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Module QXL-1117:
Intro to Morphology & Syntax

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Christopher Shank

Overall aims and purpose

The purpose of this module is to provide students with the core descriptive terminology and with some of the analytical tools and diagramming techniques that are used in the investigation of morphology (the structure of words) and syntax (the structure of sentences). The module will adopt a consensual approach; it will build upon the proposed list of grammatical terminology recommended by the Linguistics Association of Great Britain for use in schools. However, it will also make students aware of some of the main theoretical differences that currently underlie studies of morphology and syntax. The language used for the purposes of exemplification in this module will primarily be English; however other languages, such as Welsh, will also be referred to in practice data sets and examples.

- To lead students to an introductory level understanding of the main topics and terminology traditionally contained and/or discussed in the fields of morphology and syntax.
- To have students identify and explain general morphological and syntactical terms and concepts.
- To encourage students to think creatively and critically about terms, terminology, and theoretical frameworks and questions raised in the domains of morphology and syntax.
- To familiarise students with relevant introductory literature in the fields of morphology and syntax.
- To give students an opportunity to acquire and practise using research, analytical and problem solving skills appropriate to these fields of study.
- To improve the students' general ability to observe, recognise and describe facts about the grammar and use of English with respect to morphological and syntactical process and categorization(s).

Course content

The module will be split between the study of syntax and the study or morphology:
1. Morphemes: the parts of a word.
2. Types of affix and affix ordering.
3. The productivity of affixation.
4. Word-formation without affixes.
5. Compounding.
6. Syntactic classification: Parts of Speech and functional relations.
7. Syntactic structure and Immediate Constituent Analysis.
8. Recursion and the generation of syntactic structure.
9. Heads and their dependents.
10. Syntactic relations within the sentence.
11. Relations between sentence types.

Assessment Criteria


Student has achieved the minimum acceptable standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all the learning outcomes. Student can demonstrate a minimum level of understanding of the basic concepts and be able to apply them to data with some degree of accuracy.


Student has achieved a better-than-average standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes, and has a clear and accurate understanding of concepts; ability to apply concepts to data critically and thoughtfully; evidence of wide reading and clear and accurate reference to source materials; free from misunderstanding and errors of content; free from irrelevant material.


Student has achieved a thorough standard of understanding and/or knowledge in all learning outcomes; or student has demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in one or more learning outcomes together with a good overall standard: student has achieved a thorough understanding of the subject, both in terms of content and theory; student is able to apply concepts clearly and accurately; substantial evidence of critical and original thought and analysis; clear, logical argument; high level of communicative competence; free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation; evidence of extensive reading beyond basic texts and clear and accurate references to source material.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will know the basic terminology, concepts and techniques used on the analysis of morphology and syntax.

  2. Students will understand a range of phenomena studied in the fields of morphology and syntax

  3. Students will be able to analyse basic morphological and syntactic data

  4. Students will be aware of some of the different theoretical approaches used in the study of morphology and syntax.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Morphology Assignment 20
Syntax Assignment 20
Take-home exam 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 2 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.


Students are encouraged to see the lecturer on a one-to-one basis during published office hours (or by appointment) to discuss issues with the module content, seek clarification on topics and discussions, and discuss feedback on assessments and class exercises.


One 1-hour seminar per month, with with additional exercises to be done in the students' own time.

Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do further reading, go through materials covered in class and do further research on the topics, and prepare assignments.


One 2-hour lecture per fortnight over the two semesters. Lectures will include in-class discussion of practical applications of the materials considered in this module.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team

Subject specific skills

  • Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies.
  • Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse, interpret data accurately, and draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
  • Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
  • Fluency, confidence and proficiency in the use of English -students will demonstrate their ability and proficiency to use and understand and instruct others in English in a range of academic and classroom contexts.
  • Effective communication - students will develop the ability to communicate effectively, appropriately and confidently, in a range of contexts, to different audience types, and making use of a range of supporting materials
  • Learning to learn - students will learn to reflect, modify and improve their learning strategies
  • Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Proficiency in the use of English in reading, writing, speaking and/or listening - students will demonstrate proficiency in their ability to use and understand English in a range of different contexts and via different media.
  • Understanding of the nature and organization of language - students will demonstrate familiarity with observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
  • Knowledge of the nature of language origins, change and use - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of language origins, the way language changes, and factors involved in and affecting language use.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Pre-requisite of:

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: