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The University of Southampton

PHIL2010 Philosophy of Language

Module Overview

Philosophy of language explores the nature of meaning, language, and communication. What is it for a word or sentence – things which in and of themselves are simply noises or marks on a page – to mean something? What is it for a word to refer to something in the world? What is it for a sentence to express someone’s thought? This module will address these questions by considering the work and ideas of some of the central figures in the philosophy of language, including Frege, Russell, Quine, Grice, and Kripke.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the central doctrines of contemporary philosophy of language.
  • the capacity of these doctrines to account for key elements in our understanding of the meaning, language, and communication.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • articulate and defend your own views on the topic and to relate the issues they concern to issues in other areas of philosophy.
  • present and debate ideas in writing, in an open minded and rigorous way.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake, with adequate supervision, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes from talks and written materials.


The syllabus may vary from year to year. Topics may include: 1) Locke on the nature of language 2) Frege on sense and reference 3) Russell and Strawson on definite descriptions 4) Kripke on proper names 5) Davidson on truth and meaning 6) Grice on meaning and communication

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In class discussion - One to one consultation with the module coordinator Learning activities include - Attending classes - Contributing to class discussion - Preparing for and completing assessment tasks - Applying techniques and skills learnt to your reading and writing inside and outside the module

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

M Morris (2007). An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy). 

W Lycan (1999). Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction. 



Draft essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 60%
Examination  (60 minutes) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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