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.



oh this is nice idea. thank you very much teacher!

Hi everyone,

I'm Ngoc. I'm from Vietnam. It is the first time I join this website. I am an employee of a company. In my job, I often using Enghlish for wringting email, talking with other foreign colleague. However my english skill is not good, I 'm lack alot of knowledge so I am not feel confidential when I talk with them. I tried to improve it many months ago but I was still bad.
How can I improve it? :(

English, not Enghlish
writing, not wringiting
a lot are two different words

Hi Thi Nhu Ngoc,

I'd recommend you first read the advice on our Help page, which will give you some good ideas on how to use LearnEnglish for whatever purpose you need. After that, it sounds to me like Elementary Podcasts might be a good resource for improving your listening and speaking. If you want to work on your email writing, I'd recommend these ESOLNexus and BBC pages.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Nice Idea

You are so accurate in every thing , I do like you web site so much ,

Hello. As I'm trying to improve my English I think I have got a problem that needs experts like you Im very dull when it comes to brainstorming how may I improve my brainstorming

Hello Lamastry,

I'm afraid I can't help you with this. We can help with language issues and ways of learning English, but improving your brainstorming is outside of our expertise. I should think you can find plenty of specialist sites with advice on this sort of thing, however.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Now and then , the more I trying to practice ,the more mistake i will make. And also the more embarrassement I'll feel. I can remember three or four jokes from the podcast. I can even recite it. And tell everyone else I have met and feel good about. For complimenting some guest. I would star to greet them as " my lady "" how are you ,sir !" Sigh. I failed.

I'm bad. I have listen to podcasts and big city small world for years. Not continuously though , but I can't still speak English fluently. And some people are nice,some people aren't so nice. I work as a waiter. I have been treated both badly and good. I know they tease my broken English so much , I hate it, hate my life so much. I give up.