AP/MODR1770 6.0 H: Techniques of Persuasion

Offered by: MODR


Fall 2019






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.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Alex Manafu
Office Location:  S414A Ross Building
Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33636
Office Hours:  For information about office hours please check the course’s Moodle page or what’s displayed on my office door.

    Expanded Course Description

This is an interdisciplinary course in which we will look at persuasion along both its logical and psychological dimension. Along the logical dimension, you will learn about the standards of good reasoning in everyday life, as well as in science; you will develop a set of skills that will allow you to recognize and make good arguments, recognize and avoid bad arguments, as well as criticize arguments and ideas effectively. Along the psychological dimension, we will look at the underlying factors that influence people’s decisions. Using a range of examples from the world of marketing and advertising, politics, the media, etc., we will investigate the 6 principles that social psychologists have found to govern social influence and persuasion. As part of the coursework you will analyze the persuasion around us and also create persuasion yourself.

    Required Course Text / Readings
  • Influence: Science and Practice. by Robert Cialdini. Publisher: Allyn and Bacon; 5th edition (August 8, 2008). ISBN-10: 0205609996. Available at the University Bookstore.
  • Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills – Canadian Seventh Edition. by: William Hughes; Jonathan Lavery; Broadview Press. ISBN: 9781554811991 / 1554811996. Available at the University Bookstore.
  • A selection of materials which will be made available in PDF on Moodle.
    Weighting of Course

6 Wiki entries: 12%

4 Homework assignments: 32%

1 Final project: 16%

2 End of term Moodle exams: 30%

Participation: 10%


Penalty points:

1% off if you email me from an email address that’s different from the one you have on Moodle.

1% off for every email that does not respect email etiquette.

1% off if you ask me a question whose answer was given by me in class, or is demonstrably in the course outline or on Moodle.

NOTE: The grading scheme above will be respected strictly. I do not typically go back and revise the grades of students, nor do I allow students to do extra work to boost their marks. The main reason for this is my commitment to treat all students equally, and the fact that I like to stick to the grading scheme above.

    Organization of the Course

Classes will include a combination of lecturing, class discussion, work at the board, as well as interactive problem-solving.

    Course Learning Objectives

This is a practical course which aims to help you build your critical thinking and persuasive argumentation skills. By the end of this course, you will:

  • Be able to formulate and evaluate arguments, as well as to refute them.
  • Be able to analyze persuasion productions around us using the principles that govern the psychological dimension of persuasion (reciprocation, social proof, commitment and consistency, liking, authority, scarcity).
  • Recognize fallacies in reasoning.
  • Be able to distinguish between good science and questionable science or pseudoscience.
  • Become a better arguer and persuader.
    Additional Information / Notes

Wiki entries

At the end of each set of lectures addressing one psychological persuasion principle (there will be 6 such sets), you will write an individual wiki entry about a persuasion production you have found which exemplifies that principle. You may write about examples of persuasion that you find in everyday life: at a store, in the mall, in a YouTube video, a web article, a picture, a poster, an advertisement, a podcast, a radio show, a passage from a book, a newspaper/online magazine article, etc. Word count: 250-500 words. Each entry is worth 2%, which will be awarded automatically (no grading) to all and only to those entries that are reasonably well prepared.


Homework assignments

There will be 4 homework assignments throughout the year, divided equally between semesters. The feedback on these assignments will be offered through Moodle, and the assignments’ solutions will be discussed in the subsequent class.


End of term Moodle exams

Each term there will be one exam, to be written during the standard examination period. The exams will be administered through Moodle, and students will need a working computing device and access to Moodle to take them.


Final project

At the end of the course there will be a project under the form of a creative assignment. In this assignment you will have to create a written document by which you will try to convince the general public/segment of the general public/representatives of an institution to either adopt or reject a certain standpoint with regard to a matter you care about. Word limit: around 2000 words.



The grade for participation (10%) will be broken down into Attendance (5%) and Engagement (5%). Attendance will be taken randomly throughout the year, so to get the best grades for attendance students will have to make an effort to attend every class. There will be 10 attendances taken throughout the year, each worth 0.5% (totaling 5%). Engagement involves sharing personal viewpoints, answering to instructor’s questions, bringing up questions, problems, exercises, demanding clarification for concepts, suggesting alternate solutions, making connections, making observations, and in general being active in class.


Late assignments

The penalty for late wiki entries and final project is 10% of the value of the assignment/day. Due to the fact that the answers to the homework assignments will be revealed on Moodle and feedback will be provided in the following class, no late homework assignments will be permitted.



If you get sick or encounter other incapacitating problem before a deadline and are intending to ask for an extension please email me before the deadline explaining your situation and attaching the relevant documentation. No extensions will be provided post deadline.


Missed exams

If you know ahead of time that you will not be able to write your exam, you are required to email me before the exam takes place explaining your situation and attaching the relevant documentation. If you have missed your exam due to unforeseen circumstances you have to email me explaining your situation and attaching the relevant documentation. Make-up exams will be organized only in special circumstances, if there are serious and sufficient reasons for doing so.



In this course we will use Moodle and other online tools for learning. Students are expected to have with them in class a functional computing device: laptop (ideal), tablet (OK), smartphone (might work too). In addition to any other form of submission that might be requested, all coursework must be submitted through Moodle.


Student questions

Students are encouraged to feel free to interrupt and ask questions before/during/after the lectures, and also during office hours, which can also be requested by appointment.


Office hours

The office hours are displayed at the top of this document. Students are encouraged to come to the office hours and ask questions about the concepts taught in the course, homework assignments, or anything they deem necessary. To accommodate students’ schedule, the office hours can also be set by appointment.

    Relevant Links / Resources