Argumentation and Debate Course Syllabus

Department: Communication        Title of Class: Argumentation and Debate

Catalog Description:  For students interested in improving communicative and public speaking skills. Covers speech research, preparation, outlining, and delivery.  Provides students with practical experience and evaluation. Includes lecture, speaking before the class, critiques, evaluation, and watching and listening to others speak.

Expanded Course Description:  The special skills of critical thinking and reasoning are an important part of daily reactions to what you hear, think, and read. This course is designed to present you with a set of systematic strategies which should increase your abilities to react critically and to form arguments. Arguers seek to gain the acceptance of others for their point of view. This class will help you to learn the art of asking the "right" questions, including right questions about your own thoughts. You will learn the art of mustering reasons, of obtaining useful data, of pinpointing the real issue and noticing when an arguer evades it, and of offering critical opinions based on those evaluations. Critical thinking isn't just an art; it is a disposition and a commitment. This course is especially appropriate for students who are interested in careers in law, public service, education, the ministry, or any position requiring leadership and advocacy activities. While the course is not designed to teach you formal debating skills, your informal strategies for advocating and arguing positions will be honed as we examine reasoning in speeches, conversations, essays, and group deliberations.

Class Location: PE 102

Class Times: 8:30 to 9:45 AM TR

Instructor’s Name:  James Hunter

Phone:  863 7739
Home: 756 4844
Cell:     404 0644

Office Hours: 8-4 M & F. Office: FS-120.  

E-mail: or 

            1.         Description and Objectives: Examines the study of argument. Emphasizes reasoning, evidence, analysis, evaluation, audience analysis, and practice.. Our objectives for this course for you are:

            a.         to understand the logical fallacies of argumentation.

            b.         to be able to construct a coherent, logical, sequenced argument, free from fallacy, supported by documentation and evidence.

            c.         to become a more careful and critical thinker and communicator, both as a speaker and as a listener.

            d.         to understand and practice ethical communication.

            e.         to be able to analyze and critique arguments as they are presented, looking for flaws in logic, reasoning or evidence.

 2.    Textbooks and Required Materials:  (A) Arguments and Arguing: The Products and Process of Human Decision Making, Second Edition,  Thomas A. Hollihan and Kevin T. Baaske; ISBN: 1-57766-362-4, Publisher: Waveland PressHow to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday

(B) How to Argue and Win Every Time: At Home, at Work, in Court, Everywhere, Every Day By Gerry Spence, Published by Macmillan, 1996, ISBN 0312144776, 9780312144777


             3.   Major Activities and Course Goals: (See the Activities page) in order of importance rather than by chronology.

                        Activity1: Construct a viable, logical cases with appropriate supporting materials.  

                        Activity 2: Construct a comprehensive brief as an extension of the case, including possible negative attacks
                        and counter arguments.  

                         Activity 3: Attend a either a College Debate Tournament as a competitor or spectator, a High School Debate Tournament as a judge or spectator, documenting the experience with flows and or copies of the ballots.    

                          Activity 4: Participate in in-class debates.

            4.   Attendance: Attendance counts!  This course is built upon discourse and the analysis thereof.  Attendance and participation are essential in this course because it blends theory and practice. Class discussions are an important aspect of this course, especially in an environment of mutual respect. You are likely to enhance your learning and enjoyment by both speaking up and listening carefully to the ideas of your classmates. Attendance is vital, 10% of the grade will be tied to in class debates and class participation. 

           5.   Students with Disabilities:  If you have any disability which may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Accessibility Services Department (room BU-145). Academic Accommodations are granted for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the Accessibility Services Department.

            6.   Ethics: Each student is expected to maintain academic ethics and honest in all its forms, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism as defined hereafter:

    1. Cheating is the act of using or attempting to use or providing others with unauthorized information, materials or study aids in academic work. Cheating includes, but is not limited to, passing examination answers to or taking examinations for someone else, or preparing or copying others academic work.
    2. Plagiarism is the act of appropriating any other person's or group's ideas or work (written, computerized, artistic, etc.) or portions thereof and passing them off as the product of one's own work in any academic exercise or study.

            7.   Examinations: There will be no written examinations during the course.  

          8.    Extra Credit: Participate/view outside of class debates.

            9.    Grading Final grades will be based on the following scale:

          A     =    930–1,000
          A–   =    900–929
          B+   =    870–899
          B     =    830–869
          B–   =    800–829
          C+   =    770–799
          C     =    730–769
          C–   =    700–729
          D+   =    670–699
          D     =    630–669
          D-   =    600-629
          F     =     0–599


Semester points

Evidence Brief


Online Quiz


Participate in 2 CX Debates in class 


Participate in 2 LD Debates in class


Participate in 2 Parli Debates in class


HS/College Debates (outside class)


Comprehensive Brief


Final Written Case






    9.      Class Schedule: (follow this link).

    10.    Links of Interest:

Parliamentary Site: 

Also Parliamentary:

Streaming Video of Parli: 

Influencing Through Argument:

Argumentation Home:

Evaluating Web sites:

Debaters Forum:

NCPA Debate Central: 

Univ. of Vermont Debate Central:

HS LD Ballot       NCFL (HS) LD Ballot      AFA Team (Policy) Ballot

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