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Intermediate syntax


This module follows directly from Introduction to Syntax by addressing the more advanced topics found in the second half of Sportiche, Koopman & Stabler (2014). The aim of the module is to develop the tools of syntactic analysis and description that you began to acquire in the first year, and to introduce you to a more formal syntactic framework that will equip you with the theoretical apparatus and the skills to solve syntactic problems.

By the end of this module, students will typically:

  • Have an understanding of some basic concepts in the formal analysis of syntactic data
  • Know how to make use of theoretical tools from syntactic theory in the analysis of complex data
  • Begin to be able to evaluate theoretical claims 
  • Begin to be able to develop written arguments in the syntactic style


Students must have successfully completed:

  •  L11C Introduction to syntax

Information for visiting students: Because the module requires knowledge from the first half of a set text, visiting students must have demonstrable basic competence in X-bar/Minimalist syntax, e.g. by being able to represent tree structures involving the CP level. Visiting students may not register for this module without the prior approval of the module instructor who will evaluate whether your pre-requisite knowlege is sufficient.


Contact hours

Two hours per week.

Teaching programme

1 hour lecture/1 hour seminar per week, similar in structure to Introduction to Syntax. The lectures will cover material in the textbook chapters and the seminars will be used for chapter exercise discussion. This module aims to cover the second half of the textbook used in Introduction to Syntax; however, the module is a step up from Introduction to Syntax in that we will move beyond simply doing exercises, and there will be a focus on conducting independent research in Syntax. There will also be a small component of informal group work.

Teaching materials

  • Sportiche, D., Koopman, H., & Stabler E. (2013) An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory.

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

Oral feedback to group and individuals from both instructor and other students in practical classes. Model answers presented by students, with further comments and corrections. Opportunity for further individual consultation, including during surgery hours.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Coursework
    • Description: Two essays to be submitted in Week 7 of Spring term and Week 1 of Summer term which are marked summatively.
    • Weight: 40%
    • Feedback: Departmental feedback sheet with a mark on the University scale for individual assignments completed during term, returned to student with the assignment two (term-time) weeks after submission with opportunity for further individual consultation. Students return the assignments to the lecturer to form part of summative assessment.
  • Two-hour closed examination
    • Summer Term, Weeks 5-7
    • Weight: 60%
    • Feedback: Mark on University mark scale. Model answer and/or an opportunity to see scripts at an appointed time in the term following assessment.

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:

  • collaborating with others: you will solve problems together with other students in small groups and you will agree with others how best to synthesise information you have learnt.
  • problem solving: in this module you will explore the link between real life syntactic data and a generative theory of syntax.
  • argumentation: having learnt how researchers test different theoretical hypotheses and use the results to argue for a particular approach, you will learn to apply this approach to your own analyses.

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

Handwriting by Kirk Kittell on flickr

About this module

  • Module name
    Intermediate syntax
  • Course code
    L16I (LAN00016I)
  • Teacher 
    Norman Yeo
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits