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

The course will provide an introduction to basic concepts of syntax and generative grammar, and a characterisation of the principles, goals and modules of the Government and Binding framework.



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This course is intended to provide a basic introduction to grammatical analysis, developing the tools to enable students to think analytically and formally about the structure of a language. In particular, we focus on the way in which data leads to questions, which lead to answers, which lead to further questions, and so on.  

We examine a wide range of core topics from the different grammatical systems of the world's languages, including word order, constituency, case, agreement, tense, gender, argument structure, grammatical relations. The course will be based primarily on data from many languages, including English. We assume no prior knowledge of theoretical linguistics.  

By the end of the course students will: 

  • have gained some insight into grammatical analysis and of appropriate tools and methods used 
  • have developed some 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 reading list for this course will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules