Critical Thinking
Study plans 2016-2017 - IMT6271 - 5 ECTS



Expected learning outcomes

The course will teach the candidate critical thinking in the context of academic research.   The course contributes towards the following learning outcomes:


Strong understanding of academic theory and the preparation of high‐quality research.  An understanding of what processes are used, the threats that is facing these processes and techniques for mitigating these threats.  Understanding the significance of identifying and assessing the assumptions and premises of research works, potential limitations and problems.

Ability to select appropriate research methods and sampling techniques for the candidate's research field.  When completed the course, the candidate has acquired an enhanced knowledge to evaluate the appropriateness and usefulness of various perspectives, methods and processes in research and in academic and/or artistic projects.


Having completed the course, the candidate has acquired enhanced skills to analyse and handle complex academic questions and challenge established knowledge and practise within their subject area.  In particular, the candidate will be able to identify and assess the significance of underlying assumptions made in other research works.  This skill will be of particular use when analyzing to which extent a certain research result is applicable and relevant for a given real life setting.

Ability to support and participate in Industrial and Academic research projects at a high international level.  Understanding underlying assumptions in a project will provide the candidate with skills for identifying issues that will be critical to the success of a project. 

The skills acquired will go some way towards making the candidate able to identify and understand the underlying assumption present, the candidate is in a better position to assess if these assumptions have ethical implications that need to be highlighted or investigated further.

General competence

Can participate in debates within their subject area in national and international forums, and in particular, identify when questionable arguments are used -  e.g. because an argument is based on assumptions that are not valid in the given context.

Can evaluate the need for renewal, and can initiate and engage in groundbreaking thinking and innovation.  In particular, through the identification of underlying assumptions that no longer are valid, propose alternative sets of assumptions more appropriate in the current environment on which new research can be built.


  • What is critical thinking?
  • The development of critical thinking skills
  • Argument identification
  • Arguments vs non-arguments
  • Clarity, consistency and structure
  • Recognizing underlying assumptions and implicit arguments
  • Identification of argument flaws
  • Finding and evaluating evidence
  • Identifying analysis and evaluating critical writing
  • Critical reflection

Teaching Methods

Project work

Teaching Methods (additional text)

  • Self study/reading

The course is designed such as to provide knowledge, skills and general competences that will be directly usable for candidates in their research work.  The candidates will present several 'case papers' that are to be evaluated.  The candidate and supervisor are required to propose 'case papers' from their area of research.  The evaluation of papers will be discussed in seminars.  The candidate will provide a written report giving a summary of the paper analyzed, including a critical analysis. Candidates that produce outstanding reports/particularly interesting or surprising findings will be encouraged and offered guidance to turn their report into a scholarly paper.  The course seminars will benefit from a multi-disciplinary perspective by including candidates and supervisors from different disciplines/areas whenever possible.

Form(s) of Assessment


Form(s) of Assessment (additional text)

Each candidate must hand in his/her own individual report.  Seminars and reports must document that the candidate is able to apply the knowledge, skills and competences in their research field. Each candidate is to give 3 presentations, each presenting a paper and its evaluation.

Grading Scale


External/internal examiner

Internal examiner – Supervisor and course responsible in cooperation.

Or external and internal examiner. External examiner will be used within 5 years period, next time at latest in 2018.

Re-sit examination

The whole course must be repeated.

Coursework Requirements


Teaching Materials

Papers and books such as

[Wallace 2011] Mike Wallace and Alison Wray.  Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates (SAGE Study Skills Series).  SAGE Publications Ltd.  Second Edition.  2011.

[Brink-Budgen 2010] Roy van den Brink-Budgen.  Advanced Critical Thinking Skills. 2010

[Cottrell 2011] Stella Cottrell.  Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument (Palgrave Study Skills). Palgrave Macmillan; 2nd edition edition. 2011.

[Graham 2003] Leah Graham and Panagiotis Takis Metaxas. 2003. "Of course it's true; I saw it on the Internet!": critical thinking in the Internet era. Commun. ACM 46, 5 (May 2003), 70-75. DOI=10.1145/769800.769804

[ Lai ] Emily R. Lai. Critical thinking: A literature review – Pearson education. Available from  Visited March 19, 2013.

[Stephen 1985]  Norris, Stephen P. "Synthesis of research on critical thinking." Educational leadership 42.8 (1985): 40-45.

Additional information

The course is stipulated to require 150 hours of student work.  This estimate is broken down as follows:

  • Select and read literature on critical thinking, relevant for the course and the articles selected  (20 hours)
  • Prepare 3 seminar contributions each including (total 3 contribs * 15 hours/contrib = 45hrs)
    • Present a summary of the paper to be analyzed (5 slides/15min)
    • Answer questions regarding paper content (5 min)
    • Present an evaluation of the paper, identifying and evaluating underlying assumptions (explicit and implicit), explaining and analyzing deductions and evaluating the validity of paper results (5 slides /15 minutes).
    • Participate in discussions relating to the evaluation (15 min).
    • Attend seminars (10 hours).
    • Produce a written report providing summaries and evaluations of 6 articles with respect to assumptions and deductions as described above. (1 page summary, 2 pages for evaluation, a total of 18 pages , 11pt/A4 standard margins/spacing. (75 hours)