UCL Module Catalogue


Introduction To Generative Grammar A (PLIN0003)

Key information

Faculty of Brain Sciences
Teaching department
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
Credit value

Alternative credit options

There are no alternative credit options available for this module.


This module is an introduction to the formal study of the syntax of natural language. It introduces students to some of the basic descriptive problems and theoretical tools of modern syntactic theory. It introduces students to the broad questions driving research in generative syntax. It familiarizes students with the scientific process. Teaching is delivered as a mix of lectures (30 hours) and tutorials (15 hours) and student learning rests on problem sets solved in groups (two per week).

The module aims to convey a basic understanding of core descriptive tools and theoretical insights of formal syntactic theory through a process of problem solving. It aims to develop the reasoning skills necessary to apply these tools and insights correctly to novel sentence types. It aims to foster an attitude of critical curiosity needed to appreciate, critique, defend, and develop proposals of an abstract, theoretical nature.

By the end of the module students will have solved problem sets concerning the structure of simple and complex clauses, noun phrases, the auxiliary system, subject-auxiliary inversion, and wh-movement in English. They will be  familiar with the following descriptive terminology and analytic tools of syntactic theory: word classes and grammatical categories, subcategorization, constituent structure, tree diagrams, structural ambiguity, thematic roles, grammatical function, control, raising, movement, syntactic rule. Students will be able to analyze simple sentences from English and other languages correctly bringing to bear the tools and theories mentioned above.

Students will be able to defend their analyses by bringing diagnostic tools to bear directly and indirectly on the analysis. Students will have gained an understanding of the process of developing and defending abstract syntactic theories and will have begun developing a curious and critical stance towards novel data and theoretical claims.


Module deliveries for 2020/21 academic year

Intended teaching term: Term 1     Undergraduate (FHEQ Level 4)

Teaching and assessment

Mode of study
Methods of assessment
50% Weekly exercises
50% Final Coursework
Mark scheme
Numeric Marks

Other information

Number of students on module in previous year
Module leader
Dr Klaus Abels
Who to contact for more information

Last updated

This module description was last updated on 5th March 2020.