This is the page of the course Advanced Topics in Computational Semantics offered at the University of Amsterdam

Course coordinator: Ekaterina Shutova

Teaching assistants: Phillip Lippe and Verna Dankers



The field of computational semantics is concerned with automatic interpretation of natural language. This course will provide an overview of state-of-the-art approaches to language understanding tasks. This is an advanced research seminar aiming to introduce students to recent developments in this field. The course will consist of a set of lectures and seminar sessions, where the students will present and discuss recent research papers. This year we will focus on representation learning for NLP, considering different levels of language analysis: words, sentences and longer discourse fragments. We will also look at the recently proposed contextualised word representation models (such as ELMo and BERT), joint learning methods (including multilingual joint learning and multitask learning) and meta-learning methods (enabling fast model adaptation from only a few examples).

The course will also cover semantic models that lie at the intersection with other fields: multimodal semantic models that draw knowledge from linguistic and visual data, and cognitively-motivated semantic models and their evaluation against brain imaging data. Finally, we will look at the real world applications of these models in areas such as stance detection and automated fact checking.

An important component of the course is a research project, in which the students will have the opportunity to implement a number of semantic models, perform experiments addressing a new research question and write a research paper.

Video lectures and Piazza

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the course will be offered online this year. The lectures, seminar sessions and labs will take place via Zoom and the links to the sessions will be posted on Canvas. We will use piazza to answer your questions offline, please see the sign up details on Canvas as well.


The course has no exam. The grade is based on participation, including presentations of literature that the students give (25%) and a series of practical assignments, culminating in a research report that the students submit at the end (75%).


Since the course focuses on the recent advances in the field of NLP, there is no text book. The students will be referred to research papers throughout the course.

Machine Learning 1, Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing 1

For those of you who have not attended NLP1 please check the course website and reading materials.