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Semester 1

Theories and Techniques of Persuasion (BUST10151)


Business Studies





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students must have at least 4 Business courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses.

Course Summary

Why does language persuade us to act? How do audiences think? What is persuasion? Students taking this course will consider seminal responses to these and related questions. Their overall goal will be to learn - through theories, examples and practice - the stakes involved in becoming competent persuaders.

Course Description

We will study theories and techniques of persuasion in order to develop our own persuasive capacities. This means that we will study persuasion as a craft learned through exemplars and by means of practice. For our theories, we look towards philosophical accounts of rhetoric. For our techniques, we looks towards psychological models. For our practice, we produce copy. We begin with a consideration of rhetorical situations: what they are and how we should negotiate them. This first half of the course brings us into contact with old ideas that remain applicable, as we shall see, to contemporary situations. We pay special attention here to the enduring critique of rhetoric, as developed by Plato, as well as to the alternative representation of rhetoric as a craft that we have inherited from Aristotle. With these foundations set by means of old theories and recent examples, we then proceed, in the second half of the course, towards a consideration of the challenges that define the application of psychological insights to the craft of persuasion. OUTLINE CONTENT: **Part One: Theories of Persuasion** 1. Introduction- The Advantages and Disadvantages of Persuasion Today, 2. Persuasion as Deception- The Endurance of the Platonic Critique I, 3. Persuasion as Manipulation- The Endurance of the Platonic Critique II, 4. Persuasion in Public Life I- Aristotle, with and Against Plato, 5. Persuasion in Public Life II- Machiavelli, with and Against Aristotle. **Part Two: Techniques of Persuasion** 6. Psychoanalytic Persuasion- Affecting the Unconscious, Producing Propaganda, 7. Cognitive Persuasion- Mapping the Decision, Measuring the Process, 8. Communicative Persuasion- Changing the Frame, Flattering the Audience, 9. Behavioural Persuasion- Managing the Platform, Automating the Context, 10. Conclusion- The Advantages and Disadvantages of Persuasion Today II. STUDENT LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Students will be required to undertake a series of assigned listening, watching and reading tasks in advance of each session. Each week will be composed of a one-hour lecture and a one-hour workshop. Within each of the first five workshops, students will work in their teams with a series of practical assignments that will enable them to prepare their video assignment. Formative feedback will be provided within each of these sessions. Within each of the final five workshops, students will work in groups with a series of practical assignments that will enable them to work on their essays. Formative feedback will again be provided within each of these sessions.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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