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A course rooted in rhetoric and argumentation, teaching how to be clear and persuasive in the domain of engineering studies.

Course description

The course teaches engineering scholars how to improve their communication skills, using theory, examples and practical exercises.

Topics include basics of rhetoric (how to be clear), basics of argumentation theory (how to be persuasive), public speaking, grant writing, scientific writing.

The main target are engineering scholars; the first 3 weeks, though, can be useful to anyone wishing to improve their communication skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes


No prerequisite knowledge is required.


Over and above consulting the content, in the form of videos and other web-based resources, you will have the opportunity to discuss course topics and to share ideas with your peers in the Forum of this MOOC.

Topic outline

  • Week 0 - Introduction to the course

    Introduction: Why communication?
    A brief philosophical foundation for the “deep reasons” why we need to improve our communication skills.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 1 - How to be clear

    Hints from rhetoric (the “art of speaking”) on how to: decide what to say, arrange the topics properly, decide on the right style and take into consideration the audience.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 2 - How to persuade

    Tips from argumentation theory on how to: find strong arguments, use them and identify potentially deceitful arguments.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 3 - How to present in public

    Suggestions on how to: use your voice, gestures, movements and additional “tools” to make your public presentation effective.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 4 - How to write a project proposal

    Recommendations on how to: structure a project proposal, write a powerful executive summary and “get ahead” of the reviewer.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 5 - How to write a scientific paper

    Directions on how to: structure a scientific paper, write a good abstract, not to drawn in the state of the art and show that the results are valuable.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Additional Resources


Your final grade for the course will be based on the results of your answers to the graded quizzes. You have unlimited attempts at each quiz, but you must wait 5 minutes before you can try again. You will have successfully completed the course if you achieve 60% (or more) of the total course score. The maximum score possible for each quiz is given at the top of the quiz. You can see your score in the quiz on your last attempt or on the 'Grades' page.

Certificate of accomplishment

You must be registered in POK through Politecnico di Milano personal account to obtain the Certificate of Accomplishment. It will be released to anyone who successfully completed the course by achieving at least 60% of the total score in the graded quizzes and filling the final survey. 

You will be able to download the Certificate of Accomplishment directly from Politecnico di Milano web services.

The Certificate of Accomplishment does not confer any academic credit, grade or degree

Information about fees and access to materials

You can access the course absolutely free of charge and completely online.

Course faculty

Nicoletta Di Blas

Nicoletta Di Blas


Nicoletta Di Blas is associate professor in educational technology at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). Di Blas graduated in classics and holds a PhD in general linguistics. She has been teaching communication skills at Politecnico (master level) for almost 20 years and technology-based communication for cultural heritage at the University of Italian Switzerland for 8 years. She has taken part in more than 20 research projects, coordinating a number of them. She has (co)authored more than 150 publications, mostly at international level.

Read the complete CV

Contact details

If you have any enquiries about the course or if you need technical assistance please contact For further information, see FAQ page.