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Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Cassandra Chapman


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 629

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24388

Office Hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30, Thursdays 9:30-10:30 (TSH 609)

Course Objectives:

1. understand syntax as the scientific study of sentence structure;
2. apply tools from generative syntax to analyze sentence structure in English and other languages; and
3. evaluate and critique theories about mental grammar as they apply to sentence structure in English and other languages.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required: Carnie, Andrew. 2012. Syntax: A Generative Introduction. Third edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

Optional (but highly recommended): Carnie, Andrew. 2012. The Syntax Workbook: A Companion to Carnie’s Syntax. Wiley-Blackwell.

Note that there is also a second edition of the textbook in wide distribution. If you choose to use the second edition, please ensure that you check with a classmate that the problem sets are the same. Page numbers and question numbers have changed between editions and you are responsible for ensuring that you are completing the assigned work.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Due Date Weight
Problem sets September 16, September 30, October 7,
October 28, November 9, November 30


(grade is calculated on
best five out of six)

Test 1 (45 minutes) October 19 15%
Test 2 (45 minutes) November 18 20%
Final exam TBD by registrar 30%

How work is to be submitted:

All problem sets must be submitted through Dropbox on Avenue to Learn by the due date in PDF format. Work that is not submitted in PDF format will not be accepted. Late submissions will not be accepted and will result in a grade of zero (0).

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late work:
Late work will not be accepted and students will receive a grade of 0.

Missed work:
Students can submit a McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) for up to one (1) missed problem set or test over the term. If the instructor receives an MSAF for a missed problem set, the problem set’s grade will not be included in the final course grade. If the student submits an MSAF for a missed test, the value of the test will be added to the value of the final exam. It is the student’s responsibility to use the MSAF tool and to follow up with the instructor as soon as possible after the form has been submitted. Note that MSAFs cannot be submitted during the final exam period and thus, cannot be used for the final exam.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Date Topic Reading Due
September 9 Introduction and Review Chapter 1 Problem set 1 assigned
September 14 Parts of Speech Chapter 2  
September 16 Constituency Chapter 3 Problem set 1 due
September 21 Stuctural Relations Chapter 4  
September 23 X-bar theory
Guest lecturer
Chapter 6 Problem set 2 assigned
September 28 NO CLASS None  
September 30 Binding Theory
Guest lecturer
Chapter 5 Problem set 2 due,
Problem set 3 assigned
October 5 Binding Theory cont. Chapter 5 cont.  
October 7 Extending X-bar theory Chapter 7 Problem set 3 due
October 12-14 MIDTERM RECESS (NO CLASS)    
October 19 Test 1 None Test to be completed within class hours (45 minutes)
October 21 Theta Theory Chapter 8 Problem set 4 assigned
October 26 Theta Theory cont. Chapter 8 cont.  
October 28 Auxiliaries and Functional Categories Chapter 9 Problem set 4 due
November 2 Auxiliaries and Functional Categories cont. Chapter 9 cont. Problem set 5 assigned
November 4 Head movement Chapter 10  
November 9 Head movement cont. Chapter 10 cont. Problem set 5 due
November 11 DP movement Chapter 11  
November 16 DP movement cont. Chapter 11 cont.  
November 18 Test 2 None Test to be completed within the first 45 minutes of class, followed by a short lecture
November 23 Wh-movement Chapter 12 Problem set 6 assigned
November 25 Wh-movement cont. Chapter 12 cont.  
November 30 Advanced topic Class vote: topics in Chapters 13-16 Problem set 6 due
December 2   Class vote: topics in Chapters 13-16  
December 7 Wrap-up and review None  


Other Course Information:

In this course, we will be using Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that when they access their electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster email accounts and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.