Accessibility statement

Advanced topics in syntax and semantics



This module aims to support independent research in formal generative syntax and semantics by encouraging discussion with staff and peers engaged in related research.

By the end of this module, students will typically be able to:

  • Plan, design, and carry out a research project in syntax or semantics
  • Evaluate analytical literature from both the point of view of empirical coverage and that of theoretical coherence and formal elegance
  • Show familiarity with current proposals in generative syntax and semantics

Note that a Research Extension module can be taken alongside this module, for students who wish to write a dissertation.

This module will be capped at 35.



Students must have successfully completed both of the following:

  • L16I Intermediate Syntax
  • L11I Intermediate Semantics

Students are also strongly encouraged to take L43H Formal Syntactic Theory in Autumn term.



Contact hours

One two-hour seminar per week.

Teaching programme

The module will run seminar-style, with a focus on grammatical phenomena which have received analyses in terms of both syntax and semantics. Students will read papers which have been made available in advance, and will be called upon to make presentations of parts of the papers. Part of each seminar meeting will be given over to summarisation of the key points and main implications of the analyses. One goal of the seminar is to illustrate the potential balances and trade-offs between syntactic and semantic analyses. Students will choose their topic for the final essay in latter part of Spring term.

Suggestions for reading before the module starts

There are no assigned pre-readings for the module. Any of the further references suggested in Adger (2003) for syntax and Heim & Kratzer (1998) for semantics are potentially relevant. Specific module readings will be chosen on the basis of the preparation and interests of the students.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

  • Student presentations in the seminars serve as formative work. Oral feedback will be provided during the seminars.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • A 5000-word essay due in Week 5 of the summer term
    • Weight: 100%
  • Written feedback available at the end of the summer term


Transferable skills developed in this module

All modules provide an opportunity to work on general oral/written communication skills (in class and in assessments) and general self management (organising your studies), alongside the specific skills in language or linguistics that the module teaches.

In addition, this module will allow you to particularly develop skills in:

  • the application of data analysis skills: you will read primary sources of literature, and critically evaluate them to formulate your own opinions, both orally and in writing, in collaboration with and gaining feedback from others; you will find different interpretations of data, and come to appreciate the contingent nature of much knowledge: an important part of decision-making.
  • self-management: this module is delivered through seminars, and you are expected to plan much of your own work in order to meet deadlines.

Follow this link to hear how past students use transferable skills from their degree in their current jobs.

About this module