Postgraduate taught 

Philosophy (Conversion) MSc

Philosophy Of Language PHIL5076

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course discusses a number of major issues in the philosophy of language, including meaning, reference and truth. It includes the work of significant figures in the subject, for example Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Quine and Kripke.


2 lectures per week for 9 weeks, plus 4 tutorials. The course may not run every year. Options running this year are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Two essays, equally weighted, each with a word limit of 2500 words.

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Introduce students to a number of major issues in the Philosophy of Language, and the work of some major philosophers on these issues;

■ Allow students to become familiar with the main positions and arguments within each topic;

■ Encourage students to deploy these arguments in analysing the use of language in other contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Explain and use the following basic concepts used in mainstream contemporary philosophy of language: reference, truth, meaning, force, singular term, predicate, sentence, speech-act, indexicality;

■ Use those basic concepts in explaining several views in mainstream contemporary philosophy of language;

■ Critically assess the classical theories of meaning developed by Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970);

■ Critically assess objections to these theories advanced by Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam and other recent philosophers of language, along with the alternative picture advanced by Kripke;

■ Critically assess the principal doctrines propounded by Donald Davidson, including his conception of a theory of meaning;

■ Discuss critically some challenges to the classical picture, such as that advanced by W. V. Quine or Ludwig Wittgenstein.


Assessment for this course is at Masters Level.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.