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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LING5430M Topics in Syntax

15 creditsClass Size: 24

Module manager: Valentina Brunetto

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides students with a thorough understanding of selected current topics in syntactic research. Topics are centred around four themes: restrictions on the interpretation of pronominal elements (such as ‘she’ and ‘herself’), syntactic movement, word order and information structure, and cross-linguistic variation versus language universals. Students learn advanced syntactic terminology, read research papers and undertake their own analysis of language data from a range of languages.


This module aims to provide students with a thorough understanding of selected aspects of the structure of language, advanced skills in the syntactic analysis of language data, and advanced scientific reasoning skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should have:
1. an advanced understanding of selected aspects of syntactic structure from a generative perspective
2. an ability to tackle primary research literature in the area of syntax
3. advanced skills in practical syntactic analysis
4. an ability to think critically and to assess and formulate arguments through scientific reasoning


This module adopts a topic-oriented approach, examining a number of key topic areas in syntax from both theoretical and methodological perspectives. The topics vary from year to year, spanning four broad areas of investigation: the interpretation of pronominal elements, syntactic movement, word order and information structure, and cross-linguistic variation. The topics are introduced and contextualised together at the start of the module, followed by blocks of lectures and seminars dedicated to each topic in turn.

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

Students are expected to devote 135 hours of independent study time to this module, with the following suggested breakdown:
- core reading for the lectures: (10x3=) 30 hours
- follow-up reading and exercises related to lecture content: (10x2=) 20 hours
- preparation for seminars using the VLE: (5x4=) 20 hours
- self-study using the VLE: (10x3=) 30 hours
- preparation for the report: 15 hours
- preparation for the open book exam: 20 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The lectures incorporate practical activities which provide students with regular opportunities for asking questions and gaining formative feedback. The fortnightly seminars are a forum for monitoring students’ syntactic analysis skills, as well as their use of the self-study materials developed for the module, and for providing formative feedback where relevant. Students are given feedback on the assessed analysis task before the exam.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Report2,000-word analysis report40.00
Online AssessmentOpen Book Exam60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

1 Hour Open Book Exam

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:41:56


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