Teaching of Systemic Functional Linguistics:
Mainland Europe


University of Ghent

English Department

Miriam Taverniers

Link to the course homepage:

University of Leuven

Linguistics Department, English section

Kristin Davidse
Liesbet Heyvaert
An Laffut
Jean-Christophe Verstraete

The following SFL courses are on offer during the academic year 1999-2000:

  • within the programme ‘Germanic Languages’ (a four-year programme roughly equivalent to a B.A. (Hons))
    • F453 English Linguistics II (1st and 2nd term): The aim of this course is to give the students a working knowledge of the most important text-creating devices in English. Among the topics covered are: texture and structure of a text: lexical cohesion, reference, ellipsis, substitution, conjunction, generic structure; clause complex and process types. The students should be able to apply these analyses to real texts and to interpret the results within a register framework.
    • F475 English Theoretical Linguistics (1st term): The aim of this course is to acquaint the students with one specific theoretical-descriptive approach to process-participant configurations in the English clause. The analysis that will be considered is a further development of MAK Halliday’s description of process-participant configurations. The refinements proposed are concerned, amongst others, with the introduction of transitive versus ergative configurations in the three domains of material, mental, and relational processes, and with a more delicate description of the relational domain (various types of identifying, existential and possessive clauses). At the end of the course the students should have gained more insight into the theoretical problems associated with this area such as the formal motivation of the experiential configurations and the status of paradigmatic clausal variants as formal evidence.
    • F476 English Applied Linguistics (2nd term): The aim of this course is to let the students explore the descriptive construct of ‘collocation’ in depth and, then, let them work with this principle on real language data. First, the development of the concept will be traced, with its origins in the work of Firth, via the important impetus given to the concept by Sinclair, up to recent developments within  COBUILD research. Secondly, the descriptive concepts proposed in the literature (semantic prosody, skew vs equi-probable systems, classification of collocates, etc.) will be applied to concrete concordance data.
  • within the postgraduate programme ‘Linguistics’ (a one-year programme comparable to an M.A.):
    • Methodological developments in the study of lexical and grammatical meaning (2nd half of 2nd term): The aim of this part of the course is to confront the students with the heuristic value of paradigmatic variants, or agnates, of constructions, and to stimulate reflection about the possibilities and constraints of argumentation based on paradigmatic variants:
      • delineation of systemic structural variation;
      • identification of verb classes with the same construction potential;
      • identification of construction types (and disambiguation of apparent structural identity);
      • correlation of structural elements with semantic features.


University of Southern Denmark

Institute of Language and Communication

As members of the local SFL research group (http://www.sdu.dk/sfl) we supervise Ph.D. students and teach various courses in SFL (including multimodality) in the following languages:

  • Danish:
    • Thomas Hestbæk Andersen, thandersen@language.sdu.dk
    • Morten Boeriis, boeriis@language.sdu.dk
    • Christian Mosbæk Johannessen, cmj@language.sdu.dk
    • Flemming Smedegaard, fsm@language.sdu.dk
    • Sune Vork Steffensen, vork@language.sdu.dk
  • English:
    • Carl Bache, cba@language.sdu.dk
    • Nina Nørgaard, noergaard@language.sdu.dk
  • German:
    • Uwe Helm Petersen, uhp@language.sdu.dk


Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest,

English Department

David Banks

The linguistics component of our English degree has a good deal of SFL input, particularly in the 3rd year which is specifically SFL based. Teaching is in English. Until recently we were the only university in France with any SFL teaching, but it has recently been introduced at Strasbourg and Reims.

We have a 5th year course (M2 – 2nd year Masters) for students who are potential doctoral candidates. The linguistics option has 2 (out of 4) SFL-based modules. This course in taught in French.

We also have a 5th year vocational course (M2 "Rédacteur-Traducteur") in technical writing and translation. The linguistics component of this course is mainly SFL. This course is taught in Englsh. There are a number of postgraduate students preparing dissertations or theses under the supervision of David Banks.


University of Bremen

English Department

John Bateman (bateman@uni-bremen.de)
Kerstin Fischer
Guowen Yang

John Bateman: Courses are offered within the English Deparment, but are also open to students from the Linguistics Department, Computer Science and Media-Informatics. Many of the courses are directly built on systemic-functional linguistic approaches and basic knowledge such as transitivity, appraisal and textual organization (theme, cohesion, etc.) are regularlyl covered in the first 4 semesters. Every year there is one compulsory introduction to linguistics course for around 70 students, and this is also very strongly influenced by the systemic perspective.

The degree programme at Bremen is the traditional German one of a Magister divided into a two year foundation phase and a two year further phase for more advanced courses. Students study English with either a further main subject or two further minor subjects. Within English they must study Literature and Social History in addition to Linguistics, but can set their own focus within the last 2 years so that study typically concentrate on one area rather than all three. Since the most usual expectation is still that studying English is Literature based, there are still relatively few students who take up Linguistics within English as their main area. We are trying to counterbalance this tendency by further consolidation across the linguistics offering of the faculty, i.e., including both the Linguistics Department proper (which is currently typology based) andthe linguistics sections of the other modern language departments in a more cohesive structure. This will be facilitated by the gradual move away from the Magister type framework to a more modular organization reminiscent of programmes in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere. There is also a parallel programme for training teachers of English, which follows the Magister structure with the addition of didactics and other practical components specifically for teacher training. A number of larger research proposals are currently being prepared, in areas ranging from multimodal semiotics to human-robot interaction. Systemic, or systemically-inspired, approaches will play central roles in all of these.

Saarland University

Dept.of Applied Linguistics, Translating and Interpreting

Prof. Dr. Erich Steiner (erich@dude.uni-sb.de)
Dr. Robert Spence

Description: SFL is taught regularly in a variety of courses. This is not a "one-theory institution", so SFL is always taught in the context of its applications and of other theories.

Robert Spence writes: "In the first semester of our B.A. course, I offer a Phonetics lecture which is based in part on Halliday and Greaves' "Intonation in the Grammar of English", and also an introductory Language Course which uses Halliday's "Spoken and Written Language" plus Halliday and Hasan's "Language, Context, and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social-Semiotic Perspective" as reading material. In the second semester, I offer a course in English Grammar using parts of IFG 2, IFG 3, and Matthiessen's "Lexicogrammatical Cartography". My lectures on Culture Studies are cast within the tradition of British materialism. In the M.A. course for French-speaking students I offer an Introduction to Translation course based on British register theory and SFL."

Technische Universität Darmstadt

Englische Linguistik, Institut für Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

Prof. Dr. Elke Teich
Dr. Sabine Bartsch
Monica Holtz
Anke Schulz


University of Bologna

Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Prof. Donna R. Miller (Chair of English Linguistics, Head of the English Language Studies Program and Director of CeSLiC, center of linguistic-cultural studies in LILEC) (donnarose.miller@ unibo.it)
Dr. Sabrina Fusari (sabrina.fusari2@unibo.it)
Dr. Marina Manfredi (marina.manfredi@unibo.it)
Dr. Monica Turci (monica.turci2@lingue.unibo.it)

In the light of our teaching and research experience in recent years, the English Language Studies Program has been thoroughly revisited and revamped. In 2014, we began to radically rethink the whole three year syllabus of the linguistics component of the undergraduate courses - now known as ‘English language and linguistics’, rather than merely, and less accurately, ‘English language’, as back in 2004 when we started this SFL-based adventure. The new name was a long-desired change, one that we actively struggled for, as it clearly better mirrors the structure of the course, divided as it is between practical language learning classes and lectures/ practice in language awareness.

