Philosophy of Language is designed for students with a particular interest in philosophy and ways in which its principles and teachings can be applied to the study of language. The study of language has given rise to a number of distinctive philosophical problems that became central to western philosophy in the nineteenth century and that have dominated research and discussion in the twentieth century.
Philosophy modules give students a thorough grounding of philosophical insights and critical reflection on the relationship between socio-political context and philosophical debate. Students are able to explore the history of philosophy from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century through to the development of a variety of critical and analytical traditions that have emerged from those foundations.
Philosophy of language modules examine the influence of philosophical theories on the analysis of language, focusing on the critical analysis of the relationship between philosophy of language and linguistics.
Philosophy of Language students approach their studies by:
- analysing and evaluating aspects of philosophy that have had significant influence on the general understanding of what language is and how its use interacts with, and exploits, context
- engaging with philosophical frameworks starting with Frege, through to Russell and Wittgenstein, which attempt to account for meaning in language
- evaluating philosophical foundations of critical theory that have contributed to debates on the understanding of history, politics and the nature of meaning.
The course can be studied full or part-time - one year full-time, two years part-time. Part-time students attend the university on one day a week.
The programme offers opportunities for study within a flexible framework that can fit in with students' professional and personal commitments. Where possible, sessions are timetabled in later afternoon and early evening slots to allow for as much flexibility as possible.
Areas of study
Meaning, Truth and Use enables students to engage with a range of theoretical frameworks which adopt a formal approach to explaining meaning in language.
Semantics-pragmatics Interface: approaches to the study of meaning looks at the relationship between philosophy of language and linguistics and the influence of philosophical theories on the analysis of language.
Foundations of Critical Theory provokes critical reflection on the relationships between socio-political context and philosophical insight. It provides a grounding in the history of political philosophy from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century as well as offering close and critical reading of pivotal texts.
Traditions of Critical Theory engages students with the relationship between intellectual traditions and political analysis of pivotal texts from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It maps the development of the variety of critical and analytical traditions that have emerged from those foundations.
The course structure gives students an opportunity to focus their study and research in the areas of philosophy and links between philosophy and language (ie theoretical linguistics). The culmination of this experience comes through a major piece of independent research, the dissertation.
Students also join those studying on other courses in attending fortnightly research seminars and talks by visiting and local speakers which will enhance their understanding of the subject areas, as well as offering opportunities to experience ways in which academic work and ideas can be presented to academic audiences. Weekly seminars on methodology and relevant research skills are also offered.
Semantics-pragmatics: minimalism and contextualism
Philosophy of Language
Career and progression opportunities
The course offers a profound experience, advanced understanding of a specialist area of philosophy of language and cultural and critical theory, and effective preparation for doctoral research in philosophy of language, philosophy, linguistics, cultural and critical theory or politics.
Other career opportunities may be in linguistics, philosophy of language, linguistic anthropology, politics, sociology, forensic linguistics, speech therapy, sign language, journalism, writing and teaching.