Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University

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Template:Infobox university The Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University is a world-leading department in applied linguistics with a special focus on critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, and language and gender.

In the 1980s the department rose to prominence thanks to the work of Norman Fairclough who is credited as the founder of Critical discourse analysis[1]. In the 2000s Ruth Wodak's work on critical discourse analysis draw world-wide attention to the department[2]. Apart from critical discourse analysis, the department is also world-famous for its contribution to the research on language and gender[3].

The department is also one of the top departments in the field of linguistics and English language in Europe.[4][5] The department is also one of the largest departments in linguistics in the UK.[6]


The department was founded in 1970 and it specializes in corpus linguistics, discourse studies, language teaching, and language assessment.

In 2000 Tony McEnery's, a professor at the department, corpus-based research on students' slang draw attention and was featured in the The Guardian.[7]

In 2004, the online diagnostic system, DIALANG, designed to assess a person's proficiency in 14 European languages, was developed by the Language Testing Research Group of the department, led by Charles Alderson. The DIALANG system, which is based on the proficiency scales of the Common European Framework of Reference, offers tests in reading, writing, listening, vocabulary and grammar. DIALANG is available in 14 languages are Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.[8][9]

On 8 November 2003, Scott Simon interviewed Paul Baker, a professor of corpus linguistics at the department, on the language of Polari on the National Public Radio.[10]

In 2013 Lancaster University received an award, Greater China Awards, from the Chinese government for its links with the country. The links date back to 1976 when the university first got in touch with Chinese ministry of education but now the ties are even tighter since the Lancaster university will set up an institution, the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. The institution launched an undergraduate degree in Linguistics with Chinese and all students at Lancaster University are offered the chance to study Mandarin.[11]

In 2015 Panos Athanasopoulos's research was featured in the The Guardian. He claimed that a German speaker and an English speaker perceive the world in different ways – thanks to the grammatical toolkit they’re using.[12]

Judit Kormos, member of the department, won an ELTon award for her work entitled The Dyslexia for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (Dystefl).[13]

On 19 November 2015, the department received The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its computer analysis of world languages in print, speech and online.[14][15]

On 8 April 2017, João Costa, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Education, visited the department to participate in a conference on bilingualism and heritage language learning. The event brought together policy makers from the Portuguese Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, leading academics, journalists, school teachers and parents to discuss current trends and challenges in fostering bilingual competence in English and in the heritage language.[16]

On 19 April 2017, Charles Alderson, Tineke Brunfaut, and Luke Harding were selected as the winner of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA) Best Article Award. The award-winning paper, Towards a Theory of Diagnosis in Second and Foreign Language Assessment: Insights from Professional Practice Across Diverse Fields, was published in 2015 in the journal Applied Linguistics. The study investigated how diagnosis is theorized and carried out across a diverse range of professions with a view to finding commonalities that can be applied to the context of second and foreign language assessment. On the basis of interviews with professionals from fields such as car mechanics, IT systems support, medicine, psychology and education, a set of principles was drawn up to facilitate inform a comprehensive theory of diagnostic assessment in a second or foreign language.[17]

On 2 June 2017, a new laboratory, Perception and Learning Laboratory, was opened to facilitate the research on neuroscience of language. The Electroencephalography records peaks in electrical brain activity time-locked to a specific event. Consequently, it provides an extremely sensitive, and extremely accurate, measure of online processing of language in the human brain.[18]

It was announced that the Department of Linguistics and English Language and the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science play an important role in the new Heritage Language Consortium.[19]

On 10 September 2018, Ruth Wodak received Lebenswerk-Preis (Lifetime Achievement Award), awarded by the Austrian Ministry for Women, Families & Youth, for her work.[20]

On 31 October 2018, the Lancaster Phonetics research was feature on BBC Alba. Claire Nance talked about her research, collected data on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, on how Gaelic speakers produce certain speech sounds. Nance used Lancaster Phonetics Lab’s state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment for her research. She traveled to the Isle of Lewis to ask native Scottish Gaelic speakers to wear the ultrasound headset and they then read aloud a sequence of words. By using ultrasound she could track the tongue’s movements during speech production to further our knowledge of the language’s sound system, as well as the spoken variation among Scottish Gaelic speakers.[21]

On 25 February 2018, Luke Harding and Tineke Brunfaut received the Award for Best Research at this year's International e-Assessment Awards for a joint comparison study looking into paper and online versions of Trinity's Integrated Skills in English Reading and Writing exam module.[22][23]

Norman Fairclough's book entitled Critical Discourse Analysis surpasses 20,000 citations thus becoming the most cited research output by a member of the department.[24]

In 2018 the department Lancaster facilitated to support the teaching of linguistics at Mosul, Iraq, providing mentoring for staff and students via video-conferencing, advice for PhD students and free access to an online course. Elena Semino, a professor and the head of the department at Lancaster, said academics at the University of Mosul are "working in conditions that we cannot even imagine".[25]


The department offers Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, Doctoral degree programmes.[26]

Apart from paid courses the department offers free online courses such as Corpus linguistics: method, analysis, interpretation and the Dyslexia and language teaching.[27]


The researchers at the department focus on a numerous areas of linguistics such as critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, second language acquisition, language teaching, language assessment, literacy and language and gender. Since the department purchased an eye tracker (Tobii TX300) numerous studies have been conducted on the field of dyslexia.[28] There are ten research centres at the department.[29]

  • Lancaster Literacy Research Centre
  • ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science
  • UCREL - University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language
  • DisTex - Discourse and Text Research Group
  • Forensic Linguistics Research Group
  • LIP - Language, Ideology and Power Group
  • LTRG - Language Testing Research Group
  • Phonetics Lab
  • Research Group in Cognitive Linguistics
  • SLLAT - Second Language Learning and Teaching Research Group


According to the QS World University Rankings, the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University was ranked 12th worldwide in 2019.[30][31]

Year Rank Academic
Citations H-index Score
2011[32] 43rd 43 25.5 38.2 N/A 40.8
2014[33] 9th 82 68.3 43.5 48.8 77.1
2015[34] 13th 82.30 72.7 86.30 77. 81.30
2016[35] 15th 81.9 55.4 87.7 76.2 79.3
2017[36] 19th 80.1 52.3 83.1 78. 77.4
2018[37] 15th 85.9 64.3 84.6 81. 83.4
2019[38] 12th 82.2 82.4 84.3 56.7 79.8


The Lancaster Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics and Language Teaching or LAEL PG is organized by postgraduate students under the auspices of the Department of Linguistics and English Language. This conference, dating back to 2006, provides linguistics postgraduates from various areas in linguistics and language teaching/assessment an opportunity to present and discuss their research in an informal and intellectually stimulating setting.[39]

Head of the department

Anna Siewierska prize

The Anna Siewierska Memorial Prize, to honour Anna Siewierska, is an award to the graduating Bachelor of Arts student with the highest overall average in the department of English Language and Linguistics.

  • 2018: Emily Gorman[42]

Notable academics

Notable alumni


  1. "Fairclough: Critical discourse analysis : the critical study of language". Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  2. "Wodak: Methods of Critical Discourse Studies". SAGE Publishing. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  3. "Sunderland: Language and Gender". Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  4. "Department of Linguistics and English Language". Lancaster University. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  5. "Lancaster University in global elite as linguistics department ranks 12th in world". Lancaster Guardian. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  6. "Our Reputation". Lancaster University. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  7. "Hardcore nation" (in English). The Guardian. 19 December 2000. Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  8. "DIALANG" (in English). Lancaster University. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  9. "The DIALANG project for the development of diagnostic language tests" (in English). European Language Council. 17 March 2004. Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  10. "The Lost Gay Language of Britain's '60s". 8 November 2003. 
  11. "Lancaster University wins award for China links". Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  12. "Think your world view is fixed? Learn another language and you’ll think differently" (in English). The Guardian. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  13. "Judit Kormos and Joanna Nijakowska: Successful inclusion for dyslexic students in the English language classroom" (in English). British Council. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2019. 
  14. "Royal approval for Lancaster University linguistics centre". Lancaster University. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  15. "11th Round Prize-winners announced at St James’s Palace 19 November 2015" (in English). Royal Anniversary Trust. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2019. 
  16. "Portuguese Secretary of State for Education visits Lancaster University" (in English). Lancaster University. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2019. 
  17. "Alderson, C., Brunfaut, T., & Harding, L. (2015). Towards a Theory of Diagnosis in Second and Foreign Language Assessment: Insights from Professional Practice Across Diverse Fields" (in English). Royal Anniversary Trust. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2019. 
  18. "New language facility will put Lancaster University at the forefront of psycholinguistics" (in English). Lancaster University. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2019. 
  19. "Lancaster Linguistics plays leading role in new Heritage Language Consortium" (in English). Lancaster University. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019. 
  20. ""Lebenswerk-Preis" 2018 an Ruth Wodak verliehen" (in German). Salzburger Nachrichten. 10 September 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019. 
  21. "Cainnt nan Leòdhasach ga rannsachadh" (in Scottish). 31 October 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  22. "Going online: The effect of mode of delivery on performances and perceptions on an English L2 writing test suite" (in English). Lancaster University. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2019. 
  23. "Language testing partnership wins eAssessment Award for Best Research" (in English). Science Direct. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018. 
  24. "Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language". Taylor Francis. Retrieved 26 March 2019. 
  25. "Iraqi university rebuilds after IS 'dark age'" (in English). 21 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018. 
  26. "Undergraduate Study". Lancaster University. Retrieved 24 March 2019. 
  27. "Free Online Courses". Lancaster University. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  28. "Eye-tracking Lab". Lancaster University. Retrieved 24 March 2019. 
  29. "Research Centres and Groups". Lancaster University. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  30. "Linguistics - Top Universities". Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  31. "Linguistics in global elite with QS World Subject Rankings 2019". Lancaster University. Retrieved 23 March 2019. 
  32. "Top 100 QS World University Rankings for linguistics 2011". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  33. "QS world university rankings 2014: linguistics". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  34. "QS world university rankings 2015: linguistics". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  35. "QS world university rankings 2016: linguistics". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2016. 
  36. "QS world university rankings 2017: linguistics". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  37. "QS world university rankings 2018: linguistics". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2018. 
  38. "QS world university rankings 2018: linguistics". Top universities. Retrieved 28 February 2018. 
  39. "Lancaster Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics and Language Teaching". Lancaster University. Retrieved 24 March 2019. 
  40. "Charles Alderson". Lancaster University. Retrieved 24 March 2019. 
  41. "Tony McEnery". Lancaster University. Retrieved 24 March 2019. 
  42. "Emily Gorman wins the 2018 Anna Siewierska prize". Lancaster University. Retrieved 9 July 2018. 
  43. "Geoffrey Sampson: Career". Retrieved 25 March 2019. 

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