Photograph of Sue Starfield

Sue Starfield

Prof Starfield is currently on leave. Please contact Pam Mort or The Learning Centre



Contact: LG13, North Wing, Chancellery Building
Telephone: +61 (2) 9385 - 3369

Sue Starfield is the Director of The Learning Centre and Professor in the School of Education at UNSW Australia. She is co-author with Brian Paltridge of Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language: A handbook for supervisors (Routledge, 2007) and they have co-edited The handbook of English for specific purposes (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). She was co-editor of the journal English for Specific Purposes from 2009-2014. Sue was the recipient of a 2008 Australian Learning and Teaching Council citation for an Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning for the development of a research-led innovative curriculum to support postgraduate research students' writing with significant impact on the field of postgraduate writing.

Sue was the recipient (with Brian Paltridge and Louise Ravelli) of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant 2008-2010 on the topic Writing in the academy: The practice-based thesis as an evolving genre. She was co-recipient of a 2011-2014 ARC Discovery Grant: A cross-national study of the relative impact of an oral component on PhD examination quality, language and practice.

Sue's current research interests include doctoral writing, writing for publication, postgraduate pedagogy and issues of identity in academic writing and language learning. With colleagues from the University of Sydney, Sue and Pam Mort of The Learning Centre were awarded a 2006 Carrick Institute Competitive Grant – Creating a student-centred online learning environment for report writing in the sciences and engineering.

Sue currently teaches Research Writing and Presentation, a course she has developed for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  She has also taught Developing a Research Proposal, a course for commencing postgraduate research students. In addition, she is involved in program development to enhance students' successful access to academic skills across the university.

Sue has also worked with Learning and Teaching UNSW on programs for new university teachers including Foundations in University Learning and Teaching and was a co-recipient of a Carrick Citation for her work on the Graduate Certificate in University Learning and Teaching.

Prior to moving to Australia, Sue worked for over fifteen years in South Africa, mainly at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she taught in academic programs to promote access and success in higher education for students who had been disadvantaged by apartheid education. She also worked with academic staff who wanted to make their teaching more responsive to the learning needs of the very diverse student body. Several papers published in the South African Journal of Higher Education discuss her work on integrating language and content in higher education. Three of these articles can be viewed here.

Sue's doctorate in Applied English Language Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand is a study of the development of students' academic writing within a disciplinary context and she has a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University of Paris III.  She also has a Masters in French Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Diploma in Teaching French as a Foreign Language from the University of Paris III.



Paltridge, B., Starfield, S. & Tardy, C. (2016). Ethnographic perspectives on academic writing. Oxford University Press.

Ravelli, L., Paltridge, B., & Starfield. S. (eds). 2014. Doctoral writing in the creative and performing arts: The researcher/practitioner nexus. Faringdon, UK: Libri.

Paltridge, B, & Starfield. S. (Eds). (2013). The handbook of English for specific purposes. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA, USA.

Paltridge, B. & Starfield, S. (2007). Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language. London: Routledge Falmer. The book can be previewed on Google Books

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Lovat, T., Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Fairbairn, H., Kiley, M., Paltridge, B., & Starfield, S. (2015). Examining Doctoral Examination and the Question of the Viva. Higher Education Review, 47 (3), 5-23

Starfield, S., Paltridge, B., McMurtrie, R., Lovat, T., Holbrook, A., Kiley, M., Bourke, S. and Fairbairn. H. (2015). Understanding the language of evaluation in examiners' reports on doctoral theses: An APPRAISAL analysis. Linguistics and Education, 31, 130-144.

Starfield, S., & Paltridge, B. (2014).Current and future directions in English for specific purposes research.Revue française de linguistique appliquée, 9-14.

Ravelli, L. J., Starfield, S., Paltridge, B. Tuckwell, K., (2013). Extending the notion of 'text': The visual and performing arts doctoral thesis, Visual Communication, 12 (4), 395 – 422.

Paltridge, B., Starfield S., Ravelli L. J., Tuckwell, K. (2012). Change and stability: Examining the macrostructures of doctoral thesis in the visual and performing arts, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 11(4), 332 - 344,

Paltridge, B., Starfield, S., Ravelli, L., Nicholson, S. (2012), Doctoral writing in the visual and performing arts: Two ends of a continuum. Studies in Higher Education, 37(8), 989 – 1003.

Paltridge, B., Starfield, S., Ravelli, L. & Nicholson, S. (2011). Doctoral writing in the visual and performing arts: Issues and debates. The International Journal of Art & Design Education. 30 (2), 242-255.

Ravelli, L. J. & Starfield, S. (2008). Typography and disciplinary identity in academic writing. Information Design Journal, 16 (2), 133-147.

Starfield, S. & Ravelli, L. J. (2006). 'The writing of this thesis was a process that I could not explore with the positivistic detachment of the classical sociologist': Self and structure in New Humanities research theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5 (3), 222-243.

Starfield, S. (2003). The evolution of a thesis-writing course for Arts and Social Sciences students: What can Applied Linguistics offer? Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8, (2), pp. 137-154.

Starfield, S. (2002). "I'm a second-language English speaker": Negotiating writer identity and authority in Sociology One. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 1(2), pp. 121-140.

Book Chapters

Paltridge, B.& Starfield, S. (forthcoming). Ethnographic perspectives on English for academic purposes research. In K.Hyland & P. Shaw (Eds.), Routledge handbook of English for academic purposes. London: Routledge.

Starfield, S. (forthcoming). English for specific purposes. In G.Hall (Ed.), Routledge handbook of English language teaching. London: Routledge.

Clement, N., Lovat, T., Holbrook, H., Kiley, M., Bourke, S., Paltridge, B., Starfield, S., McInerney, D. & Fairbairn H. (2015). Exploring doctoral examiner judgements through the lenses of Habermas and epistemic cognition. In J. Huisman & M. Tight (Eds.), Theory and Method in Higher Education Research III (Vol. 1, pp. 213-233). Oxford: Emerald.

Starfield, S. (2015).Quotidian ethics in the neo-liberal university: Research and practice collide. In Ethics in applied linguistics research: Language researcher narratives. P de Costa (Ed.). London: Routledge.

Starfield, S. (2015).Ethnographic research. Research methods in applied linguistics: A practical resource. B.Paltridge & A. Phakiti (Eds). London: Bloomsbury.

Starfield, S., Paltridge, B. & Ravelli, L. J. (2014). Researching academic writing: What textography affords. In J. Huisman and M. Tight (eds). Theory and Practice in Higher Education Research II. (pp. 103-120). Oxford: Emerald.

Ravelli, L. J., Paltridge, B. & Starfield, S. (2014). Diversity in creative and performing arts doctoral writing: A way forward. In L. Ravelli, B. Paltridge & S. Starfield (eds). Doctoral Writing in the Creative and Performing Arts: The Researcher/Practitioner Nexus. Faringdon, UK: Libri.

Paltridge, B., Starfield, S., Ravelli, L. J., Tuckwell, K., & Nicholson, S. (2014). Genre in the creative-practice doctoral thesis: Diversity and unity. In G. Garzone & C. Ilie (eds.) Evolving Genres and Genre Theory: Specialised Communication across Contexts and Media (pp.89-105). BrownWalker Press.

Starfield, S. (2013). The historical development of Language for