Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code PHIL276
Coordinator Dr IM Markolefas
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 5 FHEQ Second Semester 15


To introduce students to key concepts and figures in the project of understanding natural language. To introduce students to the distinction between semantics and pragmatics and to speech-act theory. To introduce students to some contemporary applications of speech-act theory to topics in political philosophy.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will be able to explain different accounts of the meaning and function of referring expressions.

(LO2) Students will be able to understand and apply the distinction between semantics and pragmatics.

(LO3) Students will be able to discuss competing philosophical accounts of the relation between meaning and use.

(LO4) Students will be able to explain and critically assess Grice’s theory of meaning and/or Austin’s speech-act theory.

(LO5) Students will be able to apply theoretical tools from philosophy of language to questions about free speech and harm in political philosophy.

(S1) Problem solving/ critical thinking/ creativity analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.

(S2) Communication, listening and questioning respecting others, contributing to discussions, communicating in a foreign language, influencing, presentations

(S3) Information literacy online, finding, interpreting, evaluating, managing and sharing information

(S4) Literacy application of literacy, ability to produce clear, structured written work and oral literacy - including listening and questioning

(S5) Problem solving/ critical thinking/ creativity analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.

(S6) Self-management readiness to accept responsibility (i.e. leadership), flexibility, resilience, self-starting, initiative, integrity, willingness to take risks, appropriate assertiveness, time management, readiness to improve own performance based on feedback/reflective learning

(S7) Problem solving skills

(S8) Organisational skills

(S9) Communication skills



Indicative content

Part 1: Theories in the Philosophy of Language
1. Sense and Reference
2. Reference and Description
3. Meaning and Use
4: Meaning and Intention
5. Speech Acts

Part 2: Applied Philosophy of Language
1. Pornography and Silencing
2. Hate Speech and Slurs
3. Dog-whistle Politics

This module develops content introduced in political philosophy and ethics (year 1) around free speech and feminism but approaches that content through a different philosophical lens and with new theoretical tools. Students will have the opportunity to apply the theoretical devices in the philosophy of language to issues that impact on global citizenship and digital fluency, in particular, contemporary debates about free speech, censorship, dog whistle politics, hate speech and silencing.

Library resources will be accessible through the module reading list, other key learning resources will accessible through VITAL.

For the first pa rt of the module students will not be expected to find supplementary resources.

For the second part of the module students will be conducted semi-independent research and will be expected to identify supplementary resources. These can be shared in workshops and via the discussion board.

Students will be expected to complete independent reading in preparation for workshops and then to study set resources in the workshops with tutor guidance.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

‘Standard’ delivery is campus-based. Variants for hybrid/online teaching are given below.

Teaching Method 1 - Collaborative Learning (synchronous; online or on campus, as required)
Description: Workshops are formative spaces of applied and enquiry-led learning centred on pre-set readings and facilitated by the tutor. They are orientated toward the assessment activities, and a chance for students to receive formative feedback on oral and written work. Workshops offer opportunities for students to respond to tutor- and peer-set questions, deepen understanding, apply ideas, develop arguments and build confidence through group discussion.

For this module, the workshops will take place prior to lecture on the topic, and will be preparation for the lecture.

Each workshop will begin with one or two students sharing a 2-page summary document based on the previous topic, recording the key points, concepts, arguments and terminology. The main part of the wo rkshop will be small-group or individual study, based on set texts, with guidance from the tutor as required. The final part of the workshop will be a whole-group discussion where the lecture for the topic will be co-created – that is, the core issues, problems, and concepts that will be covered in the lecture, will be determined by the students, in conversation with the tutor, through reflection on the workshop’s tasks. For the second part of the module, when there are no lectures, the group discussion will identify core issues, problems, and concepts to be included in the student 2-page summary document presented at the start of the following workshop.

Attendance Recorded: Yes

Teaching Method 2 - Lecture (asynchronous and online)
Description: Lectures for this module will cover the theoretical content (part 1 of the module) and will be co-created by the tutor and students in the workshops. The lectures will come after the workshop on the relevant topic, and as well as offering a map of the syllabus and a framework for independent enquiry-led research, will respond to and focus on areas that students identify as especially important or challenging. Students will take collective responsibility for the lecture content and will be able to see the lectures as direct responses to their own enquiries and questions.

Attendance Recorded: No
Notes: The five lectures correspond to the topics in part 1 of the module.

Teaching Method 3 - Discussion Board (asynchronous online)
Description: The vital Discussion Board will be a forum for peer-to-peer teaching and learning, resource sharing, and feedback. The module tutor will monitor the conversation and contribute when appropriate.

Self-directed learning: There will be an online discussion board in VITAL associated with each week of the module. Students can contribute to the discussion during workshops or in their own time. The tutor will monitor the discussion and contribu te when appropriate. The module reading list includes core readings – the focus of workshop study – and additional further reading for self-directed study and learning. The topics in the second part of the module are designed to encourage reflection on real-world application and students’ own experiences of the phenomena in question, in a manner that opens up avenues for self-directed enquiry. The discussion board will be a space to record and share these reflections.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 6


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 122


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Executive Summary There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When): Mid-semester    15       
2,500 word essay on material covered in weeks 6-11. There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When):     85       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.