BA Film Studies and English Language

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
English Word and Sentence Structure

Unit code LELA10301
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit introduces students to the grammar of English words and sentences. We start by discussing the building blocks of words and the rules that are applied in the formation of English words. We draw a distinction between two processes which are involved in the formation of English words: inflection and derivation. The study of derivation allows us to discuss word families. We then consider theprincipal parts of speech, or lexical categories (noun, adjective, verb, adverb and preposition), with focus on their coding and behaviour in the English language. We then move on to compounds and we introduce the notion of head. After reading week, we learn to break down English clauses into meaningful units or constituents. This gives us an opportunity to return to lexical categories and to study the types of phrase which are built upon the major categories (noun phrase, adjective phrase, verb phrase, prepositional phrase). Subsequently, we introduce the difference between categories and functions. The study of the functions subject and object leads us to draw a distinction between active and passive voice. Finally, we discuss the different types of clause (main and subordinate) and we consider how clauses join together to form different types of sentences.


This course assumes no previous knowledge of English grammar. Students mustbe able to read academic English to take this course.


The aim of this course unit is to introduce students to structural and functional properties of English words and sentences. Upon successful completion of the course unit students will have an understanding of the foundations of morphology and syntax as applied to the study of the English language

Knowledge and understanding

Upon successful completion of the course unit students will have an understanding of the foundations of morphology and syntax as applied to the study of the English language. They will have an appreciation of:
(a) the notions of word, morpheme, affix, root, derivation, inflection, head and compounding;
(b) the difference between categories and functions;
(c) a number of lexical categories and syntactic functions;
(d) constituency;
(e) main and subordinate clauses;
(f) voice;
(g) sentence types.

Intellectual skills

Students will acquire familiarity with linguistic argumentation. They will develop skills in problem-solving, constructing and refining an argument, recognising flaws in arguments, and assessing the merits of contrasting explanations, demonstrating problem-solving and data-gathering skills.

Practical skills

Students will enhance their competence in English grammar and their ability (a) to express themselves in a concise and clear manner and (b) to provide cogent evidence in support of an argument.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students should develop the skills required for successful self-directed study and learning, as well as appropriate time management skills. In the tutorials students will practise their team-working skills.

Assessment methods

Essay 40%
Multiple-choice exam or online test  60%


Feedback methods

Feedback method Formative or Summative
In class feedback on tutorial exercises Formative
Online feedback on mid-semester essay Formative and summative
Face-to-face feedback on exam (if requested by individual students) Summative


Recommended reading

  • Aronoff, Mark and Fudeman, Kirsten Anne. 2005. What is morphology? Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Borjars, Kersti and Burridge, Kate. 2010 [2001] Introducing English Grammar. London: Arnold. (Set text for syntax component of the course unit).
  • Carstairs-McCarthy, Andrew. 2002. An Introduction to English Morphology. Words and Their Structure. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. (Set text for morphology component of the course unit).
  • Coates, Richard. 1999. Word Structure. London: Routledge.
  • Fábregas, Antonio and Scalise, Sergio. 2012. Morphology. From Data to Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Haspelmath, Martin. 2002. Understanding Morphology. London: Arnold.
  • Lieber, Rochelle. 2010. Introducing Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Payne, T. 1997.Describing Morphosyntax. Cambridge University Press.
  • Stump, Gregory. 1998. Inflection. In Andrew Spencer and Arnold M. Zwicky (eds). The Handbook of Morphology. Oxford; Blackwell, pp. 13-33.
  • Tallerman, M. 2005. Understanding syntax. Hodder Arnold. 2nd edition.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 166.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Delia Bentley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Enrolment procedure: Students must submit their dissertation topic proposal form to the discipline area Undergraduate Support Officer in June preceding the academic year in which they want to start work on their dissertation (normally the second year). It is expected that students will have already thought about a potential topic before beginning the course module. Only students who average at least 60% in their second year will be allowed to register for a dissertation (special provisions will be made for students who take first sits during the August resit period). Students are allowed to submit a first and reserve proposal, which must be clearly marked as such. Students have to specify a potential supervisor for each proposal. Each member of staff provides a list of areas in which they are willing to supervise. The course convenor will coordinate distribution of proposalsand allocation of supervisors. Staff consider the proposals they have received, and decide which of them they wish to accept, interviewing students if necessary. Students whose dissertation proposals are rejected will have to register for other course units.

In cases in which a supervisor has more than one student, there may be a group-work component to the course unit. Any such groups will normally be 3-6 students, who may meet to discuss research findings and review each other's work, under the guidance of their supervisor. Additionally, students will have one to one meetings with their supervisor.

Supervision by a member of staff as appropriate.

Return to course details