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Processing Syntax and Semantics


Admission requirements

Students must have registered for Psycholinguïstiek, Neurolinguïstiek, Semantiek 1 and Syntaxis 1. Although not mandatory, it is very helpful if students have taken Experimental Methods I, and Statistiek voor taalkundig onderzoek in the past.


In this course we review the classic literature on syntactic and semantic processing with a focus on different parsing theories and experimental work from the past 40 years, covering among others issues such as ambiguity resolution and garden-path, locality, plausibility, frequency and working memory effects.
During the first block of the course, we introduce the concept of parsing and discuss essential psycholinguistic models up to current ones. In the second block of the course, we discuss the processing of syntactic phenomena (such as long-distance dependencies and binding), phenomena at the syntax-semantics interface (such as negative polarity item(s) licensing) and phenomena at the syntax-prosody interface (such as processing of wh-in-situ questions).

Course objectives

  • Students acquire basic background knowledge on the classic literature and theories on (syntactic and semantic) sentence processing.

  • Students are able to analyze and compare different parsing models.

  • Students are able to recognize different psycholinguisitics and neurolinguitic methods applied to sentence processing.

  • Students develop critical thinking about the literature covered in the lectures and in the assignments.

  • Students are able to formulate a research question on sentence processing and to generate an
    original experiment proposal or a proposal of an experiment that critically extends previous experimental work.


Linguistics (BA)

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Lectures: 26 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 40 hours

  • Assignment(s): 38 hours

  • Preparation final paper: 36 hours

Assessment method

Please note that the information you provide here is legally binding. You cannot change the assessment method after 1 August 2019. The information in the e-prospectus is leading.


Students will get their total grade (5 ECs) out of the following combination: (i) 40% of the grade will be based on bi-weekly summaries and exercises connected to articles whose topics will be discussed during the course program. (ii) 60% of the grade will be based on a research paper to be produced at the end of the course.
Bi-weekly assignments are mandatory and a prerequisite to hand-in the research paper.


The final grade will be a weighted average of the bi-weekly assignments (40%) and the final research paper (60%). Completion of all the assignments is mandatory and a pre-requisite to be eligible for the submission of the final research paper.


The resit will consist of rewriting the paper that the student submitted for the course based on the feedback from the Instructor.

inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • specifying the materials and readings to be discussed during the lectures

  • specifying guidelines about reading summaries and other assignment types

  • uploading class material

  • uploading additional resources

Reading list

Selected Chapters and articles from different sources will be listed weekly in Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on this website


Letitia Pablos Robles

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats

E-mail address Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies