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Advanced Semantics


Admission requirements

Students must have passed the course Language and Logic (called ‘Semantics 1’ in previous years), or an alternative course in propositional logic, predicate logic and modal logic at a similar level.


This course provides an advanced introduction to the study of natural language meaning. Since skills in formal logic are presupposed, this course will dive straight into the formal foundations of semantics, such as type theory, lambda abstraction and compositionality. We then focus on intensional semantics, a flavor of formal semantics that is uniquely suited for dealing with language’s capacity for ‘displacement’: we can talk about times different from the present, and about hypothetical situations different from the actual one, for instance with tense markers, conditionals, and modals. You will gain an understanding of formal semantic methodology and its interface with experimental linguistics, develop the ability to explore and compare different formal semantic accounts of a given phenomenon, and develop the skills required to understand, at a conceptual and formal level, papers published in this active research area.
NB. Last year this course was called ‘Semantics 2’.

Course objectives

  • You will be able to explain what intensional semantics is, and give an overview of the range of natural language phenomena where intensionality matters.

  • You will be able to compose, in intensional semantics, the meaning of a sentence from those of its lexical items.

  • You will be able to creatively develop a simple formal semantic account of a given phenomenon.

  • You will be able to compare different formal semantic accounts of a given phenomenon, both theoretically (i.e., how they work) and empirically (what exactly they predict, and how we could test this).

  • You will be able to read and understand research papers in formal semantics, at the level of being able to summarize the core phenomena and explanations given.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


There will be one, final written exam with a mix of closed questions, short open questions and essay questions.


The written exam comprises 100% of the grade.


A resit will be offered for the written exam, replacing the original grade entirely.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Free online lecture notes on Intensional Semantics, by Kai von Fintel and Irene Heim. We will use the latest ‘full version’ available for free from


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats