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SEL2089 : Syntactic Theory

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Anders Holmberg
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


- Acquaint the student with beginning to intermediate concepts and explanatory mechanisms in syntactic theory.
- Explore the application of these concepts to the syntax of present-day languages, with a particular focus on English.
- Develop critical thinking skills through the examination of different explanatory approaches to problems in the syntax of present-day English.

Outline Of Syllabus

Following on from SEL1027, this module provides an introduction to syntactic theory within Chomsky’s Principles and Parameters approach. It is a required course for students on Linguistics degrees, but is open to any student who has taken SEL1027. Topics to be addressed include: X’-Theory, Case and Theta-Theory, Binding Theory, Subjacency and constraints on transformations, Logical Form.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion148:0048:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00inc. 10 hours directed groupwork
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study126:0026:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8026Generative Syntax
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to the knowledge and skill outcomes. Seminars consolidate the skill outcomes through conceptual questions distributed for discussion and problem sets to be discussed in seminar. Private study is an important part of the programme, requiring close reading of the material both in advance of lectures and as a follow-up to them.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination501M20No aids. Held during lecture hour.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A803000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-term examination gives the students a good sense of their progress as regards the necessary basic analytic skills. The end of module essay tests the students' understanding of syntactic theory by asking them to apply their knowledge of the theory to a given syntactic problem.

Reading Lists