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Unit information: How to Win a Political Argument in 2021/22

Unit name How to Win a Political Argument
Unit code POLI30020
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jonathan Floyd
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

If Socrates and the Sophists had ever found grounds for compromise, almost two and a half thousand years ago, then it would look something this: A unit concerned with making you better at persuasive political argument, whilst also inviting reflections on how much the ‘truth’ matters in such things. Each week we will consider a different set of political arguments by prominent public figures (journalists, politicians, etc.) on a particular issue, such as war, discrimination, taxes, environmental degradation, migration, surveillance, and more besides. Each week we will analyse these arguments and see if general lessons can be learnt regarding the art of public political persuasion. Each week we will construct our own arguments during workshop-based seminars. Each week, as a result, we will enhance your ability to construct and deliver political arguments, in both written and verbal form, including your ability to discern when, if ever, it makes good rhetorical sense to begin four sentences in a row with the same phrase, e.g. ‘each week’.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

  • Produce sophisticated written political arguments
  • Produce sophisticated verbal political arguments
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the relevance of truth to persuasive political argument
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the relevance of political argument to political practice

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

4,000 word essay (100%)

Assessment tests all learning outcomes


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLI30020).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.