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Elective: Argumentation and The Power of Words

Vak
2016-2017

Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

How do successful leaders defend their standpoint in a discussion? And how do politicians make strategic use of language to sell their policies? Researchers from various linguistic disciplines have found evidence that even the slightest difference in the formulation of an argument or standpoint can evoke a different effect in the reader/listener. Speakers can ‘construe’ or ‘frame’ the same phenomenon in different ways (is a glass half full or half empty?), and these choices have rhetorical consequences: it makes an argumentative difference whether people who oppose a political leader are characterized as freedom fighters or as rebels, or whether the European Union is characterized as a family or as a bottomless pit.
In this course we will investigate the strategic presentation of arguments and the argumentative-rhetorical consequences of linguistic choices by studying insights from (critical) discourse analysis, stylistics, modern persuasion research and argumentation theory. You will for instance learn about the argumentative function of metaphor, framing, techniques to evoke applause, promotional language, etc. In each seminar, a considerable amount of time will be spend on putting the insights into practice by applying them to actual texts (e.g. political speeches and debates).

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.
Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 (2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours)

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature and completing weekly assignments: 120 (10 hours per week)

  • Preparation for presentations: 16 hours

  • Writing the final research essay (including reading / research): 120 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

  • In-class participation (10%)

  • Weekly web postings (2A4) (30%)

  • Final research essay (5000 words) (60%)

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

To pass the course, students must score a minimum weighted average of 5.5 for the final grade. The minimum grade for the final essay to pass the course is a 5.0.

Resit

Resit: Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Details will be circulated on Blackboard.
For the final research essay, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable

Contact

Dr. M. van Leeuwen

Remarks

The deadline for submission of the final essay is 9 June 2017.

Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar, elective year 3, and Practising Internatonal Studies.