SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Approaches to Syntax

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

This module provides a general introduction to syntactic structure and theory focusing on the principles of generative grammar and syntactic analysis. At the same time different concepts in the study of morphology are introduced and its place within linguistic theory and connection to syntax is discussed.

Building on the principles and methodology introduced in the year 1 module Sound, meaning and grammar, the focus is on the introduction and investigation of particular linguistic phenomena cross-linguistically. The module therefore has a strong empirical component, using data from languages other than English, and considers a variety of constructions from a cross-linguistic perspective.

The module also addresses some of the similarities and differences between different approaches to syntactic theory and how these are related to morphology.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  1. Show familiarity with a range of core phenomena and constructions which have been important in the development of syntactic theory
  2. Show familiarity with the ideas and principles of formal syntax
  3. Apply syntactic analysis to a range of languages
  4. Show familiarity with different types of morphology and how it is used across languages
  5. Apply morphological analysis to a range of languages
  6. Demonstrate understanding of how morphology interacts with other components of language
  7. Apply critical thinking to different analyses and models of grammar
  8. Discuss the merits and weaknesses of different analyses and models of grammar.


1 hour Lecture and 1 hour Tutorial, per week.

Scope and syllabus

This module introduces different linguistic phenomena from a wider perspective without being confined only to a particular theory or approach. Students will be able to critically analyse and contrast different approaches and analyse different phenomena cross-linguistically.

Particular focus in this module will be on describing and analyzing a number of important syntactic phenomena. Examples of such phenomena that will typically be covered include the following:

applicative and causative constructions,
control and raising,
filler-gap relations,
serial verb constructions,
quirky subjects and objects,

At the same there will be a strong morphological component and the relation of morphology to all the above constructions will be made clear.

Method of assessment

  • 40% - Data analysis exercise, 2000 words due Term 1
  • 60% - Essay, 3000 words due Term 2
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

Carnie, Andrew. 2007. Syntax. A Generative Introduction. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Kroeger, Paul. 2004. Analysing Syntax. A Lexical-Functional Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules