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230112 UE The Art of Argument: Reading and Writing Sociological Texts in English (2020W)

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 23 - Soziologie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first serve).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 08.10. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 15.10. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 22.10. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 29.10. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 05.11. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 12.11. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 19.11. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 26.11. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 03.12. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 10.12. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 07.01. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 14.01. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 21.01. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital
Thursday 28.01. 16:00 - 17:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Intended Student Learning Outcomes:

In this course, students will learn to:

(a) identify arguments other social science scholars make,
(b) develop their own argument in the context of the work of other scholars,
(c) effectively and efficiently identify scholarly resources appropriate for a literature review,
(d) evaluate the reliability of sources,
(e) integrate multiple sources into a literature review outline,
(f) advance their English skills in reading, writing, presenting, and discussing sociological issues


In this course, students will practice critical thinking, sociological reasoning, and argumentation, using English texts. We will identify and evaluate arguments other writers have made. The reading material will provide us considerable insights and methods to gain an understanding of the written work that sociologists and other social scientists produce. Using academic texts, we will develop our own sociological arguments and explore their strengths and weaknesses through webinar discussions and other forms of collaboration on Moodle. We will use the many scholarly resources available to us to help research and write our arguments and outline our literature reviews.

The course will help students in building key academic competencies (reading, developing arguments and writing) as they think about and write their masters theses.


Discussions (plenary / small groups)
Reading exercises
Short writing assignments
Peer review
Tools & Communication

Moodle will be the main portal to access the course material and instructions. The course Moodle site will provide you with following:

• Instructions and reading material, instructor's notes from input sequences (for example How to Read, Deciding on a Research Topic, etc.), links to relevant videos and podcasts
• Moodle Forums for announcements and student collaboration
• Submit your assignments

Course Weekly Video Meetings:

The Art of Argument seminar will meet each Thursday, starting at 16:00 via the program Collaborate. The Collaborate web link will be posted on the course’s Moodle Webpage.
Video Conference Attendance:

All students are required to present themselves to the class via the video link during class.

Assessment and permitted materials

Students will work on several small assignments throughout the semester. The requirements will be assessed in the following ways:

(a) class participation 10%
(b) review and critique of course reading material 20%
(c) written argument assignments 20%
(d) written reviews of peers' written critiques 20%
(e) develop and outline an argument 15%
(f) outline a literature review 15%

Important Grading Information:

If not explicitly noted otherwise, all requirements mentioned in the grading scheme must be met.

If a required task is not fulfilled, this will be considered as a discontinuation of the course. In that case, the course will be graded as ‘fail’ (5), unless there is a major and unpredictable reason for not being able to fulfill the task on the student's side (e.g. a longer illness).

In such a case, the student may be de-registered from the course without grading.

Whether this exception applies is decided by the lecturer.

If any requirement of the course has been fulfilled by fraudulent means, be it for example by cheating at an exam, plagiarizing parts of a written assignment or by faking signatures on an attendance sheet, the student's participation in the course will be discontinued, the entire course will be graded as ‘not assessed’ and will be entered into the electronic exam record as ‘fraudulently obtained’.

The plagiarism-detection service (Turnitin in Moodle) can be used in course of the grading: Details will be announced by the lecturer.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Attendance at the video conferences online is mandatory as this is a class that only works when students interact and actively participate. Students may miss 3 online classes maximum.

1 Sehr gut 90% or more
2 Gut 80% - 89%
3 Befriedigend 70% - 79%
4 Genügend 51% - 69%
5 Nicht genügend 50% or less

Therefore, students need 51% or more to pass the course.

Examination topics

All topics covered in this class are subject to assessment.

Reading list

Reading Exercise 01: "The Double Bind: The Damned-If-You-Do, Damned-If-You-Don’t Paradox Facing Women Leaders" by Deborah Tannen in Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers, ed. by Susan Morrison, 126 39. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

Reading Exercise 02: Ideal Family Size as an Intervening Variable between Religion and Attitudes towards Abortion by Mario Renzi. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 14, (1975), pp. 23 — 27.

Reading Exercise 03: Social Class and Childbearing in Black Families and White Families by Lareau. American Sociological Review, Vol. 67, No. 5 (Oct., 2002), pp. 747 — 776.

Reading Exercise 04: A Sociology of Luck by Michael Sauder. Sociological Theory, Vol. 38, No. 3 (2020), pp. 193 — 216.

NOTE: Depending on the interest of participants we will read additional supplementary material.

For those who want to get an early start, I recommend reading

Writing for Social Scientists:How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article (2nd. ed.) by Howard S. Becker (2007)
Learning to Write Badly: How to Succeed in the Social Sciences by Michael Billig (2016)

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Th 08.10.2020 15:10