Although contents are still progressively and cumulatively learned over the three years, we opted to simplify and rationalize them and also provide for more, and earlier, hands-on practice for students using pertinent and, we hope, enjoyable texts. Making the courses more client-friendly was a guiding principle since, to be frank, the need for putting paid to the die-hard myths surrounding the study of grammar that see it as a boring, or even elitist, enterprise, one that is basically meaningless, had not yet been adequately dealt with. At the current time, the revision is still to some degree being experimented and so should be seen as still ongoing.

First of all, a word on what has not undergone change. We are more than ever convinced that the best, indeed the ideal, model for teaching language awareness to our NNS of English is Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). Our students come into the program with considerable competence in English, but with negligible language awareness, which they need, and so also need guidance to. Opting for SFL as a theoretical framework over 15 years ago was based on the premise that it “offers a rich interpretation of meaning through Halliday’s theory of metafunctions” (Macken-Horarik et al. 2015: 148) - and we wanted our students to learn how English ‘means’, as well as learn how to ‘mean’ in English. We were - and remain - convinced: 1) that to learn how to mean in L2, one must firstly understand the mechanisms of a language; 2) that to do that, one needs to be able to identify the functions and intersecting options of those mechanisms, and 3) that to think and talk about these, as a means of interrogating meaning which is instantiated in text, a metalanguage is essential (cf. Moore & Schleppegrell 2014: 93). Thus, over the three years, we progressively provide students with SFL metalanguage - from scratch, as the Italian secondary schools in which SFL is taught are still few. With that metalanguage we believe that we can better tackle some of the main challenges faced by L2 English teaching/learning in the 21st century, e.g.: enhancing students’ knowledge of language as a multi-functional resource to produce meaning, and so also improving 1) their awareness of the effects of linguistic choices made with reference to meaning potential and 2) ultimately their own competence to actively exploit them (cf. Macken-Horarik et al. 2011).

But learning how to mean in English as a NNS comprises helping our students to see the learning of a language as a valuable opportunity to explore “some of the most important and pervasive of the processes by which human beings build their world“ (Christie 1985/1989: v). And the opportunity extends to an ability to also participate in those processes, in keeping with the concept of SFL as a socially-accountable linguistics, conceived as a form of political action (cf. Hasan & Martin (eds) 1989: 2). We don’t see such aspirations as either quixotic or impracticable, though there is no doubt that we’ve set our sites on high.

The 2017 edition of the third year course book and the Translation volumes, selectively used in our post-graduate Translation course, are available from: here.

Padua University

Carol Taylor Torsello

CT: "The title of the course is "English Linguistics" and it is taught to students majoring in English Language and Literature in the Humanities Faculty. The course is different each year but the approach, and much of the reading material, is systemic. Many of the students who take the course also do their final thesis with me, in many cases creating a corpus and analyzing it in ways they have learned during the course. "

Pavia University

Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

Dr. Maria Freddi (maria.freddi@unipv.it)

Within the degree course in Modern Languages, Maria teaches:

  • Grammar between text and context (course code: 53143): The course is designed for students of English as a Foreign Language in the first year of their degree in Modern Languages at the Faculty of Arts. It offers an account of how the English clause works in relation to its context of use, based widely on Halliday's model of grammar. Runs 1st Semester. Website: here
Maria is available to supervise Ph.D.s, her topics of specialisations include: functional grammar, corpus linguistics, ESP (particularly the discourse of science and technology) and EAP.

Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Anthony Baldry

Anthony Baldry is an associate professor in English language and translation. He is a leader in the fields of multimodality, multimediality, hypertext development and e-learning. He is one of the main developers of the Multimodal Corpus Analysis System, for annotation of multimedia corpora.

Trieste University

Chris Taylor (Chair in English Language and Translation)
Eliabeth Swain

Chris's interests include the theory of translation of film scripts, multimodality.

Elizabeth's interests include discourse analysis, translation and English for specific purposes, language and humour, the secret discourse of foreign policy making and a contrastive analysis of thematic organization in English translations of Italian narrative texts.


University of Oslo

Department of British and American studies
Hilde Hasselgard (hilde.hasselgard@iba.uio.no)

HH: "We teach an SFL course at the University of Oslo, and I have taught the same course at Østfold college. I've set up a homepage for the two courses at http://www.hf.uio.no/~hhasselg/systemic/

Contact:  Hilde Hasselgård
Department of British and American studies (http://www.hf.uio.no/iba/)
University of Oslo
PO box 1003
0315 Oslo

�stfold University College

Faculty of Business, Languages and Social Sciences
Daniel Fryer (dlfryer@gmail.com)

I teach a course titled Systemic-Functional Grammar (Engelsk: Systemisk-funksjonell grammatikk, course code: SFE20811), and it is designed to introduce students to the theory and application of SFG, across a range of text types, including multimodal texts. The module is taught in English, and it's offered to students as part of their second or third year of bachelor study, as part of an English extension course, and as a standalone unit. Course details (in Norwegian) available from here.


Lisbon University

Carlos Gouveia


Universidad de Alcala de Henares

(Carmen Santamaria?)

Universidad de Alicante

English Studies

< Dra. María Martinez Lirola (mlirolaa@yahoo.es)

María teaches the following SFL course:

  • The relationship between language, context and text. An introduction to Michael Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar (1st semester, 3 credits, 30 hours). Aimed at presenting the postgraduate student with the essentials of SFG. The syllabus will be developed by means of both theoretical and practical lessons. The former will be devoted to lectures on the contents of the programme. The latter will include several tasks: revision of bibliographical readings and exercises intended as examples of the application of this model to the description of English. Objectives: 1) To distinguish between formal and functional approaches to language; 2) To define and apply the fundamental concepts in Systemic Functional Linguistics; 3) To know the historical perspective, the evolution and the social characteristics of SFL; 4)To understand Halliday’s complete model of linguistic description. 5) To apply the ideational, interpersonal and textual metafunctions to the analysis of texts; 6) To know the different applications of SFL and to be able to use them in the analysis and description of authentic texts.

Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

Department of English Studies

Laura Hidalgo
Ana Llinares
Tom Morton
Susana Murcia Bielsa
Mick O'Donnell
Jesus Romero
Rachel Whittaker

Various courses which include a Systemic-Functional orientation. Explicit SFG courses for 3rd and 4th years, and at Masters level.

A list of undergraduate and doctorl courses is available here.

The following courses are SFL or SFL oriented:

  • Discourse Analysis. 4th year, Obligatory. Details here.
  • English Language II. 2nd year, Obligatory. Details here.
  • Monographic Course on English Linguistics (an overview of the SFL model). 3rd or 4th year, Optional. Details here.

Contact: rachel@uam.es

Universidad de Castilla La Mancha

Department of English Studies

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Department of English Studies

Julia Lavid
Jorge Arús Hita
Marta Carretero
Juan Rafael Zamorano

MC: "At this University, one of the most important textbooks is Downing and Locke (1992) "A University Course in
English Grammar", which can be ascribed to systemic linguistics. Following this book, grammar and discourse analysis are taught from a systemic perspective (although it differs from Halliday in certain respects: for instance: Downing and Locke do have a chapter on verb complementation, and the syntactic analysis they propose is significantly different from Halliday). "

Universidad de Cordoba

Vicente Lopez-Folgado
Antonio Leon Sendra

Universidad de Jaen

Dept. of English Philology

Dr. Alfonso Rizo-Rodríguez
Dr  Rizo-Rodríguez teaches a course on Systemic-Functional Grammar at the University of Jaen.


Dr. Alfonso Rizo-Rodríguez
University of Jaén
E-23071 Jaén
Tel. 34 953 212135    Fax 34 953 212197
E-mail: arizo@ujaen.es

Universidad de Valencia

Antonia Sanchez Macarro