Teaching of Systemic Functional Linguistics: Australia


Macquarie University

Department of Linguistics

Assoc. Professor David Butt
Assoc. Professor Christian Matthiessen
Dr Annabelle Lukin
Professor Pam Peters
Dr Alison Moore
Dr Canzhong Wu
Maria Herke
John Knox
Prof. Anne Burns

Courses at Macquarie cover every level from first year to postgraduate. See full list of undergraduate courses here.  Postgraduate courses are shown here.

NOTE: Macquarie offer many of the postgraduate courses via distance learning, including completion of doctorate degrees entirely online.

Some selected courses include:
Undergraduate Units
Ling 120 Living English a very basic introduction taken largely, but not exclusively by students majoring in education, media, literature, and cultural studies. 'Using functional grammar: An explorer's guide' (1995 reprinted 1996 and 1997) NCELTR, Sydney is a product of this unit. The 1997 edition includes an index , answers to the exercises, and corrections to the publisher's glitches in earlier editions.
Ling 211 Grammar and Meaning introduces the basic tools of functional grammar to linguistics students. This is a core unit in a coherent linguistics major.
Ling 215 The Linguistic Interpretation of Text uses functional tools to critique culturally significant texts.
Ling 248 Analysing New Media Explores various kinds of new electronic media, and examines them in terms of contrasting approaches to discourse, including SFL
Ling 317 Corpus Linguistics
Ling 318 Grammar and Meaning in a Multilingual, Typological Perspective  This unit surveys areas of meaning that are central to the grammar of any language and explores how these areas of meaning are grammaticalised in different languages, identifying patterns of congruence and incongruence across languages. The focus is on languages other than English, including Chinese, French, Japanese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Examples from languages are selected to bring out whole grammatical systems (such as transitivity or mood) rather than isolated categories. This unit is intended to help students develop descriptions of languages other than English and to work in a multilingual context, as in translation.
Ling 319 Grammar and Semantics - Systemic Organisation  models language as choice
Ling 320 Grammar, Semantics and Context - Stratification and Variation this unit attends to contextual features 
Postgraduate Units 
Ling 900
Grammar, meaning and discourse This core unit of the MA in Applied Linguistics introduces and applies the tools of SF grammar
Ling 907 Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature

Systemic functional grammar also informs  Ling 913 Literacy, Ling 915 translation and terminology, and Ling 919 Communication in the Workplace at post graduate levels.

Maria Herke teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in text analysis, grammar and meaning and communication skills, including units on the Masters of Translation & Interpreting and the Masters of Applied Linguistics. She convenes the distance units, LING900, LING907 and LING991 and is currently convening LING900 internal.


National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research

Susan Feez

SF: NCELTR at Macquarie University delivers a Postgraduate Certificate in TESOL. This course is offered to both full time and part time students and in on campus and distance mode.  (At present I am the co-ordinator of the course.)

The subjects are as follows:

  • Ling 950: Linguistics for the language teacher: The course is based on systemic functional linguistics but is adapted to the needs of beginning language teachers many of whom have no background in linguistics or grammar of any kind.
  • Ling 951: Sociocultural aspects of language teaching and learning: This course includes topics which relate to systemics, for example, language and culture, language and language learning and  critical literacy.
  • Ling 952: Language teaching methodology: This course is based on a text-based (genre) approach to teaching language.
  • Ling 953: Practicum.
More information about the course can be found on the website at http://www.nceltr.mq.edu.au


Department of Critical & Cultural Studies

Dr. Anne Cranny-Francis

University of Sydney

Department of Linguistics

Jim Martin (jmartin@mail.usyd.edu.au) teaches 4 SFLcourses a year - 3 in the undergraduate program and 1 in the MA. Courses for 2008 include:
  • LNGS2603 - Functional Grammar: This unit takes a functional view of grammar, considering the ways in which English is organised to build up our picture of reality, to enable us to interact in conversation and to make our contribution coherent and relevant. It is designed to give students analysis skills in the analysis of ideational, interpersonal and textual meaning in the clause, the nature of inter-clausal relations, and the structure of nominal, verbal and adverbial groups and prepositional phrases.
  • LNGS2604 - Discourse Analysis: provides an introduction to discourse analysis, which is concerned with the way in which texts are organised in relation to their social context. In linguistics, the term 'discourse' covers both a) the organisation of linguistic units above the sentence level (cohesion), and b) language in use or context (register and genre). The course will include analysis of texts combining language with image, from the perspective of critical discourse analysis.
  • LNGS3692 - Media Discourse: examines discourse-analytic approaches to media communication. The discourse of advertising and gender discourses in the media will form a special focus of the course. W e explore the politics of media discourses, the ways in which social identities are constructed in the media, differences between communication in various media (print, radio, TV, the internet), the rhetoric of persuasion, and the discourses of popular culture. The framework derives from functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis, as well as cultural studies.
At a postgraduate level, Jim Martin will teach in 2008:
  • LNGS7004 - Register and Genre in English: Introduction to the theory of genre and register; differences between grammatical and discourse structures; discussion of basic discourse systems; speech function and exchange structure, conjunction and continuity - reference - lexical cohesion; the interaction of discourse and grammar: cohesive harmony, method of development and argumentation; relations between language, register and genre; discussion of register systems; introduction to genre; schematic structure; code in relation to genre, register and language.
The department also offers an "offshore" Master of Applied Functional Linguistics for off-shore delivery at Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Department of English

Rosemary Huisman  takes a Systemic approach in teaching in the English Dept. The English Dept has several courses in SFL:  240 students in a first year course called Language in context, 70 in second/third year in an SFG course and 12 -15 annually in an MA course.

Department of French Studies

Alice Caffarel  (alice.caffarel@french.usyd.edu.au) teaches the following Systemic courses in the French dept.:
  • Second & third year courses:
    • Introduction à la linguistique systémique fonctionnelle (Introduction to French systemic functional Grammar).
    • La linguistique textuelle (Cohesion in French)
  • Fourth year course: La grammaire du texte (Discourse analysis)

Division of Professional Learning

The Division of Professional Learning also offers some short courses relevant to SFL:

  • Learning to Read: Reading to Learn: David Rose presents his innovative approach through a teachers professional development program. The program is applicable from middle primary to all high school levels.
  • Certificate of Grammar and Discourse Across the Curriculum: This course is aimed particularly at teachers of Stages 2-5 and aims to make explicit the SFL framework of the NSW K-6 syllabus and extend it to the discourse level. A great companion course for Learning to Read: Reading to Learn.

UTS- University of Technology, Sydney
Division of Language and Literacy

Pauline Gibbons
Jenny Hammond
Mary Macken-Horarik
Chris Nesbitt
Hermine Scheeres
Diana Slade
John Walsh

DS: "In our department we run postgraduate courses in TESOL, Adult Basic Education, LOTE, Numeracy, and an Applied Linguistics strand will be starting next year. We have a 2.5 year articulated program starting with the Graduate Certificate leading to the Graduate Diploma and then in the final year to the Masters course. Our language subjects are: Introduction to language, text and discourse 1, 2 and 3 (the names are changing this year) where 1 is introduction to language in social contexts, 2 is lexicogrammar and discourse and 3 is discourse analysis. In addition the subjects concerned with TESOL curriculum and mehtodology, ESP and assessment all include relevant aspects of lexicogrammatical and discourse descriptions as well as genre theory."

University of New South Wales

School of English, Media & Performing Arts

Louise Raveli
Gillian Fuller

Several undergraduate courses with SFL content are taught, including (for 2008):
  • ENGL2820 Analysing Communication (LR) Develops a set of analytical tools which focus on the grammar and discourse patterns of a variety of texts from different genres and registers, including literary, academic, media and everyday texts. Relates communication to its socio-cultural context and develops skills in interrogating and critiquing meanings made through communication.
  • ENGL2821 Visual Communication (LR)
  • MDCM2000 Researching and Writing for New Media (GF) - Studies formative innovative audiovisual texts and multimedia works. Introduces practices of researching and writing for audiovisual media and multimedia. Students concentrate on one area related to their media production specialisation. Script writing conventions, genres and presentation formats will be studied, and creative works developed ready for production.


School of Languages and Linguistics

 Peter Collins

University of Western Sydney

Cate Poynton
David McInness
John Collerson
Katina Zammit (Lecturer - Primary Literacy, k.zammit@uws.edu.au)
Jon Callow

KZ: "Myself and Jon Callow teach SFG in context of literacy and language subjects in undergraduate per-service teaching degree at Unversity of Western Sydney, Macarthur. I also teach post-graduate subject ( conversion to Fourth year - Bed subject) Functional Grammar and children´s literacy."

Wollongong University

English Language Studies (Faculty of Arts):

Elizabeth Thomson (coordinator)
Carmel Cloran
Gaetano Rando

Faculty of Education:

Bev Derewianka
Jan Wright

ET: The English Language Studies (ELS) major in the Faculty of Arts is a course of study which investigates the nature of academic English using Systemic-Functional Linguistic methodologies. The ELS major has a native and non-native English stream at 100 level. Students can also choose between a Professional English stream and a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) stream from second year. The majors includes a core subject, Introduction to systemic-functional linguistics which equips the student to use SF theory in an applied context in the other subjects in the major. There is also an Honours Program and PG course options.


University of Melborne

Department of Language Literacy and Arts Education

Fran Christie (f.christie@edfac.unimelb.edu.au)
Graeme Baker
Kristina Love

FC: "At the Master's level, I teach: one subject on the Functional Grammar; a follow up subject called Writing Development from Childhood to Adulthood, which builds on the SF grammar, and uses genre based theories. I also supervise several master's and PhD students using SF theory.

Others in the Department who use SF theory to inform pre-service teacher education programs are:

  • Graeme Baker, who teachers in the Bachelor of Education, and in one subject in the post graduate Bachelor of Teaching
  • Kristina Love, who teaches in the  two post graduate programs of the Diploma of Education and the Bachelor of Teaching.

Monash University

Terry Threadgold

Deakin University

Dr. Ghodra Kamyab
Dr. Ghodra Kamyab has been introducing systemic functional linguistics to students of TESOL and LOTE at Master level. Students who take ECL753 (Linguistics for language teachers) practice using SFL to analyse authentic texts written by ESL students at different levels of proficiency.


Queensland University of Technology

Linda Gerot

Central Queensland University

School of Contemporary Communication

Susan Yell,

I teach social semiotics and elements of SFL to communication and media students in a 2nd/3rd year subject called Communication Genres.  I find the students need to work fairly hard to become skilled in applying some basic
linguistic tools to the analysis of texts, but that the benefits are clear, particularly in unpacking interpersonal meanings through
modality/modulation.  This subject also uses Halliday's work on speech functions alongside critical discourse analysis.  Text/context relations (field, tenor and mode) are also taught in a first year subject called Introduction to Communication and Culture, taught by Tony Schirato and I. We wrote the textbook for this subject (Communication and Cultural Literacy) with a strong social semiotic bent.

Northern Territory

Northern Territory University

Peter Wignell

South Australia

University of Adelaide

Dept. of Linguistics

Peter White teaches 2 courses in 2nd year, and continues these in 3rd year: (see here for more information):

2nd Year
LING 2006       Language and Meaning     (1st semester) 
LING 2011       Mass Communication Discourses   (2nd semester) 

3rd year
LING 3006       Language and Meaning   (2nd semester) 
LING 3011       Mass Communication Discourses    (2nd semester)

At a Masters level, he teaches a similar course:

LING 5004 Language and Meaning (1st semester) 

Lexis Education

John Polias
Brian Dare

A company providing a range of expert services in the field of language, literacy and learning, with a particular focus on the area of English as a second language.

Their approach is very much based within SFL, and offer some of the best training courses in the world in regard to using SFL within the classroom.

For more information, see: http://www.lexised.com/index.htm.

Western Australia

Murdoch University, Perth

School of Humanities

Michael O'Toole
Mari Rhydwen
Antonia Chandarasegaran
School of Education

David Tripp
Institute of Education

Anne Mountford

School of Humanities: SFL has been taught at Murdoch since 1978, when Bob Hodge joined the School of Humanities ex-UEA. He is now at Univ of Western Sydney, and David Birch went to Central Queensland, so the systematists here are currently as above. Courses are listed below (all are one-semester courses, ie 13 weeks' teaching).

 Introduction to the Study of Language (150 students) [Michael O'Toole] is a Part I course which introduces students to SF analysis (using Suzie Eggins' book) and to methods of Critical Linguistics (using a reader of papers selected and timed to match the Eggins' chapters). This is a rigorous and difficult course, which loses some agrammatical students in the first weeks and fills the rest with a great sense of achievement once they see they wood as well as the trees. It is the preparation for:

  •  Language and Power(30 - 50 students) [Mari Rhydwen]: a Part II course applying SFL and CritLings to a range of written and oral texts in a variety of media. It has had a bias to the reporting and representation of Aboriginal problems. The coursebook is Fairclough and the accompanying reader uses papers by the UEA critlinguists + Lemke, Martin, Hasan, Halliday and local specialists on Aboriginal affairs.
  • Semiotics of Art (20 - 30 students) [Michael O'Toole] a Part II (usually 3rd year) course, applying SFL as a general semiotic model to the analysis of paintings, sculptures and buildings. The course book is O'Toole (1994), which takes about 8 of the 13 weeks with the students workshopping their own analyses of 2 works (in different media) of their choice. We then move to a more general semiotic discussion with a reader based on other semiotic models (Leach, Mukarovsky, Kristeva, Bryson, Bal) and art-historical theories (Wolfflin, Panovsky, Riegl).
  • Social Semiotics (60 - 80 students) [Alec McHoul] uses Hodge & Kress as a course book, set against a much wider collection of readings in cultural studies. Here SFL is a kind of methodological trace and source of evidence, rather than being central.
  • Language as Ideology (Part of an external MA, 10 students) [Mari Rhydwen] an external course that uses Hodge and Kress book of the same name and gives the students a fairly free rein to analyse whatever they are interested in.
Those 4 courses are in the Communication Studies programme. At the same time there are two Part I courses in the English & Comparative Literature programme which assume or introduce some basics of SFL:
  • Language & Literature (80 - 90 students) [John Frodsham] Analysis and theorising by eg Fowler, Hasan, Birch, Burton form the linguistic-stylistics third of this course.
  • English Language (for 30+ international students) [Antonia Chandarasegaran]
School of Education:  David Tripp runs a Part I course, Principles of Language and Reading, which is quite heavily influenced by SFL, even though not explicitly practising it.

Institute of Education: Offers: E103:  Principles of Language and Literacy Section 2: A Functional Approach
to Language. Written & taught by Anne Mountford (mountf@csuvax1.murdoch.edu.au). Contact: School of Education, Murdoch University, South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150. Ph 09 3606264, Fax 09 3105299.

Edith Cowan University, Perth

Anne Thwaite