Dictionaries and Thesauruses ENGLANG4066

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course focuses on the history and study of the making of dictionaries and thesauruses, some of the oldest and most heavily-used reference publications in existence. It explores the history of dictionary and thesaurus making and the principles - both scholarly and commercial - which underlie a good dictionary or thesaurus.


20 hours of interactive teaching sessions (mixture of lecture material and seminars) taking place within a semester as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Language & Linguistics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Language & Linguistics, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses



1: Scholarly Project: extract from a proposed scholarly dictionary or thesaurus with explanatory proposal and covering material (45%), Length as appropriate to project type as approved by course convener but usually no fewer than twenty sense entries or equivalent (no longer than the equivalent of two and a half pages of a major scholarly dictionary or thesaurus).


2: Commercial Project: extract from a proposed commercial dictionary or thesaurus with explanatory proposal (45%). Length as appropriate to project type as approved by course convener but usually no fewer than thirty sense entries or equivalent (no longer than the equivalent of two pages of a major commercial concise-style dictionary or thesaurus).


3: Short answer set exercise (10%).

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ introduce students to the practical construction of linguistic reference works in the form of English dictionaries and/or thesauruses.

■ includes exposure to the history of dictionaries/thesauruses and their scholarly and commercial requirements

■ develop skills in designing, proposing, and creating professional lexicographical work

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ formulate and appraise scholarly and commercial dictionary/thesaurus publishing proposals;

■ effectively construct real-world examples of lexicographical output;

■ critically assess the relationship between linguistic theory and practical reference works in linguistics.

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.