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BA English Language and French

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Theory of Grammar

Unit code LELA20021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course shows students the value of using a theoretical framework to analyse the grammar of a language. Empirically, the course is based on a set of morpho-syntactic phenomena that any theoretical model worth its salt should be able to deal with. The data comes mainly from English, but some phenomena require data from other languages. We consider how more abstract generalizations can be made over the data and how these generalisations can be captured with the formal tools of Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG).


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
English Word and Sentence Structure LELA10301 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The principal aims of the course unit are as follows:

  • to introduce students to language data that illustrate some central properties of morpho-syntax;
  • to introduce the students to the basic principles and formal tools of Lexical-Functional Grammar;
  • to show the students how to apply the tools of Lexical-Functional Grammar to the data sets in order to capture generalisations;
  • to give students a sense of what can be gained by constructing an abstract model for a complex dataset.

Learning outcomes



  • dimensions of linguistic information
  • c(onstituent)-structure and m(orphological)-structure (with a focus on clauses and noun phrases)
  • f(unctional)-structure
  • mapping between c- and f-structure
  • agreement and pronoun incorporation
  • a(rgument)-structure
  • mapping between a- and f-structure (including argument changing operations)
  • functional and anaphoric control
  • binding
  • long-distance dependencies

Teaching and learning methods

  • two 50 minute lectures per week, mainly to present new material, but sometimes practical examples on material already introduced will be worked through
  • one weekly 50 minute tutorial, for which a work sheet has to be submitted
  • discussion board and two online quizzes on Blackboard

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will:

  • understand the crucial properties of a core set of morpho-syntactic data;
  • understand how morphology and syntax can contribute together or separately to identify grammatical functions and feature
  • understand the basic principles of Lexical-Functional Grammar;
  • apply the tools of Lexical-Functional Grammar to the data sets.

Intellectual skills

 By the end of this course students will:

  • make generalisations over complex data sets;
  • acquire abstract concepts;
  • understand the value of constructing an abstract model for a complex dataset;
  • understand that if they read a complex argument a second time, they understand it better than the first time they read it.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will:

  • manipulate the tools of a formal system;
  • analyse unfamiliar language data and detect patterns;
  • understand that if they read a complex argument a second time, they understand it better than the first time they read it.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

All intellectual and practical skills listed above are transferrable. Personal skills that will be developed include independence, perseverance and the confidence to trust your own intelligence. 

Employability skills

All skills listed can help students enter a suitable career and progress through it at an appropriate rate.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or summative


Weighting within unit

(if summative)



2.5 hours


Tutorial assignments

formative and summative

a student would normally be expected to spend about 3 hours preparing for each tutorial





Assessment task



3 hours


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or summative

Discussion board on Blackboard


Oral feedback through tutorial discussions


Global feedback on online quiz and a discussion of the sample exam in the final lecture


Individual meeting with lecturer on request


Feedback on exam on request

formative and summative


Recommended reading

Obligatory reading: dedicated course text (available for free both in hard copy and electronically)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2.5
Lectures 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 164.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kersti Borjars Unit coordinator

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