LAWSG136 Modern Advocacy and Classical Rhetoric

Credit value: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS, 150 learning hours)
Convenor: David Pope
Other Teachers: None
Teaching Delivery: 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars, Term Two
Who may enrol: LLM students only
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in Litigation and Dispute Resolution
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay
Final Assessment: One 2-hour unseen written examination (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

This course is about advocacy – the art of arguing persuasively on behalf of others. Advocacy is central to what modern lawyers (and many other professionals) do.

The main object of this course is to provide a grounding in the key principles of effective advocacy. Those principles were first identified by the ancient Greeks and Romans from the fifth-century B.C. Classical rhetoric, as those principles are now known, was both a theory of persuasion – an explanation for what human beings find persuasive – and a step-by-step guide to making persuasive arguments. This course examines the key tenets of classical rhetoric and their application to advocacy in the modern English legal system.

Like classical rhetoric, this course combines theory and practice. The practical element requires students to analyse examples of real-life advocacy, including oral and written submissions in recent English court proceedings.

The course convenor is a practising barrister with over 20 years’ experience of commercial litigation and arbitration in London

Module syllabus:

The main topics covered by this course are as follows:

  • Brief history of classical rhetoric
  • Defining rhetoric
  • Means of persuasion – logos, ethos and pathos
  • “Canons” of classical rhetoric – invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery
  • Classical rhetoric and modern theories of persuasion
  • Advocacy in the English legal system
  • Modern oral advocacy
  • Modern written advocacy
Recommended materials:

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment.

Preliminary reading:

For a light-hearted introduction to classical rhetoric and its application to modern (American) advocacy, see Sandler, Epps and Waicukauski, Classical Rhetoric and the Modern Trial Lawyer, 36 Litigation 2 (Winter 2010), available online at: