Syllabus for Semantics of Programming Languages

Semantik för programmeringsspråk

A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 1DL311
  • Education cycle: First cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Computer Science G2F
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2013-03-21
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: Spring 2013
  • Entry requirements:

    60 credits in mathematics and computer science, including courses in algebra, logic, a second programming course and programming in at least one functional and one imperative language.

  • Responsible department: Department of Information Technology

Learning outcomes

The aim of semantic descriptions is to give an exact definition of the implication of a programming language without uncertainties or ambiguities. This is useful when designing programs that use other programs as data, e.g. compilers, but also for programmers for reference.

After the course, the student should be able to

  • explain and apply formal semantic descriptions of programming languages and other formal languages, particularly in operational semantics.
  • construct simple semantic descriptions in operational semantics, and
  • apply methods to prove basic properties of semantic descriptions.


Use of formal semantics. Overview of semantic methods (operational, denotational and axiomatic semantics). Properties of semantic descriptions. Compositionality and structural induction. Structural operational semantics. Natural semantics.

Techniques for describing the operational semantics of programming language constructs. Applications of operational semantics.


Lectures, lessons and seminars. Labs may occur.


The course is examined by oral and written examination spread throughout the course and active participation in seminars.

Other directives

The course cannot be included in a degree together with the course Semantics and principles of programming languages (2AD514, 2AD516).

Syllabus Revisions

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Spring 2015

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Nielson, Hanne Riis; Nielson, Flemming Semantics with applications : an appetizer

    London: Springer, 2007

    Find in the library


The book is also available electronically.

  • Nielson, Hanne Riis.; Nielson, Flemming. Semantics with applications: an appetizer

    London: Springer-Verlag London Limited, 2007

    Find in the library

Last modified: 2022-04-26