Module Catalogue 2022/23

SEL1027 : Introduction to the Structure of Language 1: Syntax and Phonology

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Michelle Sheehan
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Niamh Kelly
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To establish a basic understanding of language structure with respect to developing the skills necessary for examining and describing linguistic data. This module will heighten metalinguistic awareness in a systematic way that will inform and enhance the sensitivity, accuracy, and clarity of the student's knowledge of language structure, including English. There will also be lectures relating these strucural issues to questions of wider interest (see below).

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction to Language Structure

The core of the module consists of the foundations for the study of language, sentence structure and language sounds & systems. The sentence structure component in the module includes English sentence structure, involving syntactic structure, constituency, function, and categories, modification, and complementation. The language sounds component examines the representation of speech sounds and articulatory classification, along with the description of consonants and vowels and the structure of the syllable. The fundamental distinction between phonetics and phonology and the distribution of speech sounds will also be introduced.

Throughout the module these structural aspects will be related to wider questions such as: how do children acquire language? what’s the relationship between language and literacy? how can people with different dialects still understand each other? what’s wrong with the English spelling system? how can syntactic structure explain ambiguous sentences? what causes a foreign accent?

Taken as a whole, this module will lay the foundations not only for the linguistic structures to be studied but also for the kinds of questions an understanding of language structures can help to address.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

To arrive at an understanding of (a) the structure of sounds and the linguistics of speech sound systems, and (b) the hierarchical structure of English sentences and its relation to syntactic function and category.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The ability to organise and analyse linguistic data and apply general concepts to particular examples.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00There will be two lecture hours per week
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion82:0016:00Preparation of small group work and revision for exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching221:0022:00Synchronous small-group discussion of module materials with set exercises
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity1014:00140:00Reading subject materials and revising lectures
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures present subject materials to students, reinforcing the readings they are expected to have done. The purpose of the Small Group Work is to back up, (by means of summary, elucidation, and illustration) the concepts and analyses presented in the module text. Small group work calls for the application of concepts outlined in reading and lectures to the analysis of specific examples.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A50Phonetics/phonology assessment
Written exercise1A50Syntax assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MFormative assessment for phonology
Prob solv exercises1MFormative assessment for syntax
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will complete a set of exercises for both the syntax and phonetics/phonology components of the course. The formative feedback they receive will help prepare them for their final written assessment which will feature tasks of a similar nature.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.