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Skills Lab II: Public Speech and How to Argue


This course is an Honours Class and therefore only available for students of an honours college

Enrolling in this course is possible until the 15th of November, using the link at ‘registration’ during this period.


How can you defend your standpoint in a discussion convincingly? How can you give an effective presentation? And how can you critically inquire the standpoints of others about, for instance, policy issues? In this course we will focus on both the theory and practice of debate and public speech.

In this course we will focus on both the theory and application of debate and public speech. In the theoretical part of the course, we will discuss a set of systematic strategies which will increase your abilities to present your opinions in a convincing way, as well as your abilities to find relevant arguments to support and defend them.

In the practical part of the course these theoretical insights will be put into practice. You will improve your own skills in debating and public speech. In addition, we will analyze several (political) debates and debating strategies used in these debates and we will address the question to what extent an ‘effective presentation’ is cultural dependent.


This is an interactive course: classroom discussion will be an essential part of it. Students are expected to upload discussion points about the assigned literature before every lesson (specific deadlines will be announced on blackboard). Theoretical matters will be discussed on the basis of these questions. In addition to this, the theory will be put into practice by training skills in debating and presenting. Students are expected to give brief presentations during the lessons, and to work both individually and in small groups.

There are two classes per week. The topics are as follows:

  • Week 1: Getting acquainted with the practice of debate / Stating and analysing a controversy

  • Week 2: Building a case: stock issues and debating strategies

  • Week 3: Use of evidence; refutation

  • Week 4: Practising debate and public speech

  • Week 5: Strategic use of anecdotes, exemplars and statistics

  • Week 6: Framing; cultural differences; subliminal messaging

  • Week 7: Practising debate and public speech

  • Week 8: Reading session / final exam


Tuesdays and Fridays: 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 April, 3, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 May, 3 June
Tuesdays 15:00 – 16:50 hrs, Fridays 13:00 – 14:50 hrs.


Leiden University College (LUC), Anna van Buerenplein 301, The Hague (next to The Hague CS)

Assessment method

In-class participation (10%), debating & presentation (30%), take-home examen (1500 words) (30%), final written exam (30%)

Maximum number of students

10 (& 10 from LUC)


Enrolling in this course is possible until 15 November via this link .


Dr. Maarten van Leeuwen