If you are studying in a British university you will be required to do a large amount of writing, whatever your subject. Some people distinguish between "essays" and "reports", and you may also know some other names for written assignments. However, sometimes the same name is used for very different types of assignment, and different names are used for very similar types of assignment.

Some of these assignments are more common in some disciplines than in others. For example, in business Case Studies are very common, in law Problem Questions are very common, while in history and philosophy Essays are very common.

Three thousand examples of proficient British university assignments from more than 30 disciplines, such as business, engineering, law, biology, sociology and history have been collected. These form the BAWE corpus. By analysing these assignments 13 basic Genre Families of student writing can be identified and each one has been given a specific name.

The 13 Genre Families are:

Here is some more information about the background to identifying these Genre Families.

Note that the names that have been given to these assignment families have very specific meanings on this site, but you will probably find that your lecturers and your fellow students use these names much more loosely – they may for example call most written assignments "essays", and they may use the terms "essay" and "report"  interchangeably.

Try this Task to check that you understand about the BAWE project.


Task 1

Choose the correct answers for these questions about the project.



Hello Soulmity 88,

The Writing for a Purpose section is designed for people preparing to study in the UK and requires quite a high level of English. It may be that these pages are a little too difficult for you at the moment. I suggest taking our online level test to see what materials are most appropriate for you. You can find the test here and then do a search for materials at that level using the magnifying glass in the top right of the page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

my writing in Englis is zero, what should i do for improving my writing?

Hello Phuongmai19,

This section is for improving your academic writing, but what might be more useful for you is the advice on our Frequently asked questions page. Please read that and then if you have any other questions, feel free to ask us - though please be as specific as you can, as we can give you much better advice that way.

And by the way, if you're able to write a comment like this, then your writing in English is not zero - it was perfectly intelligible!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi, i've come to this site after a long while. why cant i find the dictionary?? there used to be one on the homepage it was great .. with best explanations and examples. PLEEEASE TELL ME it's not been taken off the site? :( :(

Hi zkpb,

I'm afraid this is something which is beyond our control. It's related to a change which Cambridge have made in the services they offer, not to a decision we have taken.

You can still access Cambridge dictionaries from their site:



Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team, i want to improve my writing skills, i am intermediate in english

Hello jhunung,

This section is designed to help you improve your academic writing and is generally at a high-intermediate or advanced level. Our English for Emails section is more appropriate for an intermediate level, and is designed to help you write emails. If you're interested in working on your writing in general, there's some advice on how to use our site to improve your writing on our Frequently asked questions page.

If you have any other specific questions, please feel free to ask us.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I am newcomer in this site. It is useful for me, but I need to learn more. I want to improve more in English. Could you please advise to me if i have any difficulties?

Thanks, :)

Yes I can help you

Hello Iwin1990,

Welcome to LearnEnglish!

The best place to start is our Getting Started section. Please also take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page, which has a lot of advice on how to learn most effectively, including advice on particular aspects of learning (grammar, different skills and so on).

In the comments sections of each page we try to answer any questions about the material on the page or related language or cultural aspects. We are a small team and there are many thousands of users of LearnEnglish and so we cannot answer all questions or provide online lessons, but we try to help as much as we can.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team