Young man in conversation with older man

Discourse analysis research

We're exploring how language represents ideas, concepts and people

Language is not neutral, but helps us make sense of our world. How we represent ideas, concepts and people through language is of interest to discourse analysts – and our research in discourse analysis explores how language is used in real-life contexts.

In response to increased concerns about student mental health and wellbeing in higher education, we're researching narratives of loneliness – based on student interviews – that can help us unpack the potential causes of these issues, and help educators to address them.

In online spaces, where misogynistic trolling of women is a growing issue, we're analysing the discourse of hate speech, and creating a database of online hate crime examples. With this data, we're developing diagnostic tools for the police and other bodies that could further their investigations and help to eradicate the problem.

Our discourse analysis research is regularly published in leading academic journals within the field, including Discourse & Society, Gender & Language, Discourse, Context & Media, Language & Literature, and Language & Discrimination.

Our research covers the following topics

  • Critical discourse analysis
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Mental health discourse
  • Translation studies
  • Systemic functional linguistics
  • Media discourse
  • Online discourse

Methods and memberships

Our researchers in discourse analysis use a range of qualitative and quantitative methods (often combining both for the purposes of triangulation), such as focus groups, interviews, close linguistic analysis using methods from systemic functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and “big data” approaches.

Many of our researchers in discourse analysis are members of the Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA), the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and the International Gender and Language Association (IGALA).

Their membership of these bodies enables our work to reach wider audiences, and opens up opportunities for research collaborations with other members at other institutions.

Publication highlights

Our members

Lee John Oakley Portrait

Dr Lee Oakley

Senior Lecturer

School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

Read more

Discover our areas of expertise

Discourse analysis is one of our six areas of expertise within our Linguistics research area. Explore the others below.

Corpus linguistics

We're looking at huge datasets of natural language – often many billions of words – to explore how language is used in different regions, genres and situations.

Two students at a seminar desk
Read more


We're exploring how texts are translated and the practices around the translation of texts, including professional training, the use of technologies, and non-professional translation communities.

Male translator in speaking into microphone
Read more

Professional communication

Our research in professional communication explores how spoken and written language is used in workplaces to develop relationships and achieve institutional objectives.

Smiling professional communication student seated at table
Read more


Through our work in sociolinguistics, we're studying the ways in which language can affect, and is affected, by social phenomena.

Researchers discuss sociolinguistics text
Read more

Teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL)

We're focusing on the learning and teaching of English as a second or foreign language, in primary, secondary and adult learning contexts.

Two women studying and speaking
Read more

Interested in a PhD in Languages and Linguistics?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Languages and Linguistics postgraduate research degrees page.