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Online course

Logical and Critical Thinking

Improve your logical and critical thinking skills in this free online course. Identify common obstacles to effective thinking.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Logical and Critical Thinking

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Why join the course?

We are constantly being given reasons to do and believe things: to believe that we should buy a product, support a cause, accept a job, judge someone innocent or guilty, that fairness requires us to do some household chore, and so on. Assessing the reasons we are given to do or believe these things calls upon us to think critically and logically.

Improve your logical and critical thinking skills

Even though we’re called upon to use our critical and logical thinking skills all the time, most of us are not that good at it. This free online course aims to help you develop and improve these skills.

You’ll learn how to:

  • identify and avoid common thinking mistakes that lead to the formation of bad beliefs;
  • recognise, reconstruct and evaluate arguments;
  • use basic logical tools to analyse arguments;
  • and apply those tools in areas including science, moral theories and law.

Associate Professor Tim Dare and Dr Patrick Girard from the University of Auckland take us on an informative and engaging eight week journey through the worlds of logical and critical thinking helping us to avoid these common obstacles and fallacies and improve our logical and critical thinking skills.

Throughout the course, Tim and Patrick provide videos, articles, and assignments to lead us through the thickets of logical and critical thinking.

We will spend the first half of the course exploring key concepts in logical and critical thinking. In the second half of the course, we will apply those concepts in familiar areas, to help you develop practical and useful logical and critical thinking skills.

We begin, in the first week, with an introduction to logical and critical thinking and common obstacles and fallacies.

In week two Patrick introduces arguments. We learn to identify premises and conclusions – components of a good argument – and by the end of this week we’ll be able to construct an argument in standard form.

In week three we will learn how to distinguish between deductive and non-deductive arguments and about validity, invalidity, strength and weakness.

In week four we examine good and bad arguments in more detail, learning how to tell when an argument is sound or cogent, and how to evaluate an argument.

Weeks five to seven examine three familiar areas – science, law, and morality – that call upon our logical and critical thinking skills in ways appropriate to the particular demands of those areas.

Finally in week eight we will apply the lessons of the course to an argument “in the wild”, seeing how the skills we have developed over our eight-week journey can be used in our own lives.

By the end of the course, you will have acquired the basic skills to assess arguments logically and critically, and so to be in a better situation to own the reasons for your beliefs.

You can find out more in Patrick’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “What can the New Zealand flag teach us about logical and critical thinking?

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

  • Identify common flaws in belief construction
  • Recognise and reconstruct arguments
  • Evaluate arguments as being good or bad
  • Analyse arguments using basic logical tools
  • Apply basic logical strategies in areas such as science, moral theories and law

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore key concepts in logical and critical thinking
  • Apply key concepts in logical and critical thinking
  • Identify obstacles to logical and critical thinking
  • Identify the components of a good argument
  • Produce an argument in standard form
  • Classify deductive and non-deductive arguments
  • Evaluate arguments based on criteria such as validity, strength and cogency
  • Interpret scientific, moral and legal arguments
  • Develop an argument "in the wild"
  • Assess arguments charitably

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone with an interest in improving their logical and critical thinking skills. No previous knowledge or experience is required.

Who will you learn with?

Tim Dare

Tim Dare is Head of Philosophy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He lives on a (very) small farm with his wife Justine and two pet pigs. He is committed to the practical value of philosophy

Patrick Girard

I am originally from Québec, Canada. I completed a Ph.D in Philosophy at Stanford University in 2008, specialising in Logic, and I am now a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Who developed the course?

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading university and the only one included in the Times Higher Education top 200.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $69 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

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  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

Image certificate mobile

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete.

Upgrade


Still want to know more? Check out our FAQs

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Availability heuristic
    Availability heuristic
    video

    We tend to judge the probability of an event by seeing how readily examples come to mind, rather than by working out the real probabilities.

  • Pohutukawa tree case study
    Pohutukawa tree case study
    video

    When is it best to express your views by providing reasons? Are there cases in which other ways of expressing yourself might be better suited?

  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
    Arguments for and against the existence of God
    video

    John Bishop and Patrick Girard from the University of Auckland discuss deductive and non-deductive arguments for and against the existence of God.