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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LING3030 Syntactic Theory

20 creditsClass Size: 18

Module manager: Zhishuang Chen

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23



This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module develops advanced analytical skills in generative syntax. Looking at data from English and other languages, we will test predictions made within various modules of the Principles and Parameters framework in order to explore theories of argument structure, thematic relations, case, and movement. We will take a formal approach to grammar that helps us detect universal patterns in the structure of the world’s languages, predict what sentences are or are not well-formed, and account for variation across languages. Students are expected to have completed LING2340 Syntax before enrolling on this module.


This module aims to:
(1) introduce students to an important theoretical framework of generative grammar
(2) provide an overview of key terminology and tools for advanced syntactic analysis
(3) develop analytical skills and hypothesis-testing for English and other languages through assessed coursework
(4) support independent learning through self-study exercises

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
(1) understand key terminology and concepts underlying generative grammar and the Principles and Parameters framework for syntactic theory
(2) analyse datasets and constituent structure for English and other languages
(3) employ sound syntactic argumentation and show critical awareness of generative approaches to syntax
(4) read some source literature within the Principles and Parameters framework


Lectures for this module explore topics such as the following:
(1) the design of language and introduction to generative approaches to grammar and the innateness debate
(2) the relationship between syntax and the lexicon
(3) individual modules of Principles and Parameters, including Theta Theory, Case Theory, various types of movement, Binding Theory and non-overt categories
(4) testing predictions made by the framework on data from English and a range of other languages
In weekly tutorials we consolidate the lecture material, do practice exercises and discuss solutions from the homework. Students use a study pack containing module materials and can work through the exercises independently.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours175.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are expected to devote 175 hours of private study time to this module, with the following suggested breakdown:
- Preparation for seminars: (10x8=) 80 hours
- Background reading: 45 hours
- Preparation for the coursework assignment and exam: 50 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Monitoring of student progress will take place through written feedback from the coursework assignment (returned before the exam) and through monitoring of contributions during teaching time.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentData set(s) with questions50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

This exam may be replaced by an alternative assessment administered online

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/09/2022


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