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Advanced topics in psycholinguistics


This module focuses on the relation between the grammar and the parser and between linguistic theory and psycholinguistics. This module builds on the Autumn term module Psycholinguistics (LAN00027H) and aims to support independent research in experimental psycholinguistics, with a focus on sentence processing by encouraging discussion with staff and peers engaged in related research.

Besides introducing current approaches to the relation between the grammar and the parser, the course provides specific examples of how linguistic analysis can shape our understanding of cognitive mechanisms (e.g. memory).

By the end of the module students should:

  • become aware of the interaction of cognitive general and language specific constraints in the domain of sentence processing;
  • evaluate experimental psycholinguistics literature from both the point of view of empirical coverage and that of theoretical coherence and formal elegance;
  • connect linguistic theory to experimental predictions;
  • evaluate relevance of experimental results for specific theoretical positions;
  • plan, design and carry out a basic research project in experimental psycholinguistics.

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:

  • L16I Intermediate syntax
  • L27H Psycholinguistics


Contact hours

2 contact hours per week of lectures and practical work or seminars.

Teaching programme

The course will focus on sentence processing, providing examples of the contribution of sophisticated linguistic theory to the understanding of memory mechanisms and apparent cross-linguistic and cross-population variation in processing. Issues at the interface of syntax with memory, pragmatics and prosody will be discussed, together with issues in language acquisition and impairment (the course might not cover each of these topics every year). Discussion of specific issues in experimental psycholinguistics will be carried on alternating traditional lectures with seminar-style teaching.

Topics will include:

  • sentence comprehension
  • sentence production
  • syntactic processing and memory mechanisms
  • processing of filler-gap dependencies

Teaching materials

A pack of readings will be available.

Assessment and feedback

Formative assessment and feedback

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: Week 5, Summer term
    • Weight: 100%
    • Written feedback available by the end of 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

  • Module name
    Advanced topics in psycholinguistics
  • Course code
    L67H (LAN00067H)
  • Teacher 
    Nino Grillo
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits