Topics in Semantics - LL535

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 6 15 (7.5) DR L 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.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

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

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

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the fundamentals of empirical and formal inquiry in formal semantics;
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;
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);
Demonstrate sophisticated lines of argumentation, make informed judgements, provide analyses of data, and decide between competing analyses of data;
Demonstrate nuanced appreciation of the complexities, problems and limitations associated with the subject.


  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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