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2017/18 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LING5410M Foundations of Syntax

15 creditsClass Size: 36

Module manager: Valentina Brunetto

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

Module replaces

LING5011M Elements of Grammar

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module will provide you with a strong grounding in the study of syntax. Syntax is the component of grammar that determines how words combine into larger units, how parts of sentences relate to each other, and how this impacts on meaning. Approaching human language from a descriptive rather than a prescriptive point of view, the study of syntax will increase your understanding of linguistic systems (in general) and of the languages you speak (in particular). This can provide language teaching professionals with a better understanding of what their students are attempting to learn. Although English is the common medium for teaching and discussion in this module, we will focus as much attention as possible on grammatical features of other languages of the world, exploring differences and universal constants.


In this module, students (i) will gain an understanding of how language is structured (how words combine into larger units and how this impacts on meaning), (ii) learn to carry out syntactic analysis of English and other languages, and (iii) be introduced to scientific reasoning (how theories are built and revised).

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have gained a strong understanding of syntax, from a generative perspective. They should also have developed skills in the analysis of familiar and unfamiliar languages, as well critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills.


Topics to be covered include:
- Argument structure (what predicates need to combine with)
- Constituency (how words combine into larger units)
- Complements and adjuncts (two different ways in which constituents can combine with other units)
- Drawing trees (to represent graphically the structure of sentences)
- Complex sentences (sentences including more than one clause)
- Questions (yes/no questions and content questions)
- Phrase Structure Grammar (how to build a model for a fragment of language)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours50.00
Private study hours85.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Independent learning: compulsory weekly exercises for self-study will be posted on the VLE, with model answers provided (after the deadline) for students to learn from and monitor their progress. The breakdown of hours is as follows: 4 hours per VLE exercise per week (total = 40 hours), plus 1 hour for self-evaluation and follow-up exercises (to be chosen from a menu of non-compulsory exercises).

Private study: Supplementary reading is key in this module. Students will be required to read relevant sections of the two textbooks following each lecture, as well as key chapters in other books. There will be an average of 3 hours of reading to complement lectures each week (total = 30), plus two hours of lecture revision and follow-up exercises (total = 20). In addition to this, there will be preparation for the assessed exercise (total = 10) and exam revision (total = 25).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Self-monitoring via the VLE exercises.
- A sample of student submissions will be analysed by the lecturer each week to identify areas of particular difficulty.
- All lectures and seminars will include a significant amount of exercises to do in class, with plenty of opportunities for feedback and questions.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)25.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 00 mins75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)75.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 02/03/2018 17:22:53


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