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Unit of study_

LNGS3601: Semantics - Meaning, Reference and Mind

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

Semantics deals with the meaning of words, phrases, sentences and texts, and the relations between those meanings. Our goal is to explore the diversity of ways in which meaning can be expressed linguistically in different languages, as well as of what constitutes evidence for meaning.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LNGS3601
Academic unit Linguistics
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 2000 in Linguistics or 18 credit points at 2000 or 3000 level in English or Australian Literature
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Nick Riemer,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay
50% Formal exam period
Due date: 23 Nov 2021 at 23:59
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Exercise 1
20% Week 06
Due date: 17 Sep 2021 at 23:59
500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Exercise 2
30% Week 09
Due date: 15 Oct 2021 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found in the Canvas site for this unit.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Opening assumptions I: languages, words, minds Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Opening assumptions II: communication, behaviour, and kinds of meaning Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Definition 1 Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Definition I: introductory issues Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Definition 2 - isolating semantic meaning Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Definition II: the meaning of verbs; lexical relations and componential analysis Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Definition 3 - defining verbs Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Polysemy and online meaning construal Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Definition 4 - defining verbs continued Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Meaning and logic Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Meaning and logic Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Meaning and categorization: classical categories, prototype categories and exemplars Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Meaning and logic Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 'Cognitive' approaches to semantics Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Categorization Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 The semantics of grammar: tense and aspect Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Semantics of grammar: parts of speech Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Semantic analysis and ethnocentrism I Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Semantics of grammar Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Semantic analysis and ethnocentrism II Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Semantic analysis and ethnocentrism I Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Semantic variation and change I Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Semantic analysis and ethnocentrism II Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 Semantic variation and change II Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Semantic variation and change Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: students are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board which will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute for your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit with the exception of the textbook can be accessed through the Reading List link on the Canvas site for this unit.

  • Required textbook: Nick Riemer, Introducing Semantics (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

A course bibliography with additional readings will be posted on the course webpage.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. appreciate the complexity of meaning analysis in natural language and become familiar with some of the variety of options for its analysis
  • LO2. gain experience in presenting analyses of meaning and in distinguishing ‘sentence meaning’ from 'speaker meaning’
  • LO3. gain a fuller and more sophisticated understanding of the role that 'meaning' plays in explanations of language structure and use
  • LO4. understand a number of methodological and theoretical questions about the conduct of empirical enquiry into natural language.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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