Professor Fiona Douglas

Professor Fiona Douglas


I joined the School of English at the University of Leeds in 2003. Before that, I was Research Assistant for the Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech at the University of Glasgow.

I began my academic career focusing on Scottish dialects and corpus linguistics but since moving to Leeds, I have furthered my research interests in English dialects and sought to build on and extend the University of Leeds’ research excellence in this area.

MA, PhD University of Glasgow.

Research interests

My research straddles dialectology/sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and digital humanities. I research dialects of English (in England and Scotland) and the link between language and identity. Much of my work is corpus-based and predominantly lexical in focus, across a variety of text and discourse types. Over the years, I have built a variety of specialist corpora focusing on dialects, media language, public and political discourses.

My first book, Scottish Newspapers, Language and Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) is based on analysis of a sizeable diachronic newspaper corpus. It investigates which Scottish words and phrases the papers use and asks to what extent the use of identifiably Scottish lexical features helps them maintain their distinctive Scottish identities and appeal to their readerships. My second book, Political, Public and Media Discourses from Indyref to Brexit: The Divisive Language of Union (Palgrave, 2021) is another diachronic corpus-based study, and examines the divisive language surrounding debates on the futures of two unions: the United Kingdom and the European Union. I am currently working on a third monograph connected to the Dialect and Heritage Project.

Current research project

The Dialect and Heritage Project (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the University of Leeds’ Footsteps Fund and other alumni donations) focuses on the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture - a unique and nationally important collection, which includes all of the original materials from the world-famous Survey of English Dialects (SED) and materials from the former Leeds Institute of Dialect and Folk-Life Studies. The project marries these rich resources with partner museums' complementary and contemporaneous artefact and building collections, putting the LAVC back into the communities from which it was originally collected. I am working in partnership with five museum partners and the Brotherton Library’s Special Collections, and have developed data collection methods that incorporate public engagement activities and meaningful impact for participants, our partners, and public audiences as an integral part of the research process. We are sharing the collection and collecting present-day dialect from museum visitors, local community events, and online via the Dialect and Heritage Project website.

Graduate supervision

I am interested in supervising postgraduates (both Masters by Research and PhD) who want to work in the following areas: corpus-based English language research; dialects and non-standard varieties of English; media and political discourses. I have supervised the following topics:

  • The press and political participation: The politics of linguistic exclusion and inclusion in Ghana.
  • The use of corpora in secondary schools to support learning and to improve analytical skills.
  • A corpus-based analysis of the language of political leadership
  • Spinning New Yarns: A Linguistic Study of the West Yorkshire Textile Industry
  • Political Storytelling: The Use of Anecdotes in British Politics
  • Home without a home: A corpus linguistics analysis of discourses surrounding homelessness from 2010–2018


  • Douglas, F.M. 2021. Political, Public and Media Discourses from Indyref to Brexit: The Divisive Language of Union. (Rhetoric, Politics and Society series), Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2020.  English in Scotland. In Cecil Nelson, Zoya Proshina, and Daniel Davis (eds.) The Handbook of World Englishes (revised 2nd ed). Blackwell: Malden, MA, pp.17–33.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2017. Using archives to conduct collaborative research on language and region. In Chris Montgomery and Emma Moore (eds.), Language and a Sense of Place: Studies in Language and Region. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 128–146.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2016. Sociolinguistics in the museum: enrichment, engagement and education. In Robert Lawson and Dave Sayers (eds.), Sociolinguistics: Application and Impact. London: Routledge, pp.66–86.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2009.  Scottish Newspapers, Language and Identity, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2006.  English in Scotland. In Braj Kachru, Yamuna Kachru, and Cecil Nelson (eds.) The Handbook of World Englishes. Blackwell: Malden, MA, pp.39–68.
  • Douglas, F.M. and J. B. Corbett. 2006.  ‘Huv a wee seat, hen’: evaluative terms in Scots. In by G. Caie, C. Hough and I. Wotherspoon (eds.) The Power of Words: Essays in Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics in honour of Christian Kay, Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp.35–54.
  • J. B. Corbett and F.M. Douglas. 2003. Scots in the Public Sphere. In John M. Kirk and Dónall P. Ó Baoill (eds.) Towards our Goals in Broadcasting, the Press, the Performing Arts and the Economy (Belfast Studies in Language, Culture and Politics 10), pp.198–210.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2003.  The Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech: Problems of corpus design.  In Literary & Linguistic Computing 18:1, pp.23–37.
  • Douglas, F.M. 2002. The role of Scots lexis in Scottish newspapers, Scottish Language, 21, pp.1–12.

Media appearances and coverage

I have extensive media experience, including television interviews on BBC Breakfast, ITN News and Look North, radio interviews on the Today programme, World at One, BBC Radio 1, 2, 5 Live, most BBC regional radio stations, Times Radio, Talk Radio, CBC and BBC World Service and coverage on BBC Newsround. My research has featured in most UK national newspapers, as well as local and international publications, the Who do you think you are? magazine and The Conversation. I am available for interview or comment on dialect and wider language research issues.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD The role of lexis in Scottish Newspapers
  • MA English (Language and Literature)

Professional memberships

  • I have served as Secretary, Asst. Secretary and Executive Committee member on the Council for College and University English/University English), and in 2015 was a member of the 2015 QAA English Subject Benchmark Statement Commit

Student education

I teach across a range of English Language modules within the School of English and have taught modules at all levels.

I am committed to providing excellent learning opportunities for students. From 2019 to 2022, I was Director of Student Education in the School of English, and I have held numerous other School, Faculty and University student education roles over the years.

My work with museums has brought pedagogic research-led learning benefits for Leeds students. Students on my Dialect and Heritage option module have the opportunity to work as mini-researchers, undertaking individual research activities that sees work showcased within the museum environment and/or online. The Dialect and Heritage Project has provided similar volunteering opportunities for a broader range of students via the University’s alumni-sponsored Footsteps Fund. In 2009, I held a University of Leeds Teaching Fellowship which led to the development of a multimedia study skills resource - Studying and Researching English.

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>