Topics in Semantics - LING5350

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Laura Bailey checkmark-circle


This course builds on the student's knowledge of semantic phenomena, introducing formal approaches and the semantic metalanguage. Students will be provided with a small set of formal tools for the analysis of linguistic meaning. Students will learn to use these tools to probe into the nature of meaning in natural language and into different types of semantic phenomena. Specific topics that will be dealt with include predication, argumenthood, entailment, presupposition, definiteness and quantification.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

• Assignment 1 (1,200 words) – 45%
• Assignment 2 (1,300 words) – 55%

Reassessment methods

• Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Chierchia, G., and S. McConnell-Ginet. (2000) Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gamut, L.T.F. Logic, Language and Meaning. Chicago: Chicago University Press (two volumes).
Heim, I. and A. Kratzer. (1998) Semantics in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kearns, K. (2011) Semantics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Partee, B. et al. (1990) Mathematical Methods in Linguistics. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Saeed, J. (2003) Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.

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 Demonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the fundamentals of empirical and formal inquiry in formal semantics;
2 Demonstrate a systematic advanced-level understanding of some of the mathematical methods that underpin the investigation of linguistic meaning in formal semantics,
such as set theory and functions;
3 Deploy accurately established modes of analysis and investigation pursuant to the advanced study of meaning, including cross-disciplinary investigations (e.g. exploring
connections to philosophy, literature and psychology);
4 Demonstrate sophisticated lines of argumentation, make informed judgements, provide analyses of data, and decide between competing analyses of data;
5 Demonstrate nuanced appreciation of the complexities, problems and limitations associated with the subject.

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

1 Demonstrate their capacity for critical thought and their ability to express these thoughts accurately;
2 Demonstrate their critical thinking skills and be able to assess the extent to which their own hypotheses are validated by new data and problems given to them;
3 Demonstrate their written fluency at an advanced level;
4 Demonstrate their communicative skills and be able to engage with both specialist and non-specialist audiences;
5 Demonstrate their time management skills.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 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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