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Syntactic Theory - LAN00026M

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Norman Yeo
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module deepens your knowledge of the study of sentence structure. You will learn how to analyse the structure of more complex constructions and use theoretical concepts to explain a wider range of grammatical phenomena. You will also engage with the key areas of syntactic research, propose and evaluate theoretical solutions to syntactic problems and understand the nature of the open problems in syntactic analysis.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module introduces you to the structure of new and more complex constructions, as well as several key theoretical notions in syntax. You will investigate more deeply the differences between underlying and surface structure and use the theoretical concepts you have learned to explain the grammatical constraints that we observe in the empirical data.

Module learning outcomes

  • Engage with the key areas of syntactic research and the open questions in each area

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

  • Identify and represent the structure of a wider range of more complex constructions

  • Employ theoretical arguments to explain and predict the grammaticality of novel data sets

  • Formulate more complex theoretical generalisations about grammatical constraints

  • Identify and draw trees for more complex sentences with more than one clause

  • Explain and represent the fine structure of functional projections

  • Identify different types of predicates that take clausal complements

  • Identify and explain a variety of constructions that involve different types of movement

  • Identify and explain cases where movement violations have occurred

  • Use abstract theoretical concepts to explain grammatical phenomena and to formulate theoretical hypothesis and propose solutions

Module content

We aim to cover the following topics in this module:

  • Binding

  • Raising and control

  • Wh-constructions and island constraints

  • Split-VP (VP-shell) structures

  • DP/TP/CP structure

  • Case, agreement, A/A’-movement


Task Length % of module mark
Syntactic Theory dossier 1
N/A 40
Syntactic Theory dossier 2
N/A 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Syntactic Theory dossier 1
N/A 40
Syntactic Theory dossier 2
N/A 60

Module feedback

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

For submitted assessments, you will receive individual written feedback within 25 working days of your submission.

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.