Great Ideas about Language (Q1084)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

This module explores the history of ideas about language from the Enlightenment to the present. Through lectures and seminars we will explore the answers to the following: What questions have propelled linguists and philosophers at different points in history? How have the attempts to answer them influenced and been influenced by the intellectual milieu of the day? How do one's assumptions about what language is affect what counts as evidence in investigating it? How have these ideas fared through the decades? Key topics that we will consider include: the birth of linguistics in the shift from diachronic to synchronic studies, Chomskyan rationalism and innatism, the linguistic turn in philosophy, the relation between language and thought, European structuralism and functionalism, and the cognitive turn.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: