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Study information

Symbolic Logic

Module titleSymbolic Logic
Module codePHL2021
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Jonathan Davies (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this course you will be introduced to the basic concepts and methods of formal logic and develop some important techniques for evaluating arguments. You will cover the formal language of sentential logic. This will allow you to uncover the underlying structure of many basic arguments and to study the nature of valid deductive reasoning. The semantics and syntax of deductive arguments will be assessed and proofs developed in basic sentential logic.

These skills will equip you with tools that allow you to engage with the semantics and syntactic of philosophical arguments, revealing the general features of valid deductive reasoning.The emphasis will be on the application of logical analysis to natural language arguments. To this end you will focus on the natural deduction method of proofs.

It is expected that in taking this course you will have completed the module Evidence and Argument PHL1005A.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to develop your reasoning skills and provide a thorough grounding in the logical analysis of philosophical arguments. These skills are a fundamental component of the analytical philosopher’s toolkit and will allow the students to analyse a wide range of arguments from the abstract to the practical. Symbolisation and the natural deduction method facilitate a broad understanding of the forms of argument that are widely used (and misused) in academic discourse and everyday life. The translation of, sometimes vague and imprecise, natural language arguments into the precise and unambiguous languages of basic sentential and predicate logic is a powerful tool for revealing what is actually at stake in arguments. The construction of proofs in these formal languages also develops a rigour and precision in the students’ reasoning that will be invaluable in a wide range of circumstances.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. symbolise complex natural language arguments in sentential and monadic predicate logic
  • 2. test argument validity with truth tables and interpretations
  • 3. develop proofs in sentential logic making use of the natural deduction method

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. analyse and understand the underlying structure of arguments
  • 5. apply an understanding of logical structure to natural language arguments
  • 6. develop reasoning skills with the logical tools learned

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. construct and evaluate arguments
  • 8. formulate and express ideas clearly and rigourously at different levels of abstraction

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


 Arguments, Logical Form, Validity

 Symbolizing Arguments in Sentential Logic

 Syntax and Semantics for Sentential Logic

 Testing Argument Validity: Truth-Tables and Interpretations

 Natural Deduction (Proofs) in Sentential Logic 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Weekly 2-hour lectures / seminars or 1 hour lecture + 1 hour seminar
Guided Independent Study33Assigned readings associated with each seminar
Guided Independent Study10Preparation for class discussion
Guided Independent Study25Preparation for Assigned Essay
Guided Independent Study 60Exam Revision and Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class exercises1-8Verbal tutor and peer feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Homework assignments30Two homework assignments set at regular intervals throughout the module 1-8Written and verbal feedback
Examination701.5 hours1-8Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Homework assignmentsTwo homework assignments set at appropriate intervals1-8August/September reassessment period
ExaminationExamination (1.5 hours)1-8August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Forbes, G.Modern Logic: A Text in Elementary Symbolic Logic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Smith, P. An Introduction to Formal Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources



Key words search

Symbolic Logic, sentential logic

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date