Syllabus: ‘A’ Level H052/H452 (10/2013)
Examining Board: OCR 2013
Fast Track is a unique programme designed specifically for learners who want to obtain the qualifications in a short space of time; need to improve a current grade; revise to re-sit the AS/A level. Popular with mature students, returning learners, who need to prove academic ability before entry to higher education at University or, even improve employment prospects; all of whom want the flexibility of learning online at their own pace rather than conventional settings.
This Fast Track level three (3) course is based on the OCR Advanced General Certificate Education (GCE); that also includes units from the AS level (A-GCE) Specifications for Critical Thinking, which became available from 2016 examination series.
This course consists of FOUR UNITS (4) from the GCE ‘A’ Level and is a qualification in its own right. Students are strongly recommended to familiarise themselves with the new OCR specification for the A level GCE in Critical Thinking (for first examination in 2015).
The concept of the programme is to be able to study at a paced level that allows students to complete the programme in a short space of time, usually 12 months. In doing so, students can plan to sit the most suitable examination series following completion. Students can also use the course to sit either the A level or the AS level and in some cases students may want to sit both!
The College remains at the competitive edge of online and distance learning; and through our excellent track record, provide a quality assured programme of learning our fees are within the range of market trends for similar courses, but remain readily affordable.
Our fee for this course is £ 365:00* which can be paid in full or, through instalments.
(*The course fee excludes ALL external examinations costs).
Oxford Learning College offer the opportunity to study Critical Thinking as specified by OCR. This “A” level syllabus has several features the aims of these Creative Writing/Thinking specifications.
Critical Thinking is the analytical thinking which underlies all rational discourse and enquiry. It is characterised by a meticulous and rigorous approach. As an academic discipline, it is unique in that it explicitly focuses on the processes involved in being rational. These processes include:
· Analysing arguments
· Judging the relevance and significance of information
· Evaluating claims, inferences, arguments and explanations
· Constructing clear and coherent arguments
· Forming well-reasoned judgements and, decisions.
Being rational also requires an open-minded yet critical approach to one’s own thinking as well as that of others. The study of critical thinking will equip Students with reasoning skills to use in life, work and further academic study. It provides opportunities for Students to think deeply, and in a structured way, about issues that are key to participating in, society, e.g. ethical questions, cultural issues and issues of personal responsibility. It enables them to make reasoned decisions that are based on evidence and argument rather than assumption and prejudice.
The Advanced Subsidiary (AS) GCE specification (Units 1 & 2) gives an introduction to the concepts, principles and techniques that underlie critical thinking and expands their application to a range of contexts. The A2 (A) part of the Advanced GCE specification (Units 3 & 4) incorporates greater depth of understanding, analysis and evaluation across a range of wider and more challenging contexts. The course will allow students gain:
· An understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques of critical thinking;
· The skills of communication, problem-solving, analysis and evaluation;
· A framework for moral, social and ethical decision-making;
· A capacity for methodical and critical thought, which will serve as an end in itself as well as a basis for further study
Course Entry Requirements
Good English oral, reading and writing skills, previous study at level two (GCSE, IGCSE etc) or equivalent. Full tutor support is given although, Tutor’s are not able to support beyond specific syllabus queries, learning difficulties and marking/grading of TMA’s. General support is offered by OLC through its online and telephone student services centre.
Approximately: Ninety (90) hours of personal study time, per unit, which is supported by the student’s OLC Tutor, which is an optional arrangement for students, but we greatly encouraged students to access this to achieve a good examination outcome.
This qualification supports progression in our College to other Advanced GCE and other International Higher Awards in many academic subjects (see our level 4 & 5 portfolio of courses online); and also, allow students to move onto Higher Education or similar Institution completing: Foundation Degrees; Degrees Post-graduate and other formal qualifications.
Course Syllabus & Contents
The whole ‘A’ level has FOUR (4) specific units of study, which are sub-divided into FOUR (4) Units of learning, these are:
The Advanced Subsidiary GCE is the first half of the GCE course and consists of Units 1 and 2. It may be awarded as a discrete qualification or contribute 50 per cent of the total Advanced GCE marks
Unit One: AS Unit F501: Introduction to Critical Thinking
The unit is designed to give Students an introduction to important skills within Critical Thinking, including an understanding of how arguments are constructed. The unit also covers the area of credibility; and recognizes that the plausibility of an argument, or the evidence used to support it, is also influenced by its origin, be that a person or an organisation. Students will consider and explore: the Language of Reasoning considering the rational aspects of argument, dialogue and reasoning. The final aspect of the unit is to consider the aspect of Credibility, how we decide if some form of reasoning is valid, reliable and believable. This unit prepares the groundwork for further studies in unit 2.
Unit Two: AS Unit F502: Assessing and Developing Argument
Unit F502 builds on the skills developed in Unit F501. Students will be asked to identify a wider range of argument components from stimulus material in order to assess the structure of the arguments presented. Students will be expected to identify, explain or evaluate a range of potential weaknesses, flaws and other aspects of an argument. In doing so, Students should demonstrate an understanding of the difference between challenging reasoning with counter-arguments or alternative explanations, and the more complex skill of explaining the strengths/weaknesses of the original reasoning. Students will be asked to write their own arguments, in response to the stimulus material, and will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the importance of clear structure as well as of ensuring that the content of an argument clearly supports the conclusion given.
Analysis of Argument - Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of, and use accurately, a range of specific terms relevant to Critical Thinking,
Evaluating Arguments - Students should be able to assess strengths or weaknesses within arguments
Developing One’s Own Reasoned Arguments - Students should be able to produce their own arguments that either support or challenge a conclusion given in stimulus or other material. Students’ own arguments should demonstrate a clear structure and contain a range of argument components
Building on a growing knowledge base, gained from units one and two, students move forward to the comprehensive analytical units that hone the skills of critical thinking student!
The Advanced GCE is the second half of the GCE course and consists of Units 3 and 4. It must be completed with the other AS units to complete the Fast Track A Level qualification.
Unit Three: A2 Unit F503: Ethical Reasoning and Decision-making
The unit requires students to apply skills developed in the AS Critical Thinking course in the context of the ethical and moral debates that are familiar in everyday life, for example debates about abortion, euthanasia, environmental, or political issues.
Whilst students are expected to make use of a range of general principles in addressing such issues, it is not a requirement that students have detailed theoretical knowledge of ethical theories and principles. In approaching the content of this Unit, we will discover and explore the moral compass in which we frequently need to differentiate between moral concepts (e.g. the idea of duty), ethical theories (e.g. utilitarianism, egalitarianism) and ethical principles (e.g. we should treat people as equal).
Ethical Reasoning - students should be able to evaluate a range of source material and select appropriate ideas, comments and information to support their reasoning and analysis of complex moral and ethical problems.
Dilemmas, Applying Principles and Decision-making - students should demonstrate understanding of the nature of a dilemma (a situation where a choice must be made between equally unfavourable, or mutually exclusive, options, which will each result in undesirable consequences as well as benefits).
Student in the final unit develop their analytical and reasoning skills that bring the whole concepts of the course to conclusion.
Unit Four: A2 Unit F504: Critical Reasoning
In Unit F504, students are expected to be able to take an overview, identifying several issues, in an assessment of the strength (or weakness) of an entire argument. Students will be presented with a wide range of material based on articles found in newspapers, journals, books and magazines, including diagrams, images and statistical data. They will also be expected to sift passages of argument from articles which, in themselves are not argument, and to follow a train of reasoning even though this may not be technically an argument.
Students will therefore be expected to analyse and evaluate a wider range of forms of reasoning than those encountered at AS. However, they are not expected to have extensive prior knowledge of the topic used in stimulus material. In choosing evidence or examples, they are encouraged to make use of their own general knowledge, and may present examples in order to demonstrate the skills of supporting reasoning with evidence, or supporting a particular claim within an argument or passage of reasoning. This will include the following:
Analysis and Evaluation of Complex Arguments
Students should be able to analyse and describe the structure of complex arguments, or part arguments, identifying strands of reasoning. In addition to identifying elements of reasoning encountered in previous Units students, should recognise, identify and describe.
Developing One’s Own Cogent and Complex Arguments
Students should be able to form their own cogent arguments in response to source material. They should demonstrate the ability to select and use components of reasoning (including sustained response to counter-argument), and synthesise them, to create perceptive, complex, structured arguments.
At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to rationally argue and reason through the methods learnt and developed in critical thinking theory and practices.
Although the course programme is ‘self contained’ the student may wish to obtain further materials in regards to learning. The following materials are in the course materials alongside an excellent list of resources and FAQ’s, to guide learning: -
A full list is provided within the learning materials.
Andrew Northedge – The Good Study Guide Open University
All of the above can also be obtained in an electronic format
Greater detail of all the course information and resources will be provided after enrolment.
Awarding Body Syllabus
The course does not as standard have any examinations board ‘course work’ element and is therefore, has an end loaded final assessment by a FOUR (4) papers across the four syllabus units of learning.
To ensure that the four assessment objectives are clearly placed and assessed prior to the final examination, the TMA’s are weighted in accordance with these AO statements below:
AO1: Analyse critically the use of different kinds of reasoning in a wide range of contexts.
AO2: Evaluate critically the use of different kinds of reasoning in a wide range of contexts.
AO3: Develop and communicate relevant and coherent arguments clearly and accurately in a concise and logical manner.
Quality of Written Communication (QWC)
In addition, in GCE A-level specifications which require Students to produce written material in English, Students must: ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and grammar are accurate so that meaning is clear; select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose and to complex subject matter; organise, information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate. In this Specification, QWC will be assessed in all questions and in all units
Course Assessment Requirements
All the course units carry a Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA). These are marked by a dedicated team of tutors, one of whom will be allocated you as a student. They will advise your learning, mark your TMA’s and answer any academic course queries that may arise.
Students are also fully supported by a dedicated Student Services Team who are available to, guide all non-academic aspects of learning; from accessing materials, finding welfare support and any other pastoral or administrative needs during your course.
Each unit will also have its own Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA). These assignments will be based on actual examination questions (from past papers), which will prepare the student for the final examination. There is no coursework option for this programme.
The TMA should be sent/uploaded to the ODL tutor through the Online Campus, for marking and grading. Although tutor support is optional, it is a vital component in preparing the student for the examination and therefore, it is encouraged that students take full advantage of this support. The completed TMA unit can then be used as a ‘revision tool’ for the final examination.
Each TMA (four in all) completed once study of both the AS and A Level Modules for a unit are concluded. TMA’s will be graded in the same manner as the examination paper, with feedback comments and support/advise from the course tutor.
Each unit will have a short optional ‘self tasks’ which will ask revision questions about the content being learnt in the unit, and answers provided for the student to check their own knowledge and understanding. These ‘self tasks’ do not need to be sent into the tutor for marking – and if done so, would be returned unmarked!
Final Internal Grading
The scheme of assessment consists of a single tier, in which all components target the complete ranges of grades; from: A*–G. Students who fail to achieve grade G will be awarded Ungraded. The grades are weighted from marks attained in Units.
As there is no internal centre (OLC) coursework component, the internal OLC TMA’s do not form part of the final grading outcome for the student, although they do in essence prepare the student for a level of success in attaining a pass result in the examination. Therefore, it is advisable that students complete all TMA’s as part of their programme of learning and submitting them for tutor marking and comment.
The College will only provide academic references for such higher learning, only if the student has completed at least two (2) TMA’s. This allows the academic team to make an informed judgement of a student’s abilities for higher learning. In doing so, the College reserves the right to make a small charge for all academic reference requests.
All students take the single externally marked examination paper to attain the A Level GCE and/or AS Level or both, in Critical Thinking.
OCR Awarding Body
OCR has a complete area of their website dedicated to students. This specialist area is full of helpful advice and guidance on all aspects of the courses being offered. We advise students to make use of this invaluable resource. This resource can be accessed at the following website:
Examination Timetable 2017/8
The examinations timetable for 2017 for the UK and International Centres can be found through this link below:
Booking as an External ‘private’ Student
All our students are known as “private sitting Students.” We advise all our students to familiarise themselves with the process for planning to sit their examination at local registered centre. These are frequently: schools, colleges and other approved centres. The link below provides information about arrangement and centres for 2017/8:
All four units have an external examination the time allowed to complete each individual paper is 1.5 hours. The total examination time for all four papers is: 6 hours.
There will be one question based on each of the topics already stated. Students must answer two of these questions. Understanding of any one topic may be informed by a study of the others, and, where relevant, Students may draw on material from more than one topic in their answer to any question set. To study less than the full Specification content may disadvantage a Student’s synoptic grasp of the material for study. Where appropriate, answers should show awareness that there are differing views on the topics and issues studied.
To support revision and preparation we suggest student make careful notes throughout their course make frequent contact with their tutor and fellow students through our online campus. We also strongly suggest that students download past examination papers from the Awarding Body, at the following link:
Examination Award Grading/Result
The chosen sitting centre will be responsible for processing a Student’s results and arrangements to collect the award result remains with the Student and sitting centre. OLC, do not enter into any formal undertaking in this process.
The A level qualification will be graded on a five-point scale: A, B, C, D and E. The full A Level qualification will be graded on a six-point scale: A*, A, B, C, D and E. To be awarded an A* Students will need to achieve a grade A on the full A Level qualification and an A* on the aggregate of the A2 units.
For AS and A Level, Students who fail to reach the minimum standard for grade E will be recorded as U (unclassified) and will not receive a qualification certificate. Individual assessment unit results will be certificated. Information about final grading and certification can be obtained at the Awarding Body web link given above.
Exit Award & Certification
We will provide a “College Certificate of attendance/attainment”, but you must sit the final external examination to obtain the award: “General Certificate in Education in Classics: Classic Civilisations”. Like most academic institutions/businesses, our certificate will only prove that you have studies to an accepted level to sit the formal examination, only when you have successfully passed