You are here


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 again Peter M

Thank you very much for your reply and I should say "Yes, you are right, I am so sorry", but I thought I am supposed to learn writing skill, as well.

Hello LearnEnglish from British Council.
I'm wondering how to prepare the IELTS academic writing skill with your website?
Kind Regards

Hello Adrien Defrance,

We have a site for IELTS candidates which has advice, suggestions, information on the exam and a lot of sample materials including model answers. You can find it here:




The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you online British learning course.

Thanks A lot.

I am practicing for an entrance exam for English because English is not my first language. I am struggling with Introduction of my essay. Can you please guide me how to write an introduction. What do we mean by:
Theses statement should not be too broad
How we can narrow it down?
I usually introduce my essays by relating the main topic to other things. This means that I don't go to my essay topic staright away. Is that a good/bad approach?
I will be thankful if I can get my problem solved from BC Council Team.

Hello kavleen,

It's very difficult for us to give advice on something like this because we haven't seen your essay as it is at the moment, and this is really essential for any advice to be genuinely helpful. This is something a teacher can do with their own student, not really something we can do online.

We do have a page explaining the structure of essays and containing information on how to write them. You can find it here. You'll also find examples of essays on that page which you can analyse.

I hope that's helpful to you.

Good luck!



The LearnEnglish Team

There is the first time I visit website Bristish Council. I want to improve my skill Writing. But I do not know. How is method to writing for beginner?. Can you give some tips. I really thank you so much.

Hi Claura,

Welcome to LearnEnglish!

Your question is a very broad one! Is there any particular kind of writing you would like to work on - formal or informal writing, business or personal writing, correspondence, creative writing etc? We may be able to point you towards some relevant pages if you can be a little more specific.

For general advice on writing (and on other aspects of English) you can take a look at this page. We have various practical tips and suggestions there for you which I think will be useful.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello to
Please write an essay and report in your common site.

Thanks, regards

Hello alinazarpaiman,

You can find examples and explantions of both essays and reports using the links above. Just click on the word ('Essays' or 'Research Reports') to go to the relevant page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team