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Skills Lab II: Public Speech and How to Argue




Admissions requirements

This course does not have any participation restrictions; it is open to all LUC Students and students from the Honours College.


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, you will learn 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.

Course objectives

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

  • Increase of your debating and presentation skills;

  • Increased ability to identify and analyze argumentative and rhetorical strategies used in public discourse.


(privisional timetable)

This class will take place on the following Tuesdays from 3 till 4.50 p.m.

April 4, 11, 18, 25
May 2, 9 16, 23

This class will take place on the following Fridays from 1 till 2.50 p.m.

April 7, 21, 28
May 12, 19, 26


LUC, the Hague.

Anna van Buerenplein, Room 2.14

Mode of instruction

This course requires active involvement of students. Students are obliged to prepare (1) weekly web postings 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 (2x) – 30% – Weeks 4, 8

  • 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

The literature for each class will be placed on Blackboard. Students are required to print the compulsory literature themselves, and bring to class. In the case that material cannot appear on Blackboard due to copyright restrictions, a web link will be placed. Again, students will then need to retrieve and print the compulsory literature themselves.


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

Enrolling in this course is possible for Honours College students and non-honours students from Monday November 7th until Sunday November 20th through the Honours Academy, via this link


Dr. Maarten van Leeuwen


Weekly Overview

  • Week 1: Introduction & getting acquainted with the practice of debate

  • Week 2: Building a case: stock issues and debating strategies

  • Week 3: Style / Strategic use of anecdotes

  • Week 4: Practicing debate and public speech

  • Week 5: How to deal with personal attacks, appeal to authority and misrepresentation of standpoints?

  • Week 6: Framing, Issue ownership & Subliminal messaging

  • Week 7: Debate, institutional norms and cultural differences / reading session

  • Week 8: Practicing debate and public speech / Final exam

Preparation for first session: See Blackboard