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Professional communication research

We're investigating spoken and written language in the workplace

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

There's a growing need for professionals in the workplace to exchange information and build relationships quickly, despite differences in languages and culture – and our research is identifying ways to build these communication skills and implement them effectively.

The results of our work can have a positive impact in the lives of people, professionals and society. For example, we're researching the type of language that helps build positive relationships when working in teams. We're also exploring issues such as how doctors can encourage patients to follow specific procedures, or how written product information can be made clearer for consumers.

Our staff are members of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, and the Materials Development Association. They have expertise in materials evaluation and writing, technical communication and intercultural communication.

Our research covers the following topics

  • Learning materials evaluation
  • Language needs analysis
  • Language for specific purposes
  • Discourse analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Pragmatics
  • Technical communication
  • Intercultural communication


Our researchers in professional communication use quantitative research methods, such as corpus analytics, to develop lexical profiles for professional documents.

We also make use of qualitative research techniques, including discourse analysis and grounded theory, to examine face-to-face interactions in healthcare settings.

Publication highlights

Our work is regularly published by leading academic journals and presented at industry conferences, including MATSDA (Materials Development Association Conference), and COMET Conference on Communication, Medicine and Ethics.

Our members

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Dr Marie McCullagh

Senior Lecturer

School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Peter Aaron Watkins Portrait

Dr Peter Watkins

Principal Lecturer

School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Lin Zheng Portrait

Dr Lin Zheng

Principal Lecturer

School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Discover our areas of expertise

Professional communication 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.

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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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Discourse analysis

We're researching how ideas, concepts and people are represented through language, and exploring how language is used in real-life contexts.

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Through our work in sociolinguistics, 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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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.