MA Linguistics

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Topics in Romance Linguistics

Unit code LELA62001
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit introduces students to the typology and classification of the Romance languages and to their principal grammatical structures. Particular emphasis is placed on smaller and lesser-known Romance languages, their relation to a major Romance language, their distinct structural properties, and their sociolinguistic and political status. Students are expected to conduct independent research on a smaller or lesser-known Romance language, investigating, on the one hand, its socio-political status and, on the other hand, one feature of its grammar or a cluster of such features. Students will develop a critical understanding of the principal typological properties of Romance and of the relationship between the major and smaller Romance languages. Students will also become familiar with issues in linguistic identity, language documentation and description, and dialectology.


Pre-requisite units

None. Students must be able to read at least one Romance language fluently to take this course.



The principal aims of the course unit are as follows:

·                To introduce the students to the structures of the Romance languages in a typological perspective.

·                To enhance the students’ awareness of the relatedness of the Romance languages.

·                To enhance the students’ awareness of the subgroupings which are part of the Romance family.

·                To introduce the students to the socio-political contexts in which the Romance languages are spoken.

·                To stimulate the students’ interest in the smaller and lesser known Romance languages, their structures and their sociolinguistic status.

             ·                To introduce the students to issues in linguistic identity, language documentation and description, and                  dialectology.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Know which languages constitute the Romance family, and how they are related in diachronic, typological and socio-political terms.
  • Know the major typological properties of the Romance language family and its internal subgroupings.
  • Investigate and discuss the structures and the sociolinguistic status of at least one lesser-known Romance language.


Week 1.

Introduction to the course unit. Origins and distribution of the Romance languages, periodization.

Week 2.

Groupings and classifications. Standards and diasystems.

Week 3.

The words of the Romance languages. Word formation. Onomasiological and semasiological approach.

Week 4.

Romance in European and typological perspective.

Week 5.

Romance in typological perspective: the North-South divide.

Week 6

Reading week: no classes

Week  7

The Romance languages outside of Europe.

Week 8.

The packaging of information. Discourse Structure and syntax.

Week 9.

Tense and aspect.

Week 10.

Subject and object.

Week 11.

Copular and existential constructions.

Week 12


Teaching and learning methods

·         Three weekly hours in the class for 11 weeks.

·         Two consultation hours per week.

·         Further consultation on demand.

·         Blackboard discussion forum to facilitate debate.

·         Useful web links and revision materials made available on Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand the typological issues which arose in the transition from Latin to Romance and how they are resolved in synchrony.
  • Describe the socio-political status and the grammatical structures of an under-represented language.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Engage in independent reflection and enquiry.
  • Engage in the discussion and critical evaluation of theories in Romance linguistics.
  • Use empirical evidence to support synthetic conclusions and interpretations.
  • Analyse a body of data and provide a synthesis of the most relevant findings.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Extrapolate patterns from complex data sets.
  • Apply skills of analysis and synthesis to practical issues and problems.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

·         Engage in independent reflection and enquiry.

·         Analyse data and provide a synthesis of the findings.

·         Deliver an oral presentation in a formal setting.

·         Write a report on a piece of original research.

·         Engage in group discussion (both in the class and online).

·         Work as part of a team.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 75%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Feedback methods

·         Written feedback on presentation.

·         Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hours or by appointment).

·         Global feedback on test on Blackboard.

·         Written feedback on report.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 117

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Delia Bentley Unit coordinator

Additional notes



The course will have particular benefits for any student interested in pursuing a career in teaching and learning, diversity and identity management, and qualitative data analysis. The course enhances skills of analysis, synthesis, oral presentation, and written reporting. The course content also encourages students to reflect upon the world outside the University, thereby providing confidence in the use of academic research in a variety of non-academic environments.

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