Critical Thinking A Level

Due to ongoing reforms, the final opportunity to sit exams for this specification is Summer 2018.

The deadline for enrolling is 30th November and we strongly recommend adding our Fast Track service to your enrolment.

Being able to think about and articulate complex ideas and arguments is a skill that will prove useful in work, education and life as a whole. This home study course should enable you to do just that, teaching you techniques of analysis and comprehension that put you in a better position to formulate complex arguments and clearly express yourself. Examining different methods of reasoning, our distance learning critical thinking A level is the perfect complement to other subjects and can serve as a way of generally improving your reasoning skills.



Course requirements

No previous knowledge is required for this course. This is an online course so you will need access to the internet.

Duration of study

As a guideline, you should allow for between 250 and 300 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period up until the final exam opportunity in Summer 2018.


This course follows specifications H052 (AS) and H452 (A2) from the awarding organisation OCR. Full details of the specifications can be obtained from OCR's website.


Unit 1 - Introduction to critical thinking
  • Identifying arguments and conclusions
  • Identifying reasons and considering support
  • Identifying other elements of argument
  • Assumptions
  • Evaluating evidence
  • The criteria
  • Applying the credibility criteria
  • Revision guide for Unit 1

Unit 2 - Assessing and developing argument
  • Identifying more elements of argument
  • Developing your reasoning: getting started
  • Considering support
  • Evaluating argument and counter argument
  • Developing your reasoning: make progress
  • Evaluating argument: using evidence and examples in argument
  • Developing reasoning: using evidence and examples in argument
  • Evaluating reasoning: appeals
  • Evaluating reasoning: flaws
  • Developing your reasoning: avoiding weakness
  • Evaluating patterns of reasoning
  • Developing your reasoning: extending your ability
  • Revision guide for Unit 2

Unit 3 - Ethical reasoning and decision-making
  • The nature of ethical reasoning
  • The factors that make moral decisions complex
  • Using criteria to make choices
  • Dilemmas
  • Applying ethical reasoning to ethical decisions

Unit 4 - Critical reasoning
  • The structure and analysis of argument
  • Revisiting the evaluation of argument – flaws of reasoning
  • Assumptions and inferences
  • Problems of meaning
  • Arguments and explanations
  • Analysing and developing complex arguments

Exams and assessment

Four exams:
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 25% of marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 25% of marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 30% of marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 20% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):
  • None


Assignments do not contribute towards your final grade but provide you with an opportunity to submit work to your tutor for marking and feedback. This will help you to gauge your progress as you work through the course.

This course has:
  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 8 AS assignments
  • 6 A2 assignments

Set texts and resources

Additional texts for AS level:
  • OCR AS Critical Thinking, J Lally et al., Heinemann 2008

Using learn@nec

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:
  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser

  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above.
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative examples:
For the full A level
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months

For AS level or A2 level
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months
  0% (fixed)

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to or visit
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

A level Critical Thinking Course Sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

Please fill out your details below, and you will receive an email containing a link to download the course sample.

What our students say...

"I enjoyed the flexibility of organising my own time and being able to go at a rate which suited me. I’d say distance learning is a great option, particularly if you are self-motivated or independent."
— Josh Donegani