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Discourse analysis research

Explore our work in discourse analysis, one of our areas of expertise in linguistics

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.

And 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. And 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 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

Researchers in this area 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) – and 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

Discover our areas of expertise

Discourse analysis is 1 of our 6 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.

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Translation

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.

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Professional Communication

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

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Sociolinguistics

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

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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.

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Research groups

Language Across Borders Research Group

We're researching what happens as speakers and writers cross the boundaries of language systems or transgress the rules within them.

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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.