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:

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,I'm here for learning English,but I don't think how I have to do at beginning.
Could you help me.

Hi angelhakim,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! Our site is organised to be used as a library - there is no course or set order to work through it. I'd encourage you to look through the different sections of LearnEnglish so that you can see the range of resources on offer. Then you can just start working through one of the parts that interests you the most.

Or, if you already know, for example, that you want to work on academic writing, just start working through one section of Writing for a purpose. Or if you want to work on your listening or speaking, I'd suggest listening to our audio and video materials (there are several sections under Listen & Watch). There are transcripts and exercises to help you improve your listening comprehension, and you can use the audio as a model that you can imitate to learn new expressions and improve your pronunciation.

Whatever you do, it's best to try to have contact with English every day, even if it's only for a short time. Little by little, you should see that you improve!

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you British Council. i want to learn english,

Hey friends. I don't know whether my posts are appearing here or no? Anybody can help?

Hello Saminajim, and welcome to LearnEnglish!

We check all comments before we post them on the site, but we are a small team on LearnEnglish. Sometimes it takes a few hours for us to authorise comments, so don't worry if there's a short delay! Your comments are now all posted - and I hope you enjoy your stay!


Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Please give me suggestion for writing skill improvement.

Hello hipparagi,

There are a number of ways to improve your writing, but the first step, I would say, is to be clear about what kind of writing you need to improve. Do you need to develop more formal or more informal styles of writing? Is academic writing important for you? Do you need to write in English for professional purposes? Or is perhaps creative writing your focus? Once you are clear on this, you can look for models to read and draw both language and inspiration from. For example, for professional writing many of the materials in our Business and Work section will be useful (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/business-and-work). On the other hand, if you are looking for guidance on academic writing then take a look at our Writing for a Purpose section (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/writing-purpose/writing-purpose). For magazine-style texts on a wide range of topics you can try our Magazine (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/magazine).

Of course, general language improvement will benefit your writing, so working on areas of grammar and vocabulary which you find difficult or in which you are lacking is a good idea. Finally, remember that writing is similar to speaking in that it is not always necessary to be corrected on what you write. Just practising writing by yourself, and then comparing your version with some of the models linked to above, is very useful.

I hope that gives you some ideas.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

I am new to this site ,how start improving writing skill ? One more thing i am going to mention here that whenever i thought of writing essays, i face lot of problem while writing such as lack of vocabulary,at particular i am not able to find particular word for that situation.please provide me remedies for this .

Hello hipparagi,

I've just answered your question below this one. Please ask questions once only - we will answer as quickly as we can, but sometimes there are a lot of questions for us to answer!

Best wishes,

Peter Moran
The LearnEnglish Team

I like to learn the essay fro writting task 2 for IELTS exam :) can anyone help, thanks