Professor Susan Hunston OBE, PhD FAcSS

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.



  • 2011 Corpus Approaches to Evaluation: phraseology and evaluative language. Routledge.
  • 2009. Academic Writing: at the interface of corpus and discourse. Continuum. (edited, with M. Charles and D. Pecorari)
  • 2009 Introducing Applied Linguistics: concepts and skills. Routledge (edited, with D. Oakey)
  • 2006 System and Corpus: Exploring connections. Equinox. (edited, with G. Thompson)
  • 2002 Corpora in Applied Linguistics. Cambridge University Press.
  • 2000 Evaluation in Text: authorial stance and the construction of discourse. Oxford University Press. (edited, with G. Thompson)
  • 1999 Pattern Grammar: a corpus-driven approach to the lexical grammar of English. Benjamins. (with G. Francis)

Recent papers

  • 2014. ‘Flavours of Corpus Linguistics’. Paper given at Charles University, Prague 2012 and at Corpus Linguistics 2011, Birmingham.
  • 2013. 'Systemic Functional Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics, and the Ideology of Science' Text and Talk 33: 617-640.
  • 2012. ‘Motivated, Self-Directed, Informed: The model language learner in the 21st century’ JACET Kansai Journal 14: 1-16.
  • 2012. ‘Afterword: The problems of applied linguistics’ in K. Hyland et al (eds.) Corpus Applications in Applied Linguistics. London: Continuum. 242-248.
  • 2011. ‘Verbs Observed: a corpus-driven pedagogic grammar’ in D. Biber and R. Reppen (eds.) Corpus Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reprint of article first published in Applied Linguistics 19(1) 45-72 (1998). (with G. Francis)
  • 2010. ‘How can a corpus be used to explore patterns?’ in A. O’Keeffe and M. McCarthy (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. London: Routledge. 152-166.
  • 2009. ‘A corpus-driven lexical grammar of English: observation and theory’ Anglistik 20: 125-138.
  • 2009. ‘The usefulness of corpus-based descriptions of English for learners: the case of relative frequency’ in K. Aijmer (ed.) Corpora and Language Teaching. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 141-156.
  • 2008. ‘Collection strategies and design decisions’ in A Lüdeling and M. Kytö (eds.) Corpus Linguistics: an international handbook. Volume 1. Berlin: de Gruyter. 154-168.
  • 2008. Starting with the small words: Patterns, lexis and semantic sequences. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 13: 271-295.
  • 2008. The evaluation of status in multi-modal speech. Functions of Language 15: 64-83.
  • 2007. ‘Grammar patterns and literacy' in McCabe, Anne, O'Donnell, Mick, & Whittaker, Rachel (eds). Advances in Language and Education. London : Continuum. 254-267
  • 2007. ‘Semantic Prosody Revisited'. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 12,2: 249-268
  • 2007. ‘Using a corpus to investigate stance quantitatively and qualitatively’. in Englebretson (ed.) Stancetaking in Discourse. Benjamins. 27-48.
  • 2006 ‘Conflict and consensus: construing opposition in Applied Linguistics' in Tognini-Bonelli and Del lungo Camiciotti (eds.) Strategies in Academic Discourse. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 1-16
  • 2006. ‘Phraseology and system: a contribution to the debate' in Thompson and Hunston (eds.) System and Corpus: exploring connections. Equinox. 55-80
  • 2006. ‘Introduction' in Thompson and Hunston (eds.) System and Corpus: exploring connections. Equinox. With G. Thompson. 1-14
  • 2006. ‘Truth and lies: the construction of factuality in a television documentary' in Caldas-Coulthard and Toolan (eds.) The Writer's Craft, the Culture's Technology. 181-194
  • 2004 ‘Counting the uncountable: problems of identifying evaluation in a text and in a corpus' in Partington, Morley and Haarman (eds.) Corpora and Discourse. Peter Lang. 157-188
  • 2004 ‘ “It has rightly been pointed out…”: Attribution, consensus and conflict in academic English' in Bondi, Gavioli and Silver (eds.) Academic Discourse, Genre and Small Corpora. Rome: Officina Edizioni. 15-33
  • 2004 ‘The corpus, grammar patterns, and lexicography' Lexicographica 20: 99-112
  • 2004 ‘The automatic recognition of verb patterns: a feasibility study' International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9: 253-270. (with Oliver Mason)
  • 2003 ‘Lexis, wordform and complementation pattern: a corpus study' Functions of Language 10: 31-60
  • 2002 ‘Pattern grammar, language teaching, and linguistic variation: applications of a corpus-driven grammar' in Reppen, Biber and Fitzmaurice (eds.) Using Corpora to Explore Linguistic Variation. Benjamins

Encyclopedia entries

  • The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics 2nd edition. 2006. Elsevier. Entries on ‘Evaluation’ (with Geoff Thompson) and ‘Corpus Linguistics’.
  • The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. 2012. Wiley-Blackwell. Entries on ‘The History of Corpus Linguistics’ and ‘Pattern Grammar’.

View all publications in research portal


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