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Module QXL-2202:
Meaning, Mind and Truth

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Alan Wallington

Overall aims and purpose

This module allows students to explore, at an intermediate level, various phenomena in, and approaches to, the study of meaning at the word, sentence and discourse level. It covers many of the topics typically included in courses on semantics and pragmatics and will study in more depth some of the topics introduced in the first year module QXL1116 Introduction to Meaning. Thus, the module takes a largely consensual view of what topics to consider but will also emphasise some of the differences between various approaches to meaning such as Cognitive Semantics, Formal Semantics and approaches that look at 'meaning components'. The module will provide an overview of the key theories but will also examine more applied uses of semantics such as 'WordNet' and FrameNet'.

● To deepen students understanding of the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics) to an intermediary level, including by discussion and text analysis.
● To encourage students to think about the role of words, concepts, background knowledge and sentences in the creation of meaning.
● To make students aware of different approaches and theories in the study of meaning.
● To familiarise students with relevant literature.

Course content

1) Words, concepts and categories: Prototype theory
2) Idealised Cognitive Models, Frames and Domains
3) Lexical relations; WordNet and FrameNet
4) Polysemy
5) Meaning components, language universals, thematic roles
6) Sentence relations and truth: entailment and presupposition
7) Metaphor and figurative language
8) The role of context: deixis, implicature and Relevance Theory
9) Speech Acts
10) Mental Spaces Theory and Conceptual Blending
11) Wrap up: grammar and meaning, how might they be related?

Assessment Criteria


Student has achieved the minimum acceptable standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all the learning outcomes. Student can demonstrate a minimum level of understanding of the basic concepts and be able to apply them to data with some degree of accuracy.


Student has achieved a better-than-average standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes, and has a clear and accurate understanding of concepts; ability to apply concepts to data critically and thoughtfully; evidence of wide reading and clear and accurate reference to source materials; free from misunderstanding and errors of content; free from irrelevant material.


Student has achieved a thorough standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes; or student has demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in one or more learning outcomes together with a good overall standard: student has achieved a thorough understanding of the subject, both in terms of content and theory; student is able to apply concepts clearly and accurately; substantial evidence of critical and original thought and analysis; clear, logical argument; high level of communicative competence; free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation; evidence of extensive reading beyond basic texts and clear and accurate references to source material.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will know the terminology and the theoretical constructs/assumptions and approaches that underlie the study of linguistic meaning.

  2. Students will know and be able to explain the respective roles that concepts, words, sentences and context play in meaning and how these might relate to truth and to the mind.

  3. Students will understand the different main theoretical approaches that can be taken in the study of meaning.

  4. Students will be able to analyse language data using a range of different approaches/methodological frameworks.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Words & Concepts 15
Lexical Reltions 20
Meaning in Context 15
Essay 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


One 2-hour lecture per fortnight (over both semesters)


Monthly 1-hour seminar (over both semesters)

Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do further reading, go through materials covered in class and do further research on the topics, and prepare assignments.

Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 2 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.


Students are encouraged to see the lecturer on a one-to-one basis during published office hours (or by appointment) to discuss issues with the module content, seek clarification on topics and discussions, and discuss feedback on assessments and class exercises.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse, interpret data accurately, and draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
  • Fluency, confidence and proficiency in the use of English -students will demonstrate their ability and proficiency to use and understand and instruct others in English in a range of academic and classroom contexts.
  • Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Understanding the nature of commonalities and differences across languages - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to universals and diversity exhibited by and across languages.
  • Knowledge of linguistic theory and application - students will demonstrate a detailed knowledge of terms, issues, principles, aspects and best practices related to the study of human language and linguistics.
  • Knowledge of the relationship between language and society, culture, and/or embodied experience - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language, society culture and/or embodied experience.
  • Knowledge of the relationship between language and mind/brain - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language and mind/brain.
  • Proficiency in the use of English in reading, writing, speaking and/or listening - students will demonstrate proficiency in their ability to use and understand English in a range of different contexts and via different media.
  • Understanding of the nature and organization of language - students will demonstrate familiarity with observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: