Advice and resources on the subject of critical thinking.
Why is being critical important?
It affects your academic success: if you wish to achieve higher grades, being able to take an informed and analytical approach to your studies is very important. Simply memorising and explaining concepts and ideas will not be sufficient for a strong pass at masters level. You need to be able to demonstrate knowledge of your subject and give your opinion(s) supported by evidence that you have judged to be appropriate.
It affects your employability: one of the main reasons students undertake postgraduate study is to improve their employment prospects. Higher-level thinking and reasoning skills can be applied across many areas of work e.g. strategic planning, trouble shooting, problem solving, and critical evaluation of projects and processes. They are therefore essential to develop and demonstrate to prospective employers after graduation.
What do we mean by ‘critical’?
Being ‘critical’ does not mean just being negative, or pointing out what is wrong about something. At master’s level, ‘critical’ means “Fully informed, capable of supporting in-depth analysis and assessment” (Scottish credit and qualifications framework, level descriptors).
You can find out more about the framework at :
SCQF level descriptors (PDF)
Taking a critical approach in your studies and professional development can include behaviours such as:
•thinking carefully about what you read and why: judging what resources are credible, reflecting on and developing your search techniques, not just looking for and reading the obvious and / or the first things you come across
•questioning and testing what you read: do the author’s viewpoints and ideas appear justified? Why - or why not?
•looking for connections (or disparities), and constructing your own arguments supported by a range carefully considered viewpoints, not just repeating the ideas of others