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.



Hi everyone,
I'm Hai. I'm a new member. My job in the future needs speaking skill and writing skill a lot but my skills aren't good. Can everybody show me how to improve them?
Thank you so much!

Hello funtom,

Welcome! We get this kind of question quite often and have explained some ways you can use LearnEnglish to improve your writing and speaking on our Frequently asked questions page. I'd suggest you start there and then if you have any more specific questions, please let us know and we'll do our best to help you. If it's near where you live and it's possible for you, you might also want to look at the courses on offer at a British Council Teaching Centre in Vietnam.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I am Karnan, I want to write good sentences without grammar error. So, kindly help me, how to write?

Hello Karnan Kaliyamoorthy,

This is a quite a general question, and so it is hard for us to answer other than to say 'practice and more practice'! Actually, we have a page with general advice, including on grammar. You can find it here. Use the links to see the different suggestions we make.

If you have any specific questions about specific grammar issues then we'll be happy to provide specific answers, of course!

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk
I have seen your advice to others and loved it and need you to help me please. I am from non-speaking English background. Since my childhood, I have high interest to write formal thesis or essay. I have tried many times and still my writing is not formal. What do you advice me to write excellent thesis or essay please ?

Hi johnshuremo,

You're already at the right part of LearnEnglish for this topic, so you should use the links on this page to look at the genres you need. You'll find examples as well as advice and linguistic help. For example, on this page you can find examples of good essays, with analysis of their structure as well as useful language.

Another thing to do is to ask for examples from the place where you are intending to submit your work. They should be able to give you examples of essays, for example, so you can see what kind of style is expected.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

hi, everybody,
My name is Luong van Don, i am new joiner of this website. I am working for vietnam company, i usually use english in my work, in fact only speaking and hardly writing. i feel difficult to write a word correctly. However, now i intend to stop my work and continue to studying abroad to achieve my goals in my life in australia so i have to take the ielts exams to get the brand core 6.5 for studying master degree in early next year!

Can anybody tell me the best way to boost up my english level?
Thank you very much for your taking time and i look forward to seeing your comment!

Hello Luong van Don,

Welcome! I'd recommend you read our Frequently asked questions page for advice on how to use LearnEnglish and also highly recommend that you take a look at TakeIELTS, where you'll find loads of useful information about preparing for the IELTS.

If there is one near where you live, an IELTS Preparation course at one of the British Council centres in Vietnam could also be really useful for you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
i do not know, how to write good letter to university , president, prime minister and any one.
i want to know '' writing for purpose'' is good start for learn to write letter.

Hello ritesh46,

Writing for a purpose is an excellent resource for preparing for the kind of writing you will have to do as a university student. To learn about writing a letter, our English for Emails section will probably be more helpful, though I'd also recommend the Writing a formal letter page at the ESOL Nexus and the Letters and invitations page at the Oxford Dictionary site.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team