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Critical Thinking

To think critically involves the ability to use information in order to produce academic writing that is well formulated, argued and evidenced.

5 things you need to know...

Success at university depends upon your ability to think critically. This skill is required for postgraduate study and in the graduate workplace. It involves:

  1. Critically appraisal your sources of information.  This involves reading critically by questioning. Who wrote this? Why did they do it that way that? How have they reached their conclusions?  Is there any other explanation for this? Do not just accept what you read or see.
  2. Discover where the weight of evidence lies.  How many experts in the subject area agree?  Do any experts disagree and if so, why?  This should challenge your thinking.
  3. Be sceptical about research.  How old is the research?  How experienced is the researcher?  Did they justify their research methodology?   Do you agree with their findings?  Were the conclusions sensible?  Could the research be improved upon?  Can you justify using this research in your assignment?  
  4. Evaluate the evidence and draw your own sensible assumptions. Your tutor is looking for your informed opinion after conducting thorough research.  This may include making suggestions for further research.  To do this you need to become an efficient and effective library researcher and learn to use Google Scholar.
  5. Develop your ability to write critically.  This means learning to use the literature to support the arguments and assumptions you want to make in your writing.  If you are describing texts, you need to have a reason for doing so.  Remember, anyone can copy information from a book.  The skill is in your ability to question, evaluate and communicate.

Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above.  

Related factsheets

LEEDS UNIVERSITY (2019) Critical Thinking. [Accessed:2 September 2019]

LEARN HIGHER (2019) Critical Thinking and Reflection[Accessed: 2 September 2019]

There are many books concerning critical thinking – see Dewey number 370 in the library

Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

Make an appointment for an online discussion or email support  by using our online booking form.

Steps to success

Personalising your device and using assistive tools

There are many assistive technology tools which can help you choose how you want to access material and these can really improve your productivity.

The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.