Course Syllabus

Welcome to PHIL102: Introduction to Critical Thinking and Logic

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.


Course Description

Improve your practice of nearly every major discipline, from the physical sciences and medicine to politics, law, and the humanities, by learning how to think critically and reason through problems.


Course Introduction

This course will introduce you to critical thinking, informal logic, and a small amount of formal logic. Its purpose is to provide you with the basic tools of analytical reasoning, which will give you a distinctive edge in a wide variety of careers and courses of study. While many university courses focus on the presentation of content knowledge, the emphasis here is on learning how to think effectively. Although the techniques and concepts covered here are classified as philosophical, they are essential to the practice of nearly every major discipline, from the physical sciences and medicine to politics, law, and the humanities.

The course touches upon a wide range of reasoning skills, from verbal argument analysis to formal logic, visual and statistical reasoning, scientific methodology, and creative thinking. Mastering these skills will help you become a more perceptive reader and listener, a more persuasive writer and presenter, and a more effective researcher and scientist.

The first unit introduces the terrain of critical thinking and covers the basics of meaning analysis, while the second unit provides a primer in analyzing arguments. All of the material in these first units will be built upon in subsequent units, which cover informal and formal logic, Venn diagrams, scientific reasoning, as well as strategic and creative thinking.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction and Meaning Analysis
  • Unit 2: Argument Analysis
  • Unit 3: Basic Sentential Logic
  • Unit 4: Venn Diagrams
  • Unit 5: Fallacies
  • Unit 6: Scientific Reasoning
  • Unit 7: Strategic Reasoning and Creativity


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • describe what critical thinking is, and explain why it is valuable;
  • assess the credibility and reliability of sources;
  • distinguish between good and bad definitions, recognize the differences between explicit and implicit meaning, and remove ambiguities of meaning from unclearly worded statements;
  • recognize arguments in writing, evaluate good and bad arguments, and construct sound arguments of your own;
  • diagnose the most common reasoning errors and fallacies as well as identify ways of improving them;
  • describe and apply the basics of sentential and categorical logic;
  • describe and apply the rudiments of scientific methodology and reasoning;
  • analyze and evaluate arguments using visualization tools; and
  • describe and apply the basics of strategic reasoning and problem-solving.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.


Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor Academy's Direct Credit ProgramIf you want to earn college credit, you must take and pass the Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and requires a proctor. You must also take the graded quizzes, which are described below.

If you are seeking credit for this course, your grade will be calculated based on three graded quizzes and the Saylor Direct Credit final exam. Each of the graded quizzes counts for 10% of your total course grade. The final exam counts for 70% of your total course grade. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a total course grade of 70% or higher. Your score on the quizzes and on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete them. If you pass the Direct Credit exam and the graded quizzes, you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate and be eligible to earn an official transcript. For more information about applying for college credit, review the guide to college credit opportunities. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details like fees and technical requirements.

There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam and the graded quizzes. There is no waiting period between attempts for the not-for-credit exam and the Direct Credit exam or the graded quizzes. You may only attempt the Direct Credit final exam and the graded quizzes a maximum of 3 times each. Be sure to study in between each attempt!


Tips for Success

PHIL102: Introduction to Critical Thinking and Logic is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 40 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional Direct Credit final exam, then you will also need access to a webcam. This lets our remote proctoring service verify your identity, which is required to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course also has an optional final exam that can give you an opportunity to earn college credit. This exam requires the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring for this optional exam is $25 per session.

Last modified: Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 11:12 AM