who want to think for themselves, debate well and avoid the pitfalls which lead to poor arguments. It is a course which will also enable you to see the weaknesses in arguments of others.

  • Who Is This Course For?

    This course is for anyone who would like to improve their ability to reason. It won’t tell you what to think, but it will teach you how to think better. It’s for those who want to think for themselves, debate well and avoid the pitfalls which lead to poor arguments. It is a course which will also enable you to see the weaknesses in arguments of others.

    Entry Criteria

    Students will need a profile of at least AAABBB from their top six GCSEs including at least a minimum of grade C from GCSE English Language. This course is only available to students on the College Flyers programme.

  • Course Details:

    Exam Board

    OCR

    AS Unit 1: Introduction to Critical Thinking

    This unit will introduce you to the language of reasoning and to the skills needed to identify the structure of arguments. It will also help you to determine whether evidence is credible: what is it safe for you to accept in support of an argument?

    AS Unit 2: Assessing and Developing Argument

    This unit builds on the skills of Unit One and looks at assessing and evaluating the arguments of others, and at developing your own arguments.

    A2 Unit 3: Ethical Reasoning and Decision-making

    This unit focuses on decision making and brings in ethical theories, exploring how these can help us in making difficult choices: what are the rights and wrongs of right and wrong?

    A2 Unit 4: Critical Reasoning

    This unit takes argument analysis and evaluation to a complex and sophisticated level, bringing in formal logic.

    Assessment is by exam only. There is no coursework.

    How the course is delivered

    There are two lessons per week, for AS which means that students on this course must be very good independent learners. Source material for Critical Thinking is all around you, though. We study reasoning in a wide variety of contexts, ranging from newspaper articles, sitcoms, debates and through looking at texts in other A Level subjects; in addition each student will have two course books, giving additional support and practice outside lessons.

    Departmental Enrichment

    Students will have the opportunity to join the college’s Debating Society, and be part of the team which participates in the annual debating competition involving fourteen other sixth form colleges. They will also have the opportunity to participate in masterclasses with guest speakers.

    The Critical Thinking Department at Wyke Sixth Form College

    Critical Thinking is taught by Belinda Hakes, experienced in teaching the subject at A level and Advanced Extension Award, and in working with undergraduates and graduates. She has also written about Critical Thinking in journals and has had a book published on the subject. Belinda is also a member of the English Department.

    What can I do now that would help prepare me for this course?

    In a sense you have been preparing for this course all your life. Every time you’ve disagreed with someone, wondered what decision to make, engaged in discussion or written an essay you’ve been doing some critical thinking. You just weren’t doing it as well as you will after you’ve taken this course! If you’d like to do some introductory reading, the book recommended is ‘Critical Thinking for Students’(4th edition) by Dr. Roy van den Brink-Budgen.

    Also recommended is The Critical Thinking Web, provided by Dr Joe Lau from The University of Hong Kong.

    By doubting we come to inquiry. Through inquiry, we perceive the truth.

    Peter Abelard

    12th century

    Read not to contradict, nor to believe, but to weigh and consider.

    Francis Bacon

    16th century

    She hath prosperous art

    When she will play with reason and discourse,

    And well she can persuade.

    William Shakespeare, ‘Measure for Measure’

    17th century

    Most people would sooner die than think—in fact they do so.

    Bertrand Russell

    20th century

    The human brain is nature’s Ferrari, but most of us most of the time are driving at 30 mph.

    Noel Stewart

    21st century

  • Progression:

    Good reasoning ability is essential for all courses and career paths. Past students have gone on to study subjects as diverse as economics, sociology, English, philosophy, politics, nursing, physics, mathematics and law. A recent A* student went on to study psychology and found that the first term’s work had largely been covered already in his Critical Thinking course!

    Student Success

    We have maintained our 100% pass rate, with a high proportion of grades A and B.