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.



Hi the best,
Well, you've certainly come to the right place to improve your English, because there are lots of different resources here at LearnEnglish.
Which areas you want to work on is not completely clear to me. I would suggest that you spend some time browsing the site and trying different parts. When you find something useful or enjoyable, then simply work on that.
By the way, when writing anywhere other than in a chat forum or on your phone, it would probably be best to avoid using numbers like 2 and 4 instead of the words "to" and "for".
Please let us know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for this channel. I am studying to take IELTS next December in Venezuela. I took an interview at The British Council to test my skills and they determined that I do not have enough level to take IELTS yet, but I am going to study smarter and concentrated to accomplish this very important goal to my personal enhancement.

Hi frankyavila,
We're glad you find LearnEnglish useful and hope it helps you to achieve your IELTS goal. Please let us know how it goes for you!
I suppose you've already seen our IELTS pages, as well as Take IELTS, but I'm mentioning them here just in case you haven't.
Good luck!
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear British council,
I am new to this site and feel very happy to know about this site through random search in Google. I would like to improve my written skills. Could you please guide me how should I proceed to enhance my written skills. Any advice is welcomed.
Thanks in advance,
Best regards,

Hi Raj,
First of all, welcome to LearnEnglish - we're glad you found us!
If you're asking about using Writing for a Purpose, a colleague of mine will be along soon to give you advice about using this section.
In general, the best way to improve your writing is to write as much as you can, and of course to get feedback from a teacher who can help you with grammatical and lexical accuracy as well as the form and content of your texts.
It's also very helpful to read texts that are similar to the ones that you want to be able to write. You can learn a lot about how to organize your writing, plus of course lots of good vocabulary and grammar, by reading in this way.
Good luck!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Raj
I agree with Kirk that it is helpful to read texts that are similar to the ones that you want to be able to write. However it is often difficult  to find good examples of university student writing in specific areas of study  - this is one of the reasons why we have developed the 'Writing for a Purpose' materials.
If you need to write in English for study purposes, I suggest that you work your way through the 'Writing for a Purpose' pages, thinking about the kinds of writing you will be required to do for your studies, and the reasons why these writing tasks are set. Do the tasks in the 'Primary Purposes' and 'Genre Families' sections, and then you can select the activities from the 'Your Writing Task' section that are most appropriate for you. You will find downloadable examples of different types of assignment in this section - for example you can download business Case Studies from the Case Studies 'Structure' page (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/writing-purpose/case-studies-s...).
Also the Vocabulary pages in the 'Your Writing Task' section contain lots of examples of the way words and phrases are typically used for specific tasks in specific disciplines. Click on a word or phrase and see how it is used in the BAWE corpus. (If you want to investigate the corpus further, see 'Using Sketch Engine with BAWE' in the Resources section).
Let us know how you get on - we are here to help.
The Writing for a Purpose Team

Hi every body just i want to learn English from 0 step and  all i know that  i want to be professional person in this language . I hope the help ...

Hello abomisbah
Work your way slowly and carefully through the materials and I am sure you will pick up some useful academic writing tips.
Good luck!
The Writing for a Purpose Team 

Hello, everybody! I am new to this site and I hope that through this site, I finally will speak  English. My English is not very well. I don't understand when speak very quickly fore example on TV or radio. But I have huge desire for learning English. Give me advice. Thank you!
Best regards
Ibray Begeyev 

Hello Ibray
The Writing for a Purpose materials are designed to help you write in English for your academic studies. Use these materials if you are studying at university, or if you are going to study at university, and you need to write assignments in English.
There are some opportunities to practise listening skills too though, because we have included some videos of interviews with lecturers and students.
Best wishes
The Writing for a Purpose Team