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 (British Academic Written English) 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:
- Literature Surveys
- Methodology Recounts
- Research Reports
- Event Recounts
- Public Engagement
- Case Studies
- Design Specifications
- Problem Questions
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.