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Level 6

6AANA048 Topics in Philosophy of Language


Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Eliot Michaelson


  • Summative assessment: 1 x 3,000 word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,500 word essay


  • Summative assessment: 1 x 4,000 word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,500 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks
Pre-requisites5AANB011 Philosophy of Language or 5AANA014 Intermediate Logic or equivalent from other universities.

Philosophy of language stands at the centre of 20th century analytic philosophy. The field is rich and diverse, including inquiries into reference, belief, knowledge, possibility, morality, being, and many other core philosophical topics - all via the window that language affords us onto both the world and our conception of that world. This module will build on students’ basic acquaintance with the philosophy of language developed in 5AANB011 Philosophy of Language in order to explore one of these strands of inquiry into the nature of language at far greater length. Sample topics include the nature of lying and deception, the foundations of meaning, reference, truth and paradox, and convention.     

Further information

Module aims

The module will help students to:

  • develop their abilities to interpret, synthesise and criticise complex texts and positions;
  • present and critically assess ideas orally and in writing in a clear and rigorous way;
  • undertake, with appropriate guidance, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
Learning outcomes

Students will acquire:

  • an advanced understanding of one or more central problems concerning philosophy of Language.
  • an understanding of the central claims, arguments and solutions to be found in contemporary discussions of these topics.
Past syllabi

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

Core reading

Mark Sainsbury, Reference Without Referents


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

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