ENGL1037 Persuasion

Instructor: Professor Douglas Kerr, Ms Jessica Ng

Second semester, 2013-14
6 credits
Form of assessment: 100% coursework
3 contact hours/week
Prerequisite: A minimum Level 5 in English Language HKDSE exam, or a C grade in the Use of English AS-level exam, or their equivalents.

This is a course about rhetoric, the art of persuasion, in which students will explore ways language can be used to convey, reinforce or change ideas. In theory and in textual practice we will work together to understand how persuasion works in English in a number of different language domains. The course explores discourse relations in writing and speech, through critical analysis and practice of strategies of persuasion in some or all of the following domains: academic writing; advertising; the courtroom; propaganda; literary representation.



  • theory of persuasion
  • analysis of persuasion
  • production of persuasion

The course introduces students to the theory of rhetoric, helps them to analyse and understand persuasive texts in different modes and genres, and develops their persuasive skills.

There are two classes per week, Monday 12:30 to 2:20 and Thursday 12:30 to 1:20. The second hour of the Monday class will be devoted to workshop group and individual tasks. There will be a course moodle where information and materials will be posted, with a discussion forum to which students are expected to contribute.

The 100% coursework assessment will comprise marks from a written essay or project (35%), workshop work, moodle contribution and occasional quizzes (35%), and an oral presentation (30%).

All students must purchase the ENGL1037 Coursebook from the Library before the beginning of teaching.
You may also find the following useful and interesting.

Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric (4th century BC)
Timothy A. Borchers, Persuasion in the Media Age 2002
Sean Brierley, The Advertising Handbook 2nd edition 2002
Deborah Cameron, Good to talk? Living and working in a communication culture 2000
Robert Cockcroft and Susan M. Cockcroft, Persuading People 1992
William A. Covino, The Elements of Persuasion 1997
Carl Dennis, Poetry as Persuasion 2001
Stanley Fish, “Rhetoric”, Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd edition, Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin eds. 1995
Dick Leith and George Myerson, The Power of Address: Explorations in Rhetoric 1989
Sam Leith, You Talkin’ to Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama 2012
Greg Myers, Adworlds: Brands, Media, Audiences 1999
Walter Nash, Rhetoric 1989
Brian Vickers, In Defence of Rhetoric 1988
Michael Wilkinson, Advocacy and the Litigation Process in Hong Kong 1991


Last updated: 17 July 2013