Skip to Content


Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This course aims to introduce students to three of the main theoretical approaches to the study of language and meaning through a focused study of three central figures in the literature: Ferdinand de Saussure, Paul Grice and Gottlob Frege. In studying these figures, we will focus on the distinct contribution philosophy has to make to the study of language, and on the wider philosophical applications of a proper understanding of linguistic meaning.

Download Course Guide

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Gerard Hough

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Programme Level 3

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • PH355H Theories of Meaning: an Intro to the Philosophical Study of Language (Studied)
  • PH455H Theories of Meaning: an Intro to the Philosophical Study of Language (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course has two distinct aims. Firstly, to introduce you to some extremely influential analyses of language and its workings. Secondly, through studying this material, to teach you a bit about what philosophical - as opposed to psychological, linguistic or literary - research is like and how it might contribute to the study of language and thought. We will cover three main approaches to language: analysing meaning in terms of truth; analysing meaning in terms of speakers' thoughts and intentions; analysing meaning in terms of linguistic structure. To do this, we will focus on the work of three central figures in 19th and 20th century philosophy of language: Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), and Paul Grice (1913-1988). These three figures, taken together, have had an immense influence on the study of language through the 20th century and up to the present day. A good grounding in the basics of their work will serve you well if you are interested in the study of language, whether it be in philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, or literature.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt

  • Three short comprehension essays (20%)
  • One critical essay (40%)
  • One take-home exam (40%)


  • One short comprehension essay
  • One critical essay

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.


Regular informal feedback in class, in response to assigned class preparation work and class participation.

Formal feedback on all summative assessment.

Course Learning Outcomes


Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.