Metaphor in Professional Settings

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Metaphor in Professional Settings

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Communication Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Must have passed all second year courses.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Goals of the course: In this course, you will learn how to discuss current research on metaphor in different professional settings (such as
    politics and education) in a critical and constructive fashion; you will learn how to analyze metaphorical language and its different
    manifestations and functions; and in the process, you will improve your skills in written and oral presentation in English.

    Course contents: A metaphor is a figure of speech in which we conceive of an item from one (target) domain in terms of an item from another (source) domain. We know metaphor from literary texts, like Shakespeare’s sonnets (‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?), but metaphors are also crucial beyond literature. We use them as the major device to make sense of complex or abstract phenomena and to convey our everyday conceptual and emotional experiences. Most of us are unware of the way our language system is filled with metaphorically used words (think about verbs and prepositions). At the same time, in many disciplines metaphor is used more deliberately for rhetorical or instructional purposes. For example, politicians talk about ‘going to war against’ the Corona epidemic; epidemiologists have framed it as a disaster (‘your house is on fire’) and its spread has been described as a ‘domino-effect’. Metaphorical language has the power to illuminate, but also to obscure a topic; it has the power to change the way we view the world.

    In this course, we will explore the use of metaphorical language and the different functions it has (e.g. to transfer knowledge, to create identity, to frame and envisage other realities) in different professional settings, such as politics, health care (and illnesses), translation and education. Such awareness of metaphors and its functions provides you with a critical view on language use, its potential and pitfalls.

    Course structure: Tutorial - a reading list combined with assignments (e.g. presentation or small report) + 6 meetings (1 per week).

    Forms of assessment: Assignments (40%), final essay (60%). The final grade will be a total of both parts. All components must be graded at least 5,5. Anyone failing the course may resit only the portion(s) failed.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work; others help us improve the user experience. By using the site, you consent to the placement of these cookies.

Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.