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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LING2340 Syntax

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Valentina Brunetto

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23


MODL1060Language: Structure and Sound

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Syntax is the component of language grammars that determines how words combine into larger units and how parts of sentences relate to each other. This module introduces students to principles of syntactic theory and trains students to carry out basic practical syntactic analysis with reference to English and other languages. Students gain a better understanding of the language(s) they speak, and become aware of the often surprising structural similarities between languages. The module introduces students to formal systems and develops students’ ability to build an argument and to identify supporting or conflicting evidence. Students are expected to have been introduced to syntax on a Level 1 module in linguistics or English language before enrolling on this module. Having completed this module, students can go on to do a more advanced syntax module at Level 3.


The module aims to:
(1) introduce students to the terminology and concepts of syntactic description and theory
(2) explain the principles underlying the study of the structure of language
(3) demonstrate how to analyse data from English and other languages (with guidance) and enable students to learn to formulate grammatical rules on the basis of such data
(4) develop students’ ability to write basic grammatical arguments
(5) foster student’s ability to study more advanced topics in syntactic theory

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should:
(1) have an understanding of the principles underlying the structural study of grammar, and in particular syntax
(2) be familiar with the basic terminology and concepts of syntactic description and theory
(3) be able to analyse data from English and other languages (with guidance) and to formulate grammatical rules on the basis of such data
(4) be able to write basic grammatical arguments


The module consists of a lecture programme and a practical programme, running in parallel. Lectures cover topics such as lexical categories, grammatical categories, predicates and arguments, constituency, X-bar syntax, clauses and subordination, and syntactic processes. Seminars revolve around the discussion of practical analysis exercises, and are complemented by a programme of on-line study. The data used in this module are mainly from English, but analytical illustrations and problems from other languages are also given.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are expected to devote 180 hours of private study time to this module, with the following suggested breakdown:
• Reading for lectures and seminars: (15x4=) 45 hours
• Preparation of seminar, workshop and self-study exercises: (10x6=) 60 hours
• Preparation of the assessed assignment: 30 hours
• Preparation for the exam: 45 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students are encouraged to participate actively in the seminars and in the workshops following each lecture, where exercises are discussed in detail and formative feedback is provided where relevant. They are also given self-study exercises to complete on Minerva, with answers for students to evaluate their understanding and progress. Workshops and self-study exercises help students to become familiar with the tools of syntactic analysis, core syntactic terminology and sentence structure. In the seminars, students work through problem sets and practice basic syntactic arguments, in groups. These classes prepare students for the practical coursework in particular.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentData set(s) with questions40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

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) (S1)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

This exam may be replaced by an alternative assessment administered online

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/09/2022


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