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Skills Lab I: Argumentative and Rhetorical Strategies




Admissions requirements



How do you get persuaded? How to distinguish between good and bad arguments? And how to recognise rhetorical tricks? In this course, you will learn about verbal manipulation. Each week, we will examine rhetorical strategies (session 1) and analyse argumentative discourse (session 2). We will focus on two classical rhetorical practices: politics and law. You will learn that speakers do not only use argumentation for persuading their audience, but also ethos and pathos, as well as stylistic devices and presentational means. You will learn how to find the implicit elements in their argumentation, make a schematic overview of the arguments in their line of reasoning and recognise fallacies. This will enable you to pass a well-considered judgment on the tenability of the expressed opinion.

Week 1: Rhetorical principles / Standpoints and argumentation
Week 2: Speech arrangement / Unexpressed standpoints and premises
Week 3: Main lines of argument / Types of argument
Week 4: Presentations (speech and justifications)
Week 5: Ethos & pathos / Fallacies 1
Week 6: Style / Fallacies 2
Week 7: Presentations (final speech)
Week 8: Final Exam / No class

Course objectives

  • To gain knowledge of basic argumentative concepts

  • To gain knowledge of basic rhetorical concepts

  • To be able to identify and analyse the argumentative and rhetorical devices used in a text

  • To be able to provide a basic assessment of the use of these devices

  • After completion of this course, you will be able to critically analyse and evaluate argumentative discourse. Additionally, you will gain insight into making your own speeches and discussion contributions as convincing as possible.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of a weekly seminar on rhetoric and a weekly seminar on argumentation theory. These seminars will be thought based on the course literature and recent examples from argumentative practice (predominantly from the fields of politics and law). In weeks 4 and 7, students have to team up and deliver an oral speech on a current affairs topic of their choosing.


Weekly assignments (5), 20%, Weeks 1-3 and 5-6;
Oral speech + written reflection, 30%, Week 7;
Written exam (questions about theory and text analysis), 40%, Week 8;
In-class participation, 10%, weeks 1-7.

Assignments should be made individually. At the start of the class for which an assignment is due, students have to hand in a hard copy of their assignment. For each day that an assignment is late, a letter grade will be deducted. To receive the course credits, not more than two assignments may be missing.

Oral speech and written reflection
In weeks 4 and 7, a team of two students delivers a speech in which they apply the argumentative and rhetorical insights gained in this course. Additionally, a written version of the final speech will be handed in, accompanied by a written reflection in which it is argued why certain presentational choices have been made (max. 2 A4). In principle, the students will be graded as a team. Their grade will be based on the students’ final speech (50% of grade B) and on the written reflection on this speech (50% of grade B).

Final exam
The final exam consists of theory questions and questions on text analysis. The exam will focus on all the assigned literature. This is a closed book exam, meaning that students cannot bring along any of the texts or notes on the literature. Please note that, mobile telephones, smart phones, or PDA’s (personal digital assistant) of any cannot be used either.

In-class participation
Active participation is paramount in this course. The course literature has to be prepared by making individual assignments, which will be discussed during class. Students are expected to actively engage in the class discussions.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list


  • Andeweg, Bas, Jaap de Jong & Hans Hoeken (1998). “May I have your attention?”: Exordial Techniques in Informative Oral Presentations. Technical Communication Quarterly 7(3), 271-284. [Available through Blackboard]

  • Crowley, Sharon & Debra Hawee (2012). Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 5th edition. Boston [etc.]: Pearson.

  • Eemeren, Frans van, Rob Grootendorst & Francisca Snoeck Henkemans (2010). Argumentation. Analysis, Evaluation, Presentation. New York [etc.]: Routledge.


  • Eemeren, Frans van, Bart Garssen, Erik C.W. Krabbe, A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans, Bart Verheij, & Jean H.M. Wagemans (2014). Handbook of Argumentation Theory. Dordrecht: Springer, H1 & H2 (pp.1-139). [Available through Blackboard]

  • Kienpointner, Manfred (1997). On the Art of Finding Arguments: What Ancient and Modern Masters of Invention Have to Tell Us About the ‘Ars Inveniendi’. Argumentation 11, 225-236. [Available through Blackboard]


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Drs. R. (Roosmaryn) Pilgram,