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BA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
The Grammar of English Noun Phrases

Unit code LELA31001
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What is this course about?

  • Taking a different approach to English grammar
    • Descriptive rather than theoretical
    • Bottom-up rather than top-down
    • Usage-based
  • Becoming a descriptive linguist
    • Look at real-language data (usage) with an open mind
    • Read different theories/analyses and evaluate them on the basis of data
    • Construct the most accurate model and come up with a revised analysis
  • And becoming an expert on English noun phrases!


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
LELA10041 Pre-Requisite Optional
LELA10122 Pre-Requisite Optional

Prerequisite: LELA10301 (English Word and Sentence Structure) or LELA10041 (Introducing English Grammar)


The aims of the unit are:

  • To examine one area of English Grammar in greater depth, and work towards fine-grained levels of grammatical description.
  • to evaluate existing grammatical descriptions against the variety and flexibility of actual language use.


Introduction to using the British National Corpus (first 5 weeks)

Lecture/seminar topics:

  • NPs and NP structure
  • Types of nouns
  • Types of nouns
  • Determiners
  • Quantification
  • Premodifiers
  • Postmodifiers
  • Genitives
  • Pronouns
  • Fused heads
  • Intensification

Teaching and learning methods

Total of 33 contract hours divided over

  • 11 weekly two-hour block of lecture + seminar
  • 5 one-hour tutorials (week 1-5) preparing you for the final project
  • 1 presentation 'day' in week 11

Knowledge and understanding

Students will

  • acquire a detailed knowledge of the categories involved in the construction of English noun phrases.
  • have read grammatical descriptions of various levels of difficulty concerning nominal categories in English and be able to critically evaluate them.
  • be able to undertake a basic corpus-based analysis using the British National Corpus.

Intellectual skills

Students will:

  • develop skills of problem-solving, building an analysis on the basis of corpus-based data, critically assessing and comparing different descriptions, constructing and refining an argument defending their analysis.
  • develop skills in interpreting and synthesising information.

Practical skills

Students will:

  • be able to analyze noun phrases and describe nominal categories, using the descriptive methods developed in the course.
  • have learned to perform corpus searches and apply basic qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will:

  • develop skills of successful self-directed study and learning, with appropriate time management.
  • develop their report writing skills.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Seminar exercises (for discussion, not handed in)


1-2 hrs per week


Exam on lecture/seminar material


1 hour 30 minutes


Original research project: descriptive corpus-based study of a NP-related phenomenon carried out in groups of up to 3 students or individually, assessed by a:




presentation (week 11)

Formative and Summative

15 mins + 5 mins question time


final project report (to be submitted in week 12)


3000 words



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Feedback on weekly seminar exercises available in class.


Surgery on individual/group project design and corpus search (week 6)


Individual/group project surgeries  (week 10)


BB feedback on presentation (week 12)



Turnitin feedback on project report  (within standard feedback period)


Feedback on exam (generic BB feedback, within standard feedback period, on questions with specific answers)



Recommended reading

Recommended texts

  • Payne, John & Rodney Huddleston. 2002. Nouns and noun phrases. Chapter 5 of Rodney Huddleston & Geoffrey K. Pullum et al. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bache, Carl. 2000. Essentials of Mastering English: A Concise Grammar. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 5
Seminars 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 165.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tine Breban Unit coordinator

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