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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Business Studies

Undergraduate Course: Theories and Techniques of Persuasion (BUST10151)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhat is persuasion and how can we persuade others to both do and believe as we'd like them to? Students taking this course will consider answers which the Ancient Greek philosophers gave to these questions before considering, in turn, a series of claims made by economists, political scientists, literary theorists and, of course, marketing analysts and practitioners, to unpack what complex operations are really involved. The goal here isn't just to learn a bit more about what persuasion is - although we will certainly do that. The goal is also to learn, through practice, how we might become competent persuaders ourselves.
Course description The principal concern is to teach rhetoric, as originally described by the Ancient Greeks, as a craft, rather than as a theory. Students will therefore consider how rhetoric has been thought about and practised in order to develop their own capacities of persuasion. The principal message throughout is that while good marketing practice is commensurate with skilful rhetorical practice, the models which contemporary marketing practice draws upon also owe a lot to the human sciences: economics and social-psychology in particular.

We begin by tracing contemporary concerns about rhetoric that it is dishonest, misleading, fraudulent, etc. - right back to Platonic philosophy, particularly to Protagoras, Gorgias and Republic and, to a lesser extent, Theatetus, Statesman, Sophist and Symposium. This allows us to bring the nature of Aristotle's Rhetoric into sharper relief, particularly insofar as it, alongside Nicomachean Ethics, provides a distinction between philosophy, opinion, craft, intuition and science which continues to bear upon contemporary rhetorical theory and practice. Once this groundwork is set we then consider different rhetorical frameworks in theory and practice, focusing in particular on which techniques are said to be more effective and why.

There is an abundance of options here and so I've suggested five relatively distinct and separate traditions which each have something compelling to say about rhetoric. I reserve the final 2 sessions for synthetic remarks: in the first of these, the penultimate lecture, I draw upon the materials considered in order to specify what we know rhetoric is not. In the final session I answer the opposite side of this set up, namely, what can we say persuasion is, now that we've listened to some of the voices worth listening to.

Outline Content
1. Introduction and Overview
2. Imitation and/or Flattery NB Plato and the Pre-Socratic Sophists
3. Believing, Feeling and Showing NB Aristotle, Cicero and Quintillian
4. Apparitions and Reality NB Machiavelli, Hobbes and Q. Skinner
5. The Non-Political Virtues of Commerce NB Hume, Smith, Campbell, Hirschman and McCloskey
6. Public Relations and Propaganda NB Bernays and Chomsky
7. Irony, Sincerity and Agonotology NB Hayek, Mirowski and Strauss
8. Communication and Behaviorism NB B.F. Skinner, Simon & March, Kahnemann & Tversky, Thaler & Sunstein
9. Coercion, Deception and Incentive Provision, i.e., What Rhetoric is Not NB Burke, Booth, McLuhan and Latour
10. Summary and Conclusion

Student Learning Experience
Each week the lecture will overview a series of ideas, in the first hour, and then run a practical workshop, with examples taken from marketing practice, in the second hour.
Emphasis of the second half of each session will alternate between preparatory remarks for the essay and diary components of the assignment and preparatory remarks for the practical group component of the assignment,
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Entry to 3rd year Business Honours
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have at least 4 Business courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 2, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 75 %, Practical Exam 25 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Individual essay (2500 word) 50%
Individual report (1000 words) 25%. A weekly diary of observations upon past and present marketing communications campaigns and then presented in the form of a report
Group presentation (10 Minutes) and a subsequent defence (10 Minutes) 25% (25% of the group presentation mark will be adjusted from Peer assessment)
Feedback With the exception of the introduction session, each week will connect the in-class exercises to each of the assessments, on an alternating basis.
The live presentation and defence component of the assessment will commence during the second half of the semester.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify and describe the components of both effective and ineffective technologies of persuasion
  2. Assess the rhetorical effectiveness of existing marketing communications campaigns through a series of conceptual frameworks
  3. Apply frameworks through which persuasion oriented campaigns can be assessed and managed, both qualitatively and quantitatively
  4. Produce persuasively attuned copy
  5. Delineate acts of persuasion from description, deception and other related speech acts, by means of example
Reading List
A reading pack/list of core texts will be prepared for each lecture in accordance with the authors and themes named in the above course outline. This will be comprised of primary texts, academic articles, trade publications and practical examples.

Students will not be expected to read a core text in addition to these but supplementary general texts such as the following will be recommended:
Michael J MacDonald (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Rhetorical Studies
George Kennedy A New History of Classical Rhetoric
Sam Leith You Talkinż to Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
Richard Toye Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction
Jason Stanley How Propaganda Works
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Verbal communication and presentation
- Written communication
- Analytical thinking
- Interpersonal communication
- Effective team-working
- Cross-cultural communication
- Knowledge integration and application
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Stephen Dunne
Tel: (0131 6)50 8340
Course secretaryMs Chrysanthi Manidou
Tel: (0131 6) 50 3826
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