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 Peter,

Thank a lots for your help.

Best Regards,

Thank you alot.
Best wishes.

Hello dear LearnEnglish British-Council team!
My name Orien . I am from Tajikistan . I'm working as a programmer in the Russian Federation . I know conversational English .I want to learn technical English in the field of information technology. Please advise me how to understand the technical documentation, and how to formulate a question in this area.
Thank you so much!

Hello Orien,

I'm afraid we don't currently have anything specifically dedicated to improving your technical English. The best I can do is suggest seeking help at a British Council centre (if there is one near you in the Russian Federation) or to do an internet search for 'learn technical English' or 'learn English for information technology' or something similar.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone
I am Giang, I'm from VietNam .I want to improve all skills. I dont know how to start. I'm learning grammar but I can't apply in communication.

Hello GiangTran116,

There some advice on how to use LearnEnglish in general, as well as how to improve the different skills, on our Frequently asked questions page. It sounds to me as if Elementary Podcasts might be a good place for you to start. I'd recommend you listen to an episode or two to see how you get on. To get the most out of an episode, be sure to listen to the recording more than once, first without the transcript and later with the transcript to help you understand parts that are difficult. Be sure to write down words and phrases that are useful or difficult for you – you can study this list in the future, and also practise pronouncing these words and phrases to improve your fluency and pronunciation. And of course the exercises will also be useful for you!

Finally, you might also want to consider a course at a British Council teaching centre near you – face-to-face classes with a teacher are probably the most effective way to improve your speaking especially. If you have any questions or need other advice, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I miss an online chat column where we learner can chat to improve our English, both spoken and written Eng.

Hello priya,

There is no space like that here on LearnEnglish, but you might want to take a look at our Facebook page, which is a bit more interactive. I expect that there are some websites on the internet where you can chat with others. If you do this, please just be careful with your personal information for your own safety.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I write some article but not to confirm it is good or bad where should I check my article.

Hello sharmila,

That's great! I'd suggest you find a teacher where you live to check your article, as I'm afraid we don't provide the service of checking users' writing. You might want to see if anyone can help you at the British Council Centre in Kathmandu.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team