AP/MODR1770 6.0 A: Techniques of Persuasion

Offered by: MODR


Fall 2019




BLEN (Blended online and classroom)


Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

This is a skills-based course focusing on critical thinking, persuasive writing, and strategic argumentation. Examples are drawn from various forms of persuasion including advertising, propaganda and political argument. Course credit exclusions: AP/MODR 1730 6.00, AP/MODR 1760 6.00. Note: This is an approved LA&PS General Education course: Humanities OR Social Science.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Getting Started with your Blended online and classroom Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to review the Next Steps website.

The Next Steps website explains how to start your fully online (ONLN) & blended (BLEN) course(s) with start up information including computing requirements, course website access instructions and links to course outlines & course websites. Students are also encouraged to review the Student Guide to eLearning at York University.

Moodle course website access starts within the first week of the term. For late enrollees it takes two business days from the time of your enrolment to access the Moodle websites once the semester has started. Course materials begin to be released on the course website during the first week of the semester. Get familiar with Moodle by reviewing the Moodle Student Resources Page.

For enrolment matters and academic related questions, please contact the affiliated LA&PS School/Department. For eLearning support please contact eLearning Services, LA&PS.

Moodle and computing support can be directed to ithelp@yorku.ca or visit the Student Computing website

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Dr. Jason C. Robinson
Office Location:  VC 262
Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 55158
Office Hours:  Tuesdays by appointment only

    Expanded Course Description

This course emphasizes critical reasoning skills. These critical-rational skills are then applied to texts and issues on a variety of topics with the goal of gaining clarity of insight as well as formulating our own “reasoned” positions. We shall be taking an inter- and multi-disciplinary approach that draws on numerous disciplinary insights, theories, methods, and forms of research.

Developing techniques of persuasion is “not” about emotional manipulation, propaganda, simple appeals to tradition or power and authority, or about naïve acceptance (a person showing a lack of judgment) of ideologies (popular ideas about politics, laws, the good life, etc.). Techniques of persuasion are skills related to thinking, writing, and otherwise communicating rationally/logically and critically/reflectively. In this course students will learn about the importance of being persuasive by providing good reasons for thoughts, actions, and beliefs. Being persuasive in a rational manner is of profound practical relevance. As social creatures we want people to listen to us and to believe what we say. This course will help you on both counts.

There are two main parts or themes in this course. It introduces students to: (1) the rules and the application of those rules that govern critical thinking and (2) to controversial debates, i.e., “hot topics” of the day, e.g., political propaganda, legal and social debates on issues such as war, terrorism, animal rights, pornography. This course is designed to encourage student application of critical-rational thinking through interaction with highly debated issues, i.e., to become more persuasive about specific positions.

Techniques of persuasion rely on learning techniques of analysis and reflection. As you no doubt already know, life is full of many difficult choices and questions about how to act and think.

Are you able to effectively navigate your way through them?

Do you have basic critical thinking skills needed to sort good arguments from bad arguments? Many people live life without ever asking themselves why they believe what they believe or how they might justify their actions. Thinking rationally about oneself and the world is not easy and yet it is incredibly important. Thinking clearly and critically—persuasively—does not happen by accident for most of us, it takes time and training. One of our primary goals is to identify and then understand the nature and multiple expressions of reasoning, especially as that reasoning applies to everyday life.

    Required Course Text / Readings
  • Thinking Clearly: A Guide to Critical Reasoning. Jill LeBlanc. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.

ISBN 978-0-393-97218-4


  • This book is available in “used” form through various retailers such as amazon.ca.
  • A “new” copy of this text might be difficult to find because it is “temporarily” out of print.
  • Therefore, we have a course pack (or course kit) at the York bookstore available for this term.
  • The pack contains the complete text.
    • Note: Look for our course code MODR 1770, and my name Robinson as well as Allen, on the cover. “Allen” is merely another instructor also using the same text for a course.
    • If the text is for MODR 1770 has “Robinson” on the cover, then you’ve found the right one.


Textbook Website:

There is an important online learning tool associated with this text (LEMUR).
This program may be used for self-testing http://www.wwnorton.com/college/phil/lemur/

 Backup Link:


  • Contemporary Moral Arguments: Readings in Ethical Issues. Lewis Vaughn. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0199922260
    Use whatever edition is the cheapest! It does not matter which edition.


Textbook Website:

There is an important online Study Guide for this text available at:


For each part of the text, you will find:

  • multiple choice self-quizzes that test your knowledge of each chapter;
  • flashcards that highlight key terms and concepts; and
  • helpful web links that guide further exploration of key issues.
    Weighting of Course
Assignments Weight Due Date
4 Quizzes 50% of final grade
Quiz 1 and Quiz 2 are worth 10% each

Quiz 3 and Quiz 4 are worth 15% each  


See detailed course schedule below.

2 Exams 30% of final grade

(each is worth 15%)


See detailed course schedule below.

Critical Analysis and Research Paper 20% of final grade  See detailed course schedule below.
    Organization of the Course


    Course Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

The ultimate objective of this course is practical—to provide students the opportunity to develop useful tools for reasoning (being persuasive) in any context. To that end, students will be shown important critical reading, writing, thinking, and problem solving skills needed to successfully navigate different knowledge claims. In addition to critical reading, thinking, and writing skills, there will be an emphasis on personal development, including the creation of competencies in fields/areas of research that are currently unfamiliar—thereby encouraging the ability to rationally consider others’ views on major issues as well as to challenge one’s own.

Learning Outcomes

We all use arguments to convince ourselves and others that some view or position is rationally supported and therefore better than the alternatives. However, doing so well requires very specific skills.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. distinguish arguments from non-arguments
  2. identify different argument types including those in qualitative and quantitative research
  3. understand and apply basic logical concepts including those in probabilistic thinking
  4. utilize strategies appropriate to different argument types in order to evaluate arguments
  5. recognize a range of mistakes in reasoning – the “fallacies”
  6. develop and defend your own arguments; and
  7. critically evaluate major (social/legal/ethical/political) problems and dilemmas.
    Relevant Links / Resources