AP/MODR1770 6.0 J: 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


Office:                        S401A Ross

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33624

Office Hours:           By Appointment Only: TBA at 647 967 1930


    Expanded Course Description

The purpose of this course is to teach critical reasoning skills that are applicable and invaluable to your academic studies, professional career and your life in general.  The goal is to develop a rational and critical viewpoint that can be applied in general to analyze concepts, statements, arguments and theories. This aim is achieved by examining modes of reasoning drawn from the area of rhetorics, argumentation, language and the social sciences.We will cover a diverse range of Ethical Theories such as Kantian Deontological Ethics, Utilitarianism, Rights bases Ethics and Virtue Ethics. In the third section of the course, These moral theories will be applied in a multi - disciplinary manner from disciplines such as The Social Science, Sociology, Feminism, Humanities, Law and Education.

The course will coach students how to develop critical skills in how to read or listen to other ideas and perspectives with an engaged mind, think critically about those ideas, develop cogent arguments and how to verbalize those ideas clearly and concisely, orally and in writing.

The course will be divided into three sections.  The first section of the course is devoted to learning analytical techniques. The use and misuse of language will be examined.

Conceptual, factual and evaluative issues will be distinguished.  The basic forms of reasoning, their uses and limits will be analyzed.  Fallacies that are frequently found in ordinary discussion, academic texts, mass media, advertising, etc. will be carefully studied.   The avoidance of these fallacies and learning the analysis of arguments and fallacies will be a major concern in the first third of the course.

The second section of the course will concentrate on the techniques of conceptual analysis. The aim in the second third of the course is to master a step by step set of techniques for working out the meanings of unclear concepts and questions.  For example, we may work on questions of concept like: “Is Religion compatible with Evolution?”; “Does Morality apply to Humans outside Social Conventions?” and “Is Democracy a Universal Value?”  The techniques teach you to describe the way concepts work in concrete cases and to analyze their abstract characteristics and uses.

In the final section of the course we apply these skills to the analysis of texts.  We will put into practice the techniques learned in the first section on argument and in the second section on concept analysis.  Moreover:  in the third section of the course, we apply these skills to the analysis of texts.  We will put into practice the techniques learned in the first section on argument and in the second section on concept analysis. As this course take a Multi – Disciplinary approach to current Moral issues in mass media, advertisements, and thorny issues such as Euthanasia, Abortion, Pornography, Same Sex marriage and Religious Pluralism. This part of the course will apply the skills of argumentation and concept analysis on a number of passages and articles from the Social Science, Sociology, the Humanities (Religious and Literary, and Philosophical texts.)

    Required Course Text / Readings

(1)        Engel, S. Morris.  With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies.  Sixth Edition.  New York: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2000.

(2)        Chris MacDonald and Lewis Vaughn. The Power of Critical Thinking. Fifth Canadian Edition. Oxford University Press 2020.

    Weighting of Course

Fallacy Test: 25%  

Question of Concept Analysis and Essay: 25%

Article Analysis and Essay: 20%

Passage Analysis (Final in class test,) 20%

Homework and in IN- Class Group Presentations =10%

Please note: 5% will be deducted from total marks if a student fails to show up for a presentation.

See “Course Policies” for details

Home work will be posted weekly on Moodle, the homework is graded by virtue of completion.  We will discuss the correct answers in class and your marks will be posted on the Moodle course site.


    Organization of the Course

(1) How to reason correctly by distinguishing valid and invalid arguments, (Deductive,) to distinguish strong and weak arguments, (Inductive.)

 (2) How to identify fallacies or errors in reasoning committed in everyday discourse.

(3) How to use concepts properly, to distinguish conceptual claims from empirical and normative claims. To separate empirical facts from conceptual meanings and analyzing conceptual questions.

(4) How to apply critical skills to passages and articles that committed errors in reasoning, vague and ambiguous expressions and to diagnose assumptions that underpins concepts and statements. These skills will be applied to passages/articles concerning issues in Social Science,

Humanities, Philosophy, Political Science and Religion.

    Course Learning Objectives
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active reading; deconstructing others’ ideas; reading between the lines
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Critically evaluating what we hear and read; rational decision –making; presenting strong arguments; being aware of cognitive and illegitimate biases (self-bias and others’ bias.)
  • Awareness of Persuasion Techniques
  • Recognizing manipulative persuasion; developing persuasive tactics, ethically.
  • Personal Development discourse
  • hone the disposition of a competent layperson (the abiliy to engage in civil discourse
  • even if one isn’t an “expert on the topic; clarity and confidence when presenting views.
  • Writing Skills
  • Improve general writing skills (grammar, writing style, thesis development, etc.); essay organization; writing persuasively; improving self-editing techniques.
    Additional Information / Notes


  • If a student forgets to sign the attendance sheet they will be considered absent.
  • If a student is 15 or more minutes late for tutorial without an acceptable excuse then they will not be permitted to sign the attendance sheet and will be marked as absent.
  • Unless weather is a factor, a difficult commute is not an acceptable excuse for being late. If you know your commute is lengthy and dependent on traffic, leave earlier.
  • 1 participation mark (1 of a possible 10) will be deducted for each missed lecture.
  • The only absences which will be excused are those for which the student provides a medical excuse. Working overtime, business meetings, job interviews or job training, attendance at conferences, real estate closings, convocations, picking family or friends up at the airport, and other extra-curricular commitments are not excusable absences.  These sort of conflicts require you to prioritize your commitments & make choices.  The only exception is if a tragedy or calamity occurs which effects you directly.  In the event of a tragedy, please speak to me privately in class or contact me by email.
  • Even if your absence is excused you are responsible for the homework due the next class (but not the class your absence is excused for)
  • Students are expected to be able and willing to present their PRESENTATION WORK in any given class. If a student is scheduled to present but arrives to class unprepared, the instructor reserves the right to penalize unprepared students.


  • Do not expect me to answer your email in less than 2 days or 48 hours.
  • Do not expect me to answer email on weekends.
  • I will not answer or reply to email which is anonymous or which does not indicate the course title or number in the subject heading.
  • I will not answer questions by email when the information is on the course syllabus or on the website.
  • No essays will be accepted by email.
  • Grades won’t be sent over email so please don’t ask.


  • Powerpoint slides will be posted on the course website after the lecture in which they were delivered.
  • Powerpoint slides should not be relied upon for the delivery of the course material – this is not an internet course, class attendance is crucial for understanding the course material.
  • Not all lectures will be accompanied by powerpoint slides. Students should not expect any material presented on the chalkboard (or whiteboard) to be posted on the website.


Succeeding in this course requires your full attention so it is recommended that you turn off your cell-phone when you arrive.  Cellphones should not be used for texting, emailing, messaging, etc… during the lecture or student presentations.  Likewise, laptops should be used for note-taking only.  There should be no instant messaging, emailing, internet surfing or other social networking during class.  If you multi-task you are likely to miss important information or confuse assignment instructions.  Further, what is on your screen is visible to the students around you and may distract them.

Message Concerning Students with Special Needs:

The Course Instructor is committed to maximizing the potential for academic achievement at York and to guaranteeing the services and accommodations for persons with special needs.  It is vitally important that students request any specific accommodations and/or services they require, and inform the course instructor before the first day of class.  This will help avoid any potential conflicts or misunderstandings that may be encountered during the academic year.


Plagiarism and other misappropriation of the work of another will not be tolerated in this course.  Plagiarism is the representation of another person's ideas or writing as one's own. The most obvious form of this kind of dishonesty is the presentation of all or part of another person's published work as something one has written. However, paraphrasing another's writing without proper acknowledgement may also be considered plagiarism. It is also a violation of academic honesty to represent another's artistic or technical work or creation as one's own. Just as there are standards to which one must adhere in the preparation and publication of written works, there are standards to which one must adhere in the creation and presentation of music, drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic and technical works. In different forms, these constitute a theft of someone else's work. This is not to say that students should not use the work of others with the proper acknowledgement.  It is also a violation of academic honesty to forge another student’s signature on an attendance sheet.  Please see the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty at http://www.yorku.ca/policies/senate.


Other important information for students regarding the Ethics Review process, Access/Disability, Academic Honesty/Integrity, Student Conduct, and Religious Observance Days is available on the CCAS webpage (see Reports, Initiatives, Documents):- http://www.yorku.ca/secretariat/senate_cte_main_pages/ccas.htm

    Relevant Links / Resources