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Approaches to Argumentative Discourse



It seems to be characteristic for Western societies that public debate has become highly polarized in the last decade. If one wants to take a critical stance with regard to the various debate positions, it is necessary to possess at least some knowledge of argumentation. In this seminar we will discuss the current state of argumentation theory and study its latest insights. Argumentation theory offers the analytical tools for the identification, analysis and evaluation of argumentative discourse. However, it depends on the particular theoretical approach what these tools amount to and how specific they are. By addressing some central themes within the study of argumentation, we will assess the differences between the most leading theoretical approaches. As a result, you will become a skilled analyst of argumentative discourse in various settings.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students are able to:
1. Describe and recognize the leading theories within argumentation theory;
2. Describe the current methods of analysis within argumentation theory and apply them to concrete instantiations of argumentative
3. Describe and analyze how context (e.g. politics, advertising) affects the characteristics of argumentative discourse;
4. Develop a new perspective on one of the themes that have been addressed during the course;
5. Deliver a verbal and oral presentation;
6. Provide peer feedback and participate in a discussion in a constructive way.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 13x2 = 26

  • Preparation for class (literature, assignments, presentation): 104

  • Preparation of research question: 24

  • Paper and accompanying assignments: 90

  • Peer review assignments regarding paper: 16

Assessment method


Presentation: 20%
Peer review assignments: 20%
Paper: 60%
Completion of weekly assignments.
The weighted average of your grades should be 5.5 or higher.


See assessment.


There is one resit opportunity for the final version of the paper; there is no resit of the presentation and the peer review assignments.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Course materials

  • Assignments

  • Peer review work

Reading list

A list of readings will be provided on blackboard and at the first meeting; please check blackboard for how to prepare for the first meeting.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.

The coordinator of studies is Else van Dijk