Dr Paul Thompson PhD

Photograph of Dr Paul Thompson by Rory Buckland

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Reader in Applied Corpus Linguistics
Head of English Language and Linguistics
Co-Director, Centre for Corpus Research

Contact details

Frankland Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I have been at the University of Birmingham since September 2009, and I am the Head of Department for English Language and Linguistics as well as being Co-Director of the Centre for Corpus Research. I am an applied corpus linguist with particular interest in specialised discourses. I am also an Editor-in-Chief of the Applied Corpus Linguistics journal.


  • PhD in Applied Linguistics, Reading
  • MA in TEFL, Reading
  • PGCE, York
  • BA in English & Related Literature, York


I took up the post of Director of the Centre for Corpus Research at Birmingham in September 2009, after working for thirteen years as a lecturer in EAP/Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading. I had taught in Kenya (one year) and Japan (fourteen years) before moving to Reading in 1996 to do doctoral research.


I convene the MA module, 'Corpus Assisted Language Learning'.

Postgraduate supervision

Paul Thompson is interested in supervising postgraduate research students in the areas of:

corpus linguistics
applications of corpus-based approaches to language description, particularly in education
applications of IT in language teaching

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


With Susan Hunston, I was Principal Investigator on an ESRC project (ES/K007300/1) on 'Investigating interdisciplinary research discourse: the case of Global Environmental Change', August 2013 to November 2015.

With Alison Sealey and Mike Scott, I worked on an ESRC project (R000223900), 'An investigation into corpus-based learning about language in the primary school', June 2002 to May 2004.

With Hilary Nesi, a lecture and seminar recording project, the British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus, funded by a Resource Enhancement grant from the Arts and Humanities Board (RE/AN6806/APN13545), April 2002 to March 2005.

With Hilary Nesi, Sheena Gardner and Paul Wickens, an ESRC funded project, "An investigation of genres of assessed writing in British Higher Education" (RES-000-23-0800), December 2004 to November 2007. The major output of this project was the British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus.

My research interests are in academic and other specialised discourses, in the linguistic aspects of human-computer interaction, in uses of educational technologies in language learning, and in the exploitation of corpus resources and methodologies in learning about language.

Other activities

External roles

  • Co-editor and founder of Applied Corpus Linguistics journal (2020-)
  • Co-Editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes (2009-2018)
  • Member, ESRC Peer Review College
  • Applied Linguistics Pathway Co-ordinator for Midlands Graduate School (MGS)

University roles

  • Deputy Director, College of Arts and Law Graduate School with responsibility for distance learning and student progression


Recent publications


Thompson, P & Hunston, S 2019, Interdisciplinary research discourse: Corpus investigations into environment journals. Routledge Applied Corpus Linguistics, 1 edn, Routledge, London. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003009344


Xodabande, I, Atai, MR, Hashemi, MR & Thompson, P 2023, 'Developing and validating a mid-frequency word list for chemistry: a corpus-based approach using big data', Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education, vol. 8, no. 1, 32. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40862-023-00205-5

Thompson, P & Nasseri, M 2021, 'Lexical density and diversity in dissertation abstracts: revisiting English L1 vs. L2 text differences', Assessing Writing, vol. 47, 100511. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2020.100511

Thompson, P & Alzeer, SNM 2019, 'A survey of issues, practices and views related to corpus-based word lists for English Language Teaching and Learning', International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 43-53. https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.8n.6p.43

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. https://doi.org/10.3366/cor.2017.0118

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. https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.22.2.01tho


Thompson, P 2022, Building a specialised audiovisual corpus. in A O'Keeffe & M McCarthy (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. Second edn, Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics, Routledge, London, pp. 75-88. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367076399-7

Thompson, P 2016, Genre approaches to theses and dissertations. in K Hyland & P Shaw (eds), The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes. First edn, Routledge, pp. 379-391. <https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bham/reader.action?docID=4387845&ppg=402>

Thompson, P 2015, Changing the bases for academic word lists. in P Thompson & G Diani (eds), English for Academic Purposes: Approaches and Implications. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, pp. 317-342.

Thompson, P 2014, Exploring Hoey's notion of text colligation in a corpus of student writing. in A Alcaraz-Sintes & S Valera-Hernandez (eds), Diachrony and Synchrony in English Corpus Linguistics. Linguistic Insights, vol. 181, Peter Lang, Bern, pp. 347-371.

Diaz-Negrillo, A & Thompson, P 2013, Learner corpora: looking towards the future. in A Diaz-Negrillo, N Ballier & P Thompson (eds), Automatic Treatment and Analysis of Learner Corpus Data. Studies in Corpus Linguistics, no. 59, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 9-30. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.59

Thompson, P 2012, Achieving a Voice of Authority in PhD Theses. in K Hyland & C Sancho Guinda (eds), Stance and Voice in Written Academic Genres. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. <http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=510478>

Thompson, P, Hyland, K & Diani, G 2009, Literature reviews in applied PhD theses: evidence and problems. in Academic Evaluation: Review Genres in University Settings.


Glaas, S, Costello, B & Thompson, P 2021, 'Facilitating a partnership learning community: a novel analytical protocol for understanding free-text feedback comments from students', AdvanceHE Assessment and Feedback Symposium 2021, 4/11/21 - 5/11/21.

Review article

Benitez-Castro, M-A & Thompson, P 2015, 'Shell-nounhood in academic discourse: a critical state-of-the-art review', International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 378-404. https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.20.3.05ben

View all publications in research portal


The language of academic discourse; how language use varies from one discipline to another; building collections of text for electronic storage (corpus-building).

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