Professor Susan Hunston OBE, PhD, FAcSS, FEA

Photograph of Professor Susan Hunston

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Professor of English Language

Contact details

Frankland Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I have a background in English Language and Applied Linguistics and have worked in three countries. I enjoy research and teaching at all levels and I especially like supervising Doctoral Researchers.


  • 1989. PhD English. University of Birmingham. Title of thesis: ‘Evaluation in Experimental Research Articles’
  • 1983. MA (by research). University of Birmingham
  • 1977. Postgraduate Diploma in English as a Second Language. University of Leeds
  • 1974. BA English Language and Literature. University of Birmingham


I was born and brought up in Leeds and since then have lived in Singapore, the Philippines, Smethwick, Guildford and Birmingham. My first degree focused mainly on English Literature, but teaching English as a Second Language and English for Academic Purposes in my early career led to an increasing interest in how the English language works, and I pursued that interest in my MA and PhD. 

Since 1983 I have taught Applied Linguistics and English Language as a degree subject at the National University of Singapore, the University of Surrey, and since 1996 at the University of Birmingham. I also had two years in the commercial world as a member of the Cobuild project. 

In my current job I am Professor of English Language.


Over the years I have taught various subject areas, including spoken and written Discourse Analysis, Pedagogic Grammar, the Language of Science and Corpus Linguistics.

Postgraduate supervision

Find out more - our PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research focuses on two areas: Corpus linguistics, especially the interface between lexis and grammar, phraseology, and the contribution of corpus linguistics to Applied Linguistics and to discourse studies; and Discourse Analysis, in particular the study of evaluative language and the analysis of written academic English. My monograph (Corpus Approaches to Evaluation: Phraseology and Evaluative Language) brings together these interests. I worked with Dr Paul Thompson on the ESRC-funded 'Interdisciplinary Research Discourse' project (IDRD). This led to a number of publications, including the monograph Interdisciplinary Research Discourse (2019, Routledge).

Research groups

Other activities

I am currently co-editor of the Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series. From 2006 to 2009 I was Chair of the British Association for Applied Linguistics. I serve on the editorial board of Applied Linguistics, Functions of Language and AJELT.


I helped to organise the Corpus Linguistics conferences in Birmingham, held in 2005 and 2007. I have been an invited or plenary speaker at a number of conferences in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Spain, Taiwan and the US as well as in Britain.


Highlight publications

Thompson, P & Hunston, S 2019, Interdisciplinary research discourse: Corpus investigations into environment journals. Routledge Applied Corpus Linguistics, 1 edn, Routledge, London.

Hunston, S & Su, H 2019, 'Patterns, constructions and local grammar: a case study of 'evaluation'', Applied Linguistics, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 567-593.

Thompson, P, Hunston, S, Murakami, A & Vajn, D 2017, 'Multi-dimensional analysis, text constellations, and interdisciplinary discourse', International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 153–186.

Murakami, A, Thompson, P, Hunston, S & Vajn, D 2017, ''What is this corpus about?': Using topic modelling to explore a specialised corpus', Corpora, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 243-277.

Su, H & Hunston, S 2019, 'Language patterns and ATTITUDE revisited: adjective patterns, attitude and appraisal', Functions of Language, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 343-371.

Recent publications


Hunston, S 2011, Corpus Approaches to Evaluation: Phraseology and Evaluative Language. Routledge Advances in Corpus Linguistics. vol. 13, Routledge.

Hunston, S, Charles, M & Pecorari, D (eds) 2010, Academic Writing: at the interface of corpus and discourse. Continuum.


Su, H & Hunston, S 2019, 'Adjective complementation patterns and judgement: aligning lexical-grammatical and discourse-semantic approaches in appraisal research', Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language Discourse Communication Studies, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 415–439.

Gozdz-Roszkowski, S & Hunston, S 2016, 'Corpora and beyond - investigating evaluation in discourse: introduction to the special issue on corpus approaches to evaluation', Corpora, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 131-141.

Millar, N & Hunston, S 2015, 'Adjectives, communities, and taxonomies of evaluative meaning', Functions of Language, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 297-331.

Hunston, S 2012, 'Motivated, Self-Directed, Informed: The model language learner in the 21st century', JACET Kansai Journal , vol. 14, pp. 1-16.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Esimaje, A & Hunston, S 2019, What is corpus linguistics. in A Esimaje, U Gut & B Antia (eds), Corpus Linguistics in African Englishes. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, pp. 7-35.

Hunston, S 2015, Lexical grammar. in D Biber & R Reppen (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of English Corpus Linguistics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 201-215.

Hunston, S 2015, Talking science: science in the news on BBC Radio. in M Bondi, S Cacchiani & D Mazzi (eds), Discourse in and through the media: recontextualizing and reconceptualizing expert discourse. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 66.

Hunston, S 2014, Pattern Grammar in Context. in T Herbst (ed.), Construction Collocations Patterns. De Gruyter, Amsterdam.

Hunston, S & Francis, G 2011, Verbs observed: a corpus-driven pedagogic grammar. in D Biber & R Reppen (eds), Corpus Linguistics. Oxford University Press, Oxford.


Hunston, S 2012, Afterword: The problems of applied linguistics. in K Hyland (ed.), Corpus Applications in Applied Linguistics. Continuum, London, pp. 242-248.

Book/Film/Article review

Hunston, S 2012, 'Review of McEnery, T. and Hardie, A. (2011) Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice', International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 290-294.

Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Hunston, S 2012, Corpus Linguistics: historical development. in Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley-Blackwell.

Hunston, S 2012, Pattern Grammar. in The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley-Blackwell.

View all publications in research portal


English language and applied linguistics; use of computers in study of language; analysing the way scientists write/speak