Meaning and Discourse - LING3050

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Eleni Kapogianni checkmark-circle


This module introduces linguistic approaches to the study of meaning and communication, emphasising the processes of decoding and inference through which interpretations are constructed. Relevant theoretical work in the fields of semantics and pragmatics is outlined, discussed and evaluated critically. Students explore intersections and differences between verbal meaning and meaning construction in both spoken and written discourse. The module also explores controversies over utterance or text meaning, connecting debates about how meanings are constructed with questions pertaining to boundaries of reasonable or warranted interpretation.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
This module will be assessed by 100% coursework.

• Take-home Assignment 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
• Take-home Assignment 2 (1,500 words) – 60%

Reassessment methods
This module will be reassessed by 100% coursework.

• Reassessment Assignment (2,500 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Birner, B. (2012). Introduction to Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Johnstone, B. (2017). Discourse Analysis. Third Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Saeed, J (2015). Semantics. Fourth Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Valenzuela, J. (2017). Meaning in English: An Introduction. Cambridge: CUP.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Understand concepts and terminology used to account for the way in which meanings are conveyed in discourse;
2 Reflect on the distinction between linguistically encoded meaning (semantics) on the one hand and context-dependent and discourse-dependent interpretation
(pragmatics/discourse analysis) on the other, using examples from real data;
3 Approach a variety of themes surrounding the nature of meaning;
4 Explore a number of distinct established core theoretical frameworks used to account for word meaning and lexical relations;
5 Demonstrate familiarity with distinctions between propositional content and illocutionary force, and theories of sentence meaning and sentence relations;
6 Investigate varying relationships between speaker and addressee in different kinds of speech events;

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Communicate the results of study and work accurately, with well-structured and coherent arguments in an effective and fluent manner;
2 Demonstrate their analytical skills, applying theoretical principles to real data;
3 Demonstrate a sensitivity to social, cultural and political issues;
4 Demonstrate their ability to undertake independent learning, by taking initiative, being organised and meeting deadlines.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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