Deconstructing written genres in Undergraduate Biology


  • Sally Humphrey Australian Catholic University
  • Jing Hao University of Sydney



Discourse Analysis, Genre


This paper reports on research which has investigated key genres of Undergraduate Biology. This investigation was conducted as part of the SLATE research project (Mahboob et al., 2010), a joint research project between the University of Sydney and City University Hong Kong (CityU) to support undergraduate students at CityU to achieve successful outcomes in their tertiary programme of study. Our research has focused on profiling genres concerned with doing and researching biology in the core courses of the undergraduate programme. The analysis is informed by perspectives from systemic functional linguistics and ‘Sydney School’ genre theory (Veel, 1997; Halliday, 2004; Martin and Rose, 2008; Hood, 2010) and draws on the analytical tool of the 3 × 3 matrix developed from SFL informed studies of academic discourse (Humphrey et al., 2010). The analysis has enabled key genres to be mapped in relation to learning across courses to build a spiral curriculum and for the linguistic resources which construe the genres to be made visible within the Deconstruction step of the Sydney school pedagogy known as the Teaching Learning Cycle. These understandings have enabled SLATE tutors to effectively support students in making the shift from ‘doing’ science in their first year of the biology programme to ‘extending’ scientific knowledge in their final Honours project.

Author Biographies

  • Sally Humphrey, Australian Catholic University

    Sally Humphrey is Senior Lecturer at Australian Catholic University, Faculty of Education Strasthfield, NSW.

  • Jing Hao, University of Sydney

    Jing Hao is a PhD candidate in the Linguistics Department of the University of Sydney.


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How to Cite

Humphrey, S., & Hao, J. (2013). Deconstructing written genres in Undergraduate Biology. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 7(1-3), 29-53.