Professor Suganthi John BA, MA, RSA Cert TESL, PhD

Photograph of Dr Suganthi John

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Professor of English Language
Deputy Director of Education (Distance and Digital Education)

Contact details

Frankland Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a Professor of English Language in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. I teach a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and supervise PhD students in English Language and Linguistics. My research focusses on self-representation and identity in academic texts. I am also interested in writing development across boundaries (undergraduate to postgraduate; postgraduate to workplace) and in writing for research publication purposes.


  • PhD in English Language, 2005, University of Birmingham
  • MA in Applied Linguistics, 1993, University of Sheffield
  • Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language to Adults, 1993, Royal Society of Arts, British Council, Singapore
  • BA (Honours) in English Language and Literature, 1992 National University of Singapore

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Before pursuing my PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2000, I lived and worked in Singapore. I graduated in 2005 with a PhD from Birmingham and moved back to Singapore for a brief period. In 2007, I was offered a position at Birmingham. I was initially in the English for International Students Unit (now known as the Birmingham International Academy) and joined the Department of English Language and Linguistics in 2009.

I have held several roles in the department (Admissions Tutor, Undergraduate Programme Director and Head of Department). I have also held a School role as Head of Internationalisation for EDACS and College and institutional roles in widening participation (2010-2020). I am currently Deputy Director of Education for Distance and Digital Education (2019-current) in the College of Arts and Law. 



  • The Practice of Writing
  • Investigating Language
  • English Language Teaching
  • Language Dissertation


  • English for Specific and Academic Purposes

I supervise undergraduate research reports and projects/dissertations at second and third year levels.

Postgraduate supervision

I am currently supervising several students working on academic discourse, the teaching of academic writing, identity in writing and academic writing development. I am interested in supervising PhD research in the areas of:

Academic discourse
English for academic purposes
Advanced academic literacy

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


The primary focus of my research is on identity creation in academic discourse and advanced academic literacy. My other research interests include English for research publication purposes, English for academic purposes, particularly, academic writing, and second language learning and teaching.

Other activities

  • I am Director of the Centre for Advanced Research in English which hosts international scholars in the School of English, Drama, American and Canadian Studies.
  • I sit on the Advisory Board of the Academic Skills Centre as the representative from the College of Arts and Law.
  • I have been involved with the Access to Birmingham scheme for 5 years and I am now the lead tutor for the scheme in the School of EDACS. I am moderator for all assessments through this scheme in the College of Arts and Law and serve as Humanities moderator at university level. Nationally, I am the university’s Humanities representative for the Realising Opportunities scheme.
  • I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Transient Migration and serve as a reviewer of articles to a number of journals including the Journal of English for Academic Purposes, English for Specific Purposes and Writing and Pedagogy.


Recent publications


Groom, N, Charles, M & John, S (eds) 2015, Corpora, grammar and discourse: In honour of Susan Hunston. vol. 73, Studies in Corpus Linguistics edn, John Benjamins, Amsterdam.


John, S & Laso, N 2017, 'The pedagogical benefits of a lexical database (SciE-Lex) to assist the production of publishable biomedical texts by EAL writers', Iberica, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 147-172. <>

Smith Stvan, L & John, S 2016, 'Learning English Bare Singulars: Data in the L2 Classroom', EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-22.

Laso, N & John, S 2013, 'An exploratory study of NNS medical writers’ awareness of the collocational patterning of abstract nouns in medical discourse', RESLA - Spanish Journal of Applied Linguistics, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 307-331. <>

John, S 2010, 'The Influence of Revision on First Person Pronoun Use in dissertation Writing', Writing and Pedagogy, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 227-247.

John, S & Tang, R 1999, 'The ‘I’ in identity: Exploring writer identity in student academic writing through the first person pronoun', English for Specific Purposes, vol. 18, no. Supplement 1, pp. S23-S39.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Groom, N, Charles, M & John, S 2015, Introduction: Corpora, grammar, and discourse analysis: Recent trends, current challenges. in N Groom, M Charles & S John (eds), Corpora, Grammar and Discourse: In honour of Susan Hunston. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 2-19.


John, S 2013, A corpus-based analysis of the collocational patterning of adjectives with abstract nouns in medical English. in I Verdaguer, NJ Laso & D Salazar (eds), Biomedical English: a corpus based approach. Studies in Corpus Linguistics, vol. 56, John Benjamins Publishing.

John, S 2012, Identity without the 'I': a study of citation sequences and writer identity in literature review sections of dissertations. in R Tang (ed.), Academic Writing in a Second or Foreign language: issues and challenges facing ESL/EFL academic writers in higher education contaxts. Research in second language learning, Bloomsbury Academic.

John, S 2009, Using the revision process to help international students understand the linguistic construction of the academic identity. in M Charles, D Pecorari & S Hunston (eds), Academic Writing: All the Interface of Corpus and Discourse.

John, S 2007, Meeting the challenge of developing an academic identity: a textual approach. in P Teo & C Ho (eds), Discourse in the Modern World: Perspectives and Challenges. McGraw Hill, Singapore.

View all publications in research portal