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Skills Lab II: Public Speech and How to Argue




Admissions requirements



How can you defend your standpoint in a discussion convincingly? How can you give an effective presentation? And how can you critically inquire the standpoints of others about, for instance, policy issues? In this course we will focus on both the theory and practice of debate and public speech. In the theoretical part of the course, we will discuss a set of systematic strategies which will increase your abilities to present your opinions in a convincing way, as well as your abilities to find relevant arguments to support and defend them. In the practical part of the course these theoretical insights will be put into practice. You will improve your own skills in debating and public speech. In addition, we will analyze several (political) debates and debating strategies used in these debates, and we will address the question to what extent an ‘effective presentation’ is cultural dependent.

Week 1: General introduction & getting acquainted with the practice of debating and public speech
Week 2: Building a case: stock issues and debating strategies
Week 3: Use of evidence; refutation
Week 4: Practicing debate and public speech
Week 5: Strategic use of anecdotes, exemplars and statistics
Week 6: Framing; cultural differences; subliminal messaging
Week 7: Practicing debate and presentation skills
Week 8: Reading week (no classroom hours)

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of strategies that increase your ability to present your opinions in a convincing way

  • Increase of your debating and presentation skills


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

This course requires active involvement of students. Students are obliged to prepare (1) critical questions about the assigned literature that serve as input for plenary discussions, (2) short presentations, and (3) reflections on their own presentations and debating performances. Naturally, a considerable amount of the available time in class will be spent on the practice of actual debate and presentations. The instructor will give all students feedback with regard to their performance.


  • In-class participation; critical questions about the assigned literature (web postings), 10%, ongoing weeks 1-7;

  • Debating and presentations, 30%. weeks 1,5, and 7;

  • Take-home exam (1500 words), 30%, week 6;

  • Final written exam, 30%, week 8


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

  • Freeley, A.J. & D.L.Steinberg (2014): Argumentation and Debate. Critical thinking for reasoned decision making. Thirteenth edition. Australia etc.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Chapters 6-8; 11-14.

  • Haaften, Ton van (2009): ‘Parliamentary Debate and Political Culture: The Dutch Case’. In: T. van Haaften, H. Jansen, J. de Jong, W. Koetsenruijter (eds.): Bending Opinion, Essays on persuasion in the public domain. Leiden: Leiden University Press, 349-368. THIS CHAPTER WILL BE AVAILABLE VIA BLACKBOARD.

  • Leeuwen, Maarten van (2012): ‘Rhetorical Effects of Grammar’. In: Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines, 5(2), 88-101. THIS ARTICLE WILL BE AVAILABLE VIA BLACKBOARD.

Other course readings will be announced via 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


Dr. Maarten van Leeuwen,