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MA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Minimalist Syntax

Unit code LELA70971
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course introduces students who have been previously exposed to syntactic analysis to Chomsky’s Minimalist Programme for linguistic theory. This will be accomplished in a hands-on fashion through theoretical as well as empirical discussion of a range of syntactic phenomena.


A sound introductory course unit into syntax


The course has two main aims: first, to provide an extensive introduction to the theoretical and substantive considerations on the language faculty that led Chomsky to develop this major line of inquiry inside the generative grammar framework; second, to provide the students with the methodological considerations and technical mechanisms necessary to both understand and carry out a minimalist analysis of syntactic structures

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be familiar with the main features, both theoretical and technical, of Chomsky’s Minimalist Programme for linguistic theory, how the syntactic computational component operates within this model of grammar, and the methods and solutions to specific syntactic phenomena developed within this framework.

Teaching and learning methods

Contact hours: 12 x 2-hour weekly lectures
2 x 3-hour tutorials (weeks 7 & 11)

Knowledge and understanding

Through the study of the recent developments inside a specific framework, the students will be able to reflect on the points of stability and on the change-triggering needs that characterize the natural evolution of a scientific theory. The students will also learn to recognize and compare common properties and distinguishing features of different environments, to apply the technical tools learned in class to specific contexts, and to evaluate proposals in current generative theory.

Intellectual skills

Among the cognitive skills that the students should acquire are those relating to data-analysis, critical reflection, problem-posing as well as problem-solving and reasoned argumentation.

Practical skills

Data analysis through a variety of empirical problems and presentation.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

During the tutorials the students will also develop their presentational, problem-solving and analytical skills through a series of tasks and exercises.

Assessment methods

Essay - 3,000 words - 80%

(Group) project presentation (+handout/prezi/.ppt) - 20 minutes + 5 for questions - 20%

Feedback methods

Global feedback on the assignments and on the exercises delivered in class or posted to Blackboard. The exercises will be of the same format as those in the exam. During the lectures and the tutorials, detailed comments and practical tips will be offered to the students.

Recommended reading

Adger, David (2003). Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boeckx, Cedric (2006). Linguistic Minimalism, Origins, Concepts, Methods, and Aims. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Haegeman, Liliane (2006). Thinking syntactically: A guide to argumentation and analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

Radford, Andrew (2016). Analysing English Sentences. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sportiche, Koopman, and Stabler (2013). An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Julio Villa-Garcia Unit coordinator

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