The BAWE Corpus and Genre Families Classification of Assessed Student Writing

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The British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus ( comprises almost 3,000 pieces of university student writing distributed across four domains (Arts & Humanities, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences) and four levels of study (from first year undergraduate to taught Master’s level). The texts had all been submitted as part of regular university coursework, and had been awarded top grades, indicating that they had met disciplinary requirements in terms of level and task. The corpus was compiled to enable identification of the linguistic and generic features associated with successful university student writing. Our detailed analyses of the corpus led to the identification of thirteen genre families, and supports the premises that university students write in a wider variety of genres than is commonly recognised, and that student writing differs across genres, disciplines and levels of university study. This review introduces the BAWE corpus and the associated genre family classification, then explains how they can be accessed and used for teaching and research purposes, how they have been used to deepen our understanding of academic writing in English, and where they have been used to inform the development of online, interactive and paper-based English language teaching materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-55
Number of pages5
JournalAssessing Writing
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Assessing Writing. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Assessing Writing, 38, 2018 DOI:

© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • corpus
  • genre classification
  • genre family
  • academic English
  • student writing


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