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Critical Thinking With Data (UNIB10006)

Undergraduate level 1Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 1
Subject codeUNIB10006
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject teaches students to become critical users of data-based evidence. Future journalists, political scientists, sociologists, lawyers, health professionals, psychologists, environmental scientists, business people, engineers, scientists and teachers will develop skills in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and reports based on quantitative evidence, and learn to evaluate reasoning that uses probabilistic ideas.

Data-based evidence is found in the media, in academic research and in many aspects of everyday life. The subject examines ways of judging the quality of quantitative information, and the strength of conclusions drawn from it, including concerns in establishing causality. It discusses how variability may be characterised and modelled in a wide variety of settings including public opinion, health, sport, legal disputes, and the environment. It covers good and bad ways of examining evidence in data. The subject deals with judging the likelihood of events, common pitfalls in thinking about probability, measuring risk in medical contexts and quantifying uncertainty in conclusions. It describes how data-based evidence can contribute to the accumulation of knowledge.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students should be able to

  • think critically about quantitative data in a broad range of contexts;

and should understand

  • the principles behind collecting data as evidence (through controlled experiments, surveys and observational studies);
  • how to examine the evidence in data (including graphical representation, summary measures, and the concepts of variation and modelling);
  • how to think about and describe the uncertainty in data (including probability, risk and psychological influences affecting human judgements about risk);
  • how to draw conclusions from the evidence in data (including confidence intervals, p-values and meta analysis);
  • how to critically assess media reports based on quantitative data.

Generic skills

Students with a breadth of knowledge across disciplines must be able to understand and critically evaluate the methodologies and research findings based on data. This subject aims to provide students with these critical thinking skills. It will be important for any student wishing to develop generic research and problem-solving skills. The subject will expose students to the application of data-based evidence across a range of disciplines, and contribute to their developing interdisciplinary understanding.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Six short assignments: three written amounting to a total of up to 600 words and three 1 hour on-line assessments,both due at regular intervals throughout the semester (30%)
  • 10 weekly on-line revision quizzes, made up of 10 multiple answer questions (5%)
  • One 1200 word written assignment due at the end of semester (15%)
  • A group project involving production of a poster and a 4-minute oral presentation due after mid-semester (10%)
  • 2 hour written examination (40%)

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorJulia Polak
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours3 x one hour lectures per week, 1 x one hour practice class per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

Estimated total time commitment of 170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts


  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 14 August 2019