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

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Niamh Kelly
  • Lecturer: Professor Michelle Sheehan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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, 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: What’s wrong with the English spelling system? What causes a foreign accent? What do we know as speakers of a language? Which aspects of English morphosyntax are subject to sociolinguistic variation?

This module will lay the foundations for more advanced modules considering sociolinguistic aspects of language and the acquisition of language.

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
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8116Syntactic Analysis
SEL8117Phonetics and Phonology
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures present subject materials to students, building on guided readings. 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 lecture and readings, using active learning.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A45Phonetics/phonology assessment, 1500 words.
Written exercise1A45Syntax assessment, 1,500 words.
Prob solv exercises1M10weekly "pop" quizzes on concepts, definitions, short problem sets on syntax and phonology.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will complete a set of exercises for both the syntax and phonetics/phonology components of the course. They will receive formative feedback to help prepare them for their final written assessment on tasks of a similar nature. Through the formative assessment students will have a chance to complete a mock assessment and mark it themselves in order to gain a better understanding of the marking criteria. The goal of the problem-solving exercises is to give the students an opportunity to practise what they have learned, to ensure they grasp the new concepts, and to check their ability to apply newly acquired knowledge to new examples.

Reading Lists