Syntax in the lab
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-REMA-LCEX32
Credits (ECTS)6
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; Linguistics;
dr. O.N.C.J. Koeneman
Other course modules lecturer
dr. O.N.C.J. Koeneman
Other course modules lecturer
dr. O.N.C.J. Koeneman
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. O.N.C.J. Koeneman
Other course modules lecturer
dr. P.J.F. de Swart
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2021
PER 3-PER 4  (31/01/2022 to 30/08/2022)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After this course, you will:
  • have a profound understanding of one specific debate in theoretical linguistics;
  • be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and understand their predictions;
  • understand which psycholinguistic means are available to test these predictions;
  • be able to contribute to setting up and running a new experiment;
  • be able to report on all relevant aspects of the experiment in a way that is appropriate within the field.
Syntacticians aim to discover what the underlying structure of sentences looks like. How do we combine words to form phrases and sentences, and how do we account for the difference between what a speaker considers grammatical and ungrammatical? By looking at linguistic data, theoreticians formulate explicit claims about what they think our mental representations of language look like.

As in any scientific debate, these claims are contested, with linguists disagreeing on the right theory. Sometimes the question is not so much which syntactic theory is correct but whether a syntactic theory is needed at all to explain a certain phenomenon. Maybe the difference between what is grammatical and what is not is explained much better by understanding the way in which we process language, or by taking into consideration the properties of our cognitive systems.  It can be very useful in these debates to see if we can run psycholinguistic experiments in order to decide which approach makes the best predictions.
In this course, you will have a detailed look at one current debate and see how experiments in the lab have been used to advance our knowledge. In the second half of the course, we will together design a new experiment. As a student, you will thereby obtain hands-on experience with (parts of) the empirical cycle: formulating a hypothesis, designing materials, testing participants, analysing & interpreting the data, and documenting the process.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Assumed previous knowledge
Note for exchange students: you cannot take this course if your English proficiency level is not at least C1 (TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC or Cambridge). A statement from your home university won't be accepted.

Required materials
Articles will be provided.

Instructional modes

Oral Exam
Test weight50
Test typeOral exam
OpportunitiesBlock PER 3, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

Research Report
Test weight50
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade