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Argumentative and Rhetorical Strategies


Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes.

Topics: Argumentation, Fallacies, Rhetorical strategies.
Disciplines: Argumentation theory, (Informal) logic, Persuasion, Rhetoric.
Skills: Skills that we will develop:

  • Argumentative and rhetorical analysis;

  • Critical thinking;

  • Public speaking;

  • Speech writing.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


How do you get persuaded? Are you capable of distinguishing between good and bad arguments? Do you recognize rhetorical tricks? In this course we will teach you how to resist verbal manipulation. Starting with analysing argumentative discourse, you will learn how to find the implicit elements of an argument, to make a schematic overview of the different arguments in a line of reasoning, and how to recognize fallacies.

After that, we will focus on classical rhetorical practices. You will learn that speakers often do not only use argumentation for persuading their audience, but also ethos and pathos, as well as means of style and presentation. If you are capable of seeing through these means, you are capable of passing a well-considered judgment of the tenability of an opinion.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • have gained knowledge of basic argumentative concepts;

  • have gained knowledge of basic rhetorical concepts;

  • be able to identify and analyse the argumentative and rhetorical aspects of a text;

  • be able to provide a basic assessment of the use of these aspects;

  • be able to compose and deliver a persuasive speech.

Programme and timetable:

Thursdays from 17.30 till 19.30.

Session 1: October 28
Principles of rhetoric and argumentation

Session 2: November 4
Standpoints and arguments

Session 3: November 11
Main line of arguments

Session 4: November 18
Speech arrangement (guest lecture by speech writer)

Session 5: November 25

Session 6: December 2
Ethos & pathos

Session 7: December 9
Fallacies (guest lecture by researcher)

Session 8: December 16
Final exam or paper

Leiden, Old Observatory, room C005

Reading list:

  • Crowley, Sharon & Debra Hawhee (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.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Attending seminars: 8 x 2 hours (16 hours) (participation is mandatory)

  • Literature reading: 8 x 9,25 hours (76 hours)

  • Assignments: 5 x 1,5 hours (7,5 hours)

  • Speech: 20 hours

  • Exam: 20 hours

Assessment methods:

  • 20% Weekly assignments

  • 40% Oral speech + written reflection

  • 40% Final exam or paper

It is not required to successfully complete all partial exams in order to pass this course. Students are allowed to compensate a ‘fail’ (grades up to and including 5.0).

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Registration process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 16 August 2021 up to and including Thursday 2 September 2021 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.

Francisca Jungslager
Department of Dutch Discourse Studies, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics