SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Structure of the Korean Language (PG)

Module Code:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

The aim of this module is to provide students taking MA degree in Korean Studies with a clear understanding of the structure of the Korean language. Students who take the module will be expected to develop advanced analytical skills in the understanding of the grammar and the linguistic structure of the Korean language. Students who complete the course will be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the various issues related to contemporary Korean linguistics.

The topics covered will range from phonetics, phonology, parts of speech, word-formation, morphology, phrase structure, syntax, honorifics and politeness and grammatical constructions. This course will also cover some topics in Korean language pedagogy.

Each class will consist of a combination of a lecture followed by a discussion of the theme.  If necessary students will have an opportunity to give a presentation on topics they are interested in.  At the end of the module the students will be expected to write an essay in English on a topic of their choice, using Korean-language materials.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. understand grammatical structure of the Korean language
  2. understand and engage with a range of linguistic issues in the Korean language
  3. find and select appropriate Korean-language texts from a variety of sources
  4. develop a critical view on various issues in Korean linguistics and Korean language pedagogy
  5. make use of appropriate Korean-language sources in Korean linguistics to answer a research question and formulate an argument in an English-language essay


A total of 20 weeks teaching with 2.5 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 2 hour lecture and 0.5 hours tutorial.

Scope and syllabus

Introductory week 1 class: Introduction

Themes for remaining weeks:

2.         Phonetics and Phonology

3.         Words and Parts of Speech,

4.         Word Formation

5.         Phrase Structure

6.         Syntax

7.         Honorifics and Speech Styles

8.         Korean Grammatical Constructions

9.         Comparative studies on Korean-Japanese Morpho-syntax

10.        Topics in Korean Language Teaching

Method of assessment

One two-hour written paper taken in May/June (60%); a essay of 3,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1 term 3 (30%); a 20 minute presentation on a selected topic (10%).

Suggested reading

Core Readings

  • Lee, Iksop. & Robert Ramsey. 2000. The Korean Language. State University of New York Press.
  • Brown, Lucien. & Jaehoon Yeon. (eds.) 2015. The Handbook of Korean Linguistics. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Yeon, Jaehoon. 2003. Korean Grammatical Constructions: Their Form and Meaning.  Saffron Korean linguistics Series

Additional Readings

  • Brown, Lucien. 2011. Korean Honorifics and Politeness in Second Language Learning. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Chang, Suk-Jin. 1996. Korean. 1996. London Oriental and African Language Library. John Benjamins Publishing Co.
  • Comrie, Bernard. 1989. Language universals and linguistic typology. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Fromkin, Victoria. & Robert Rodman. 1983. (3rd edition). An Introduction to Language. New York, London.
  • Horie, Kaoru. 2005. A comparative typological account of Japanese and Korean   Morpho-syntactic contrasts. In: J. Yeon (2005)
  • Sohn, Ho-min. 1994. The Korean Language. CUP
  • -----------------. 2006. Korean Language in Culture and Society. University of Hawaii Press.
  • Song, Jae Jung. 2005. The Korean Language: Structure, use and context. Routledge: London and New York.
  • Yeon, Jaehoon. (ed.) 2005. Studies in Korean morpho-syntax: A Functional-typological perspective. Saffron Books. London.
  • Yeon, Jaehoon, and Lucien Brown. 2011. Korean: A Comprehensive Grammar. London. Routledge.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules