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Informal Logic

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Is your MP attacking ad hominem, ‘begging the question’ or sliding down a ‘slippery slope’? How worrying is a positive test for philosophicuscriticologicius?

Develop your ability to critique others’ reasoning and improve your own while solving puzzles, pondering paradoxes and analysing arguments.

No previous knowledge of philosophy or logic required.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through nine 2-hour sessions, made up of lectures, class discussions, small group work, and debates. Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Syllabus content

We will be concerned with the nature of different kinds of reasoning, the criteria appropriate to evaluating them and typical patterns of strengths and weaknesses in human thought.

Classes will incorporate a wide variety of materials to illustrate the application of theoretical concepts. These may include philosophical texts, legal cases, political discourse, advertisements, newspaper articles, online discussions, fiction, empirical work in the human sciences, especially psychology, cartoons, puzzles and other sources.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will be asked to undertake in-class exercises (20%), a take-home assignment (40%) and an argument analysis (40%).

Reading suggestions

  • Tom Tymoczko and Jim Henle (1995). Sweet Reason: A Field Guide to Modern Logic. W. H.Freeman.
  • Lewis Carroll (1974). The Philosopher’s Alice. With an intro. by Peter Heath. (Introduction and notes by Heath, Peter. Illustrations by John Tenniel). New York: St. Martin’s.
  • Lewis Carroll (1895). ‘What The Tortoise Said To Achilles’. Mind 4, 278-280.
  • Lewis Carroll (2008). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Project Gutenberg ebook.
  • Lewis Carroll (2008). Through the Looking-Glass. Project Gutenberg ebbok
  • Lewis Carroll (2003). The Game of Logic. Project Gutenberg
  • Raymond M. Smullyan (1982). Alice in Puzzle-Land: A Carrollian Tale for Children Under Eighty. With an intro. by Martin Gardner. Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin.
  • Raymond M. Smullyan (1982). The Lady or the Tiger? and Other Logic Puzzles. New York:Random House.
  • Raymond M. Smullyan (1982). To Mock A Mockingbird And Other Logic Puzzles Including An Amazing Adventure in Combinatory Logic. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Raymond M. Smullyan (1998). The Riddle of Scheherazade and Other Amazing Puzzles, Ancient & Modern. San Diego: Harcourt.
  • Raymond M. Smullyan (1978). What Is the Name of This Book? The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Tom Stoppard (1976). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. London: Samuel French.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.