Computer Laboratory

Course pages 2015–16

Advanced Topics in Natural Language Processing

Principal lecturers: Prof Ted Briscoe, Dr Stephen Clark
Additional lecturers: Dr Ronan Cummins, Dr Marek Rei, Dr Ekaterina Kochmar, Dr Mark Granroth-Wilding, Dr Tamara Polajnar, Dr Laura Rimell, Dr Helen Yannakoudakis
Taken by: MPhil ACS, Part III
Code: R222
Hours: 16 (4 lectures and 12 one-hour seminars)
Prerequisites: L90 or similar, L95, L101


This course explores current research topics in natural language processing in sufficient depth that, at the end of the course, participants will be in a position to contribute to research on the topic. Each topic will be introduced with a lecture which, building on the material covered in the prerequisite courses, will make the current research literature accessible. Each lecture will be followed by up to three seminar sessions which will typically be run as a reading group with student presentations on recent papers from the literature followed by a discussion.


Students choose four topics from the following (each topic requires a minimum number of students to run):

  • learning to rank,
  • integrating distributional and compositional semantics,
  • computational creativity,
  • kernels and kernel methods,
  • constructing and evaluating word embeddings,
  • applications of neural networks, and
  • active learning.


On completion of this course, students should be in a strong position to contribute to the research topics covered. They will understand the fundamental methods (algorithms, data analysis, specific tasks) underlying each topic and be familiar with recent research papers and advances in the field.


Students will be expected to undertake readings for their selected topics. Each student will give one or more 20-minute presentations on assigned papers and write a report or essay of no more than 5000 words.


  • Students will receive one tick worth 5% for attendance at 16 sessions, reading of assigned material, and satisfactory contribution during seminars.
  • Students will receive a second tick worth 5% for a satisfactory presentation of assigned papers.
  • Students will undertake one small project and write an associated report or write an essay addressing a research issue. The project or essay topic must be agreed with the course conveners. The report or essay will not exceed 5000 words and will account for 90% of the module marks.