The University of Southampton
Courses

HUMA5002 Reasoning, Study and Research Skills

Module Overview

The module will form a central part of the Pre-Masters programme and should be treated as a precursor to Reasoning, Study and Research Skills II (PHIL3039). The aim of the module is to develop a number of critical thinking skills and impart forms of knowledge crucial to successful work at MA level. In addition to some basic Study Skills, the module will focus on critical reading, critical listening, critical thinking, critical writing and oral presentation, effective research skills and group work.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module will form a central part of the Pre-Masters programme and should be treated as a precursor to Reasoning, Study and Research Skills II (PHIL3039). The aim of the module is to develop a number of critical thinking skills and impart forms of knowledge crucial to successful work at MA level. In addition to some basic Study Skills, the module will focus on critical reading, critical listening, critical thinking, critical writing and oral presentation, effective research skills and group work.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Demonstrate a reflective and critical approach to your own work and that of others
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the foundations of critical thinking
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use research resources intelligently
  • Plan your work effectively to deadlines
  • Work effectively alone and with others
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Interpret, analyse, juxtapose and criticise complex texts
  • Present and debate ideas in an open minded and rigorous way, both orally and in writing and both individually and as a member of a group.

Syllabus

The programme will be based round 5 themes: 1) Basic Study Skills 2) Critical Reading and Listening 3) Critical Thinking 4) Critical Writing, Group Work and Oral Presentation 5) Research Skills The interconnectedness of the skills involved in (1-5) will be stressed but the balance of attention will shift from (1) and (2) at the very start of the programme to (4) and (5) at the end, all underpinned by an exploration of (3). The emphasis throughout will be on practice in the skills to be mastered, that is to say, on learning by doing. 1) Basic Study Skills Our first theme is Basic Study Skills which will cultivate a reflective approach to study through which such skills can be identified, their importance recognized and, through practical training, their mastery achieved. The skills in question will include working with others, searching for and utilising academic resources and effective planning. 2) Critical Reading and Listening The capacity to understand, analyse and evaluate complex texts and oral presentations lies at the heart of successful postgraduate study. This theme will explore the process from initial encounter with material, through to the construction of critical and comparative assessments of the argument revealed. While identifying a range of useful techniques that can facilitate this process, the focus will lie on practice in the skills in question, using a range of written, video and audio sources. 3) Critical Thinking Crucial to the capacity to analyse and evaluate texts is a mastery of the foundations of critical thinking. The theme will explore • Recognising arguments by identifying premises, conclusions, arguments from analogy and structurally valid and invalid arguments within complex texts • Evaluating arguments by considering counter-argumentation, the identification of assumptions and fallacies, etc • Concepts of evidence, considering questions of neutrality, bias, expertise, corroboration, and selectivity, as well as issues raised by statistical and numerical evidence Once again the inter-twining of our different themes will be a focus. So, for example, a proper appreciation of just what a passage claims will draw on skills mastered in Critical Reading and Listening. By drawing on skills mastered in Critical Thinking, this in turn will allow for a determination of which kinds of evidence the passage can be expected to adduce and the flaws its argument might be expected to include. 4) Critical Writing, Group Work and Oral Presentation The processes of critical reading, listening and thinking will ultimately be brought to bear on your own work, refining your own capacity for self-expression individually and collectively, orally and on paper. After an initial discussion of the basics of academic writing and the virtues that it requires – of clarity, concision, relevance, etc – this theme will focus on practice in essay writing and oral presentation, both individually and in groups. Reflection on the many skills needed for success will be organised around the pursuit of effective, persuasive argument, exploring, for example, the importance of: • Introductions, conclusions, and ‘sign-posting’ • Identifying the task your work must address (‘questioning the question’) • The effective use of quotations • The review and assessment of your own work We will also here seek to drive on your appreciation of the challenges of the to-and-fro of intellectual debate at postgraduate level. We will ask you to construct and present arguments, assess each other’s arguments and turn your critical powers on your own work (‘Having argued for p, how would you argue for not-p?’). 5) Research Skills The development of capacities of critical comprehension, reflection and expression that this module seeks is embedded in your development for postgraduate study and its distinctive demands. Central to these are the demands of research and the fifth theme will focus on those demands. Beyond the basics of familiarising you with library and online resources, we will seek to develop an awareness of the intelligent use of those resources (e.g. the identification and evaluation of sources) in the service of developing ambitious but also realistic research projects.

Special Features

The module will draw on Philosophy’s extensive experience of teaching critical, analytic and evaluative skills in its work in Critical Thinking and Applied Ethics. Through this work, Philosophy has developed written, audio and visual resources that are both challenging and accessible for those without a philosophical background. The module will be supported by online tools and homework projects based around the Study Skills Toolkit. But the focus will lie on the analysis, evaluation and production of sustained and focused pieces of academic work and on practice and development of the skills needed for success in postgraduate work. Much of the material will focus on issues in what might be called ‘applied ethics’, as this is material that both requires careful critical analysis and evaluation and is accessible to students with a wide-range of backgrounds.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • One lecture per week • Four hours of seminar work per week Learning activities include • Attending lectures and seminars • Contributing to discussion in lectures and seminars • Engaging in seminar tasks • Preparing the assessed work

TypeHours
Independent Study180
Teaching120
Total study time300

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

All assessment is individual, except those labelled ‘group’. Some of these tasks will be undertaken in class, others in your own time. Feedback will be provided on all assessment tasks. You will also be given feedback on non-assessed assignments throughout the module. These formative assignments (F) will not contribute to your final mark. The deadlines for submitted work will be identified for you at the beginning of the teaching weeks. Work listed in bold will contribute to your overall mark.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Editor's instruction 50%
Group presentation  (20 minutes) 15%
In-class Test 10%
In-class Test 25%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×