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Syntactic Structures - LAN00011C

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Norman Yeo
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module introduces you to the study of the structure of words and sentences within a theoretical framework of generative syntax. You will learn how to analyse structure using syntactic tests that show how words group together and how to represent structure by drawing labelled trees, which are a visual representation of word and sentence structure.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module introduces you to the study of the syntactic subcomponent of the language faculty. Specifically, you will study the general principles underlying word and sentence structure. You will work towards learning a theory of grammar, which represents the knowledge that native speakers have about the structure of their language. You will learn how to analyse structure through the use of syntactic tests and diagnostics and how to represent structure by drawing labelled trees. You will develop core analytical skills in solving linguistic problems and learn to communicate your solutions effectively and succinctly.

Module learning outcomes

  • Select and apply appropriate syntactic diagnostics to a wide range of novel constructions

  • Synthesise different aspects of your knowledge about structural properties to propose basic analyses for syntactic constructions

  • Identify key patterns in data sets and express their distribution in terms of key syntactic concepts

  • Formulate and explicitly state simple theoretical generalisations about syntactic phenomena

  • Systematically apply the tools you’ve learnt to represent the syntactic structure

By the end of the module students will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the lexical category of English words

  • Apply syntactic tests for constituency

  • Identify clause boundaries in complex sentences

  • Identify different types of verbal category

  • Identify grammatical functions, such as subjects and objects

  • Draw trees and labelled brackets for basic English sentences

  • Identify major clause types: passive, relatives, interrogatives etc.

Module content

We aim to cover the following topics in this module:

  • The scientific study of linguistic structure

  • Hierarchical structure

  • Constituency tests

  • Heads and phrases

  • Lexical vs functional categories

  • Functional categories within TP, VP, DP

  • Syntactic movement


Task Length % of module mark
Short answers and tree drawing
N/A 40
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
OPEN1B : Syntactic Structures
3 hours 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
OPEN1B : Reassessment: Syntactic Structures
3 hours 100

Module feedback

Every week, you will do exercises and receive in-class oral feedback.

For submitted assessments, you will receive individual written feedback within the university mandated time limit.

Indicative reading


The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.