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Professor of English Language, University of Birmingham

I was born and brought up in Leeds and since then have lived in Singapore, the Philippines, Smethwick, Guildford and Birmingham. My first degree focused mainly on English Literature, but teaching English as a Second Language and English for Academic Purposes in my early career led to an increasing interest in how the English language works, and I pursued that interest in my MA and PhD.

Since 1983 I have taught Applied Linguistics and English Language as a degree subject at the National University of Singapore, the University of Surrey, and since 1986 at the University of Birmingham. I also had two years in the commercial world as a member of the Cobuild project.

Over the years I have taught various subject areas, including spoken and written Discourse Analysis, Pedagogic Grammar, the Language of Science and Corpus Linguistics.

I have supervised Doctoral Researchers in areas of Corpus Linguistics and Discourse Analysis for many years, but I am currently not considering applications from new students. If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in these areas, I would advise you to look at the web pages of my colleagues. For Corpus Linguistics, see Prof Michaela Mahlberg, Dr Nicholas Groom, and Dr Paul Thompson. For Critical Discourse Analysis see Dr Joe Bennett. For discourse studies, narrative and new media, see Dr Ruth Page and Prof Michael Toolan. For research relating to TESOL, see Dr Petra Schoofs, Dr Suganthi John and Dr Crayton Walker.

My research focuses on two areas: Corpus linguistics, especially the interface between lexis and grammar, phraseology, and the contribution of corpus linguistics to Applied Linguistics and to discourse studies; and Discourse Analysis, in particular the study of evaluative language and the analysis of written academic English.

My most recent monograph (Corpus Approaches to Evaluation: Phraseology and Evaluative Language) brings together these interests. I am now working with Dr Paul Thompson on the ESRC-funded 'Interdisciplinary Research Discourse' project (IDRD).


  • –present
    Professor of English Language, University of Birmingham