PHIL110-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


This course is a critical thinker's toolkit. It will teach you 20 principles you can use to tell science from pseudo-science, truth from falsehood, logic from rhetoric, sound reasoning from wishful thinking, effective medicine from quackery, and good evidence from lies, fraud and fakery. The critical thinking skills you learn in this course will be vital if you go on to do more philosophy. They are also readily applicable to other disciplines, and should help you steer clear of scam-artists, charlatans, confidence-tricksters and get-rich-quick-schemes in the world outside of academia. Topics covered include the fallibility of the senses, the fallibility of memory, the placebo effect, the tricks of the cold reader’s trade, confirmation bias, the Barnum effect, relativism, mind viruses, the basics of logic, formal and informal fallacies, and the scientific evaluation of competing hypotheses.

There are two occurrences of this course -- an on-campus (C) occurrence and a distance (D) occurrence. This occurrence of the course is the on-campus one. If you are a distance student, please enrol in the other. Videos of all lectures are available online, and all assessment is submitted online. Physical attendance of lectures by on-campus students is highly recommended, but not required in case of time-table clashes.

Not only is philosophy one of the most interesting and challenging subjects, it teaches skills that employers want: thinking outside the box, logic, ethics, and excellent writing and communication skills. At UC you can do either a BA or a BSc in Philosophy, or combine a Philosophy major with the LLB, BCom, or another degree.

BA or BSc students who major in philosophy must normally take at least two 100-level PHIL courses, plus at least three 200-level PHIL courses (including PHIL233), plus at least 60-points from 300-level PHIL courses (including at least one course from this list: PHIL305; PHIL310; PHIL311; and PHIL317).  For more information see the BA regulations and/or the BSc regulations.

Here's a simple diagram of Philosophy courses by topic - from ethics to computers to the meaning of life.

Learning Outcomes

  • In this course you will learn:
  • An ability to apply twenty key principles for good critical thinking.
  • The ability to recognise common patterns of sound and fallacious reasoning.
  • An understanding of the essential elements of the scientific method, and of common sources of erroneous belief.
  • The acquisition of thinking and writing skills with wide academic and vocational applicability.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.



Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 11:00 A2 Lecture Theatre
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 11:00 - 12:00 E8 Lecture Theatre
22 Feb - 28 Mar
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 09:00 - 10:00 Beatrice Tinsley 112
1 Mar - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
02 Thursday 10:00 - 11:00 Beatrice Tinsley 112
1 Mar - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
03 Monday 11:00 - 12:00 Rehua 427 Technology Workshop
1 Mar - 4 Apr
3 May - 6 Jun
04 Wednesday 12:00 - 13:00 Ernest Rutherford 225
1 Mar - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
05 Wednesday 11:00 - 12:00 Ernest Rutherford 225
1 Mar - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
06 Thursday 11:00 - 12:00 Beatrice Tinsley 112
1 Mar - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
07 Tuesday 11:00 - 12:00 Jack Erskine 445
1 Mar - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Douglas Campbell

Contact Douglas for further information.


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 1 30% Due last day of term 1
Essay 2 30% Due last day of term 2
Online assessment tasks 40% Best ten of 12 weekly online assessment tasks, worth 4% each

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Schick, Theodore. , Vaughn, Lewis; How to think about weird things : critical thinking for a new age ; 6th ed; McGraw-Hill, 2010.

(*Image: "Almagestum Novum Frontispiece" by G. B. Riccioli, available under public domain.)

Course links

Library portal
Philosophy Essay Writing Guide (available to all enrolled Philosophy students)
Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $785.00

International fee $3,500.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts .

All PHIL110 Occurrences

  • PHIL110-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021
  • PHIL110-21S1 (D) Semester One 2021 (Distance)