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Argumentative and Rhetorical Strategies


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.

Key words:

Topics: Argumentation, fallacies, persuasion, rhetoric, speeches.

Skills: Argumentative and rhetorical analysis, critical thinking, speech delivery.


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 two classical rhetorical practices: politics and law. 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:

  • 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 17.15 till 19.00 hrs.

Week 1: 6 February Principles of rhetoric and argumentation;
Week 2: 13 February Standpoints and arguments;
Week 3: 20 February Main line of arguments;
Week 4: 27 February Speech arrangement;
Week 5: 5 March Speeches;
Week 6: 12 March Ethos & pathos;
Week 7: 26 March Fallacies;
Week 8: 9 April Final exam.


Leiden, Lipsius room 307.

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.

Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Blackboard.

Course load and teaching method:

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

  • Lectures: 8 lectures of 2 hours (16 hours); (attendance is mandatory)

  • Literature: 9,25 hours per week (78 hours);

  • Assignments: 5 assignments of 1,5 hours (7,5 hours);

  • Speech: 20 hours;

  • Exam: 20 hours.

Assessment methods:

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • 20% weekly assignments;

  • 40% oral speech + written reflection;

  • 40% written exam (questions about theory and application questions).

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).


Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard page one weeks prior to the start of the course.

Registration process:

Enrolling in this course is possible from 4 November 2019 up to and including 14 November 2019 23.59 hrs through the Honours Academy. The registration link will be posted on the student website of the Honours Academy.

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


Roosmaryn Pilgram: