74775 - English Language (12 Cfu)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students are expected to acquire both active and passive ability to communicate in English, to be able to read, take notes and take part in discussions in English, to be able to understand and comment upon specialised discourse types of English, namely political texts and media texts which comment upon politics.

Course contents

The course aims at improving the students’ awareness of persuasion as a complex and pervasive phenomenon in strategic communication. Particular attention will be paid to political discourse as a case of primary evidence. Discourse analysis expertise will be fostered through the identification of linguistic/cognitive as well as pragmatic/contextual features in the text. In addition to developing the students’ capability of reading special purposes texts in English, the course may also indirectly favour their persuasion and oral communication skills in English.

The exam consists of two parts:

  • a) Intermediate test of grammar and general language skills. The coursework (40 hours) is aimed at improving the fluency and correctness of students' language production and their understanding of spoken and written English.
  • b) content (or monographic course, based on a set text and corresponding to 30 hours). The lessons, based on authentic texts, additionally to strengthening the student’s linguistic competence, with particular attention to oral skills, request the student to acquire a critical attitude with respect to the political text. (Non-attenders must prepare the textbook “Persuasion in Politics” (2nd edition) Partington & Taylor).

The monographic course starts from a brief recap of the concept of ‘persuasion’ in communication (everyday vs. strategic) to introduce political discourse in a genre perspective. Persuasion will be articulated according to its ‘sustainability’ and with respect to the notion of power. An analytical framework will be offered to evaluate persuasion in text on three levels – 1) contextual, 2) textual and 3) cognitive. In correspondence with each level a number of analytical tools will be offered, such as, for instance: genre and context (cf. level 1), evaluation, ideology, strategic narratives (cf. level 2) and finally metaphor and emotion (cf. level 3). Some attention will be paid to the notion of conceptual metaphor, as strictly connected to persuasion, and to how crucial it can be for conveying emotion, as well as for constructing narratives in long-term discoursal strategies.

After this theoretical introduction, the course will offer an overview of relevant genres of political rhetoric, making a distinction between conflict vs. inclusive rhetoric and concentrates on the critical analysis of a chosen set of texts. This may also allow the students to think on their own positioning as political readers/listeners/actors within a given context. Particular attention will be paid to the language of leaders (i.e. contemporary American vs. British presidential speeches), focusing on genre features, rhetorical style, argumentative structure, evaluation, conceptual frames and dominant metaphors.


For course attenders, the study material will be communicated during the lessons.
Theoretical references can be found in:

Federica Ferrari (in press). Metaphor and Persuasion in Strategic Communication. New York: Routledge.

Federica Ferrari (2013). Non solo metafore. (De)costruzione della strategia persuasiva di G. W. Bush Jr. Padova: Libreriauniversitaria.it.

For non-attenders of the Monographic course:

the textbook is "The Language of Persuasion in Politics", Partington & Taylor, Routledge.

Teaching methods

For students who attend classes

  • grammar: students must be present at 80% of lessons. Lessons take place twice a week
  • content: lessons are conducted in English and are interactive, also accounting for brainstorming moments, oral and written exercises. Theoretical considerations and textual examples of persuasive discourse will be systematically re-conducted to their practical application.

Assessment methods

Both attenders and non attenders have to take the intermediate grammar test before the monographic/final part of the exam: to access the monographic having passed the grammar is compulsory.

As for the monographic part, for attenders it consists of a written examination and oral interaction (possibly preceded by a midterm test), on course content and bibliographic materials. More information will be given during the course.

Non attenders have to take a written test based on the text:

"The Language of Persuasion in Politics", Partington & Taylor, Routledge

A sample of the grammar test and the monographic for non attenders are available at the lecturer’s website, ‘Useful resources/links’ section.

For further information:


Teaching tools

Monographic course lesson content (notes and Power Point presentations, videos) will be made available for attenders (password-protected) at https://iol.unibo.it/, together with further indication for lecture notes and theoretical reference.

Office hours

See the website of Federica Ferrari