SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Introduction to Grammatical Structure

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

This module provides a basic introduction to grammatical analysis, developing the tools to enable students to think analytically and formally about the structure of a language.



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

In this module, we examine a wide range of core topics from different grammatical systems of the world's languages, including word/phrase order, constituency, case systems, agreement, argument structure, grammatical relations etc. The module is based on data from many languages, including English. We focus on the way in which data leads to questions, which lead to answers, which lead to further questions. We assume no prior knowledge of theoretical linguistics.

By the end of the module students will:

  • have gained an insight into grammatical analysis and of appropriate tools and methods used
  • have developed an understanding of a range of core phenomena in grammatical systems.


1 x 2 hr lecture and 1 x 1hr tutorial per week for 20 weeks, plus 2 x 2hr revision classes in the summer term.

Scope and syllabus

Introduction to Grammatical Structure gives students a sound foundation on syntax and grammatical analysis preparing them for more detailed syntactic analysis of the world's languages.  

Method of assessment

One 3-hour written examination (80%) – to be taken in May/June.  Coursework: 4 assignments (20% in total) – two to be submitted per term.

Data analysis exercises throughout the course.

Suggested reading

The core textbooks are the following:

  • Tallerman, M. (2014) (4th edition) Understanding Syntax, Hodder Arnold
  • Kroeger, P. (2005) Analyzing Grammar: an introduction. CUP.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules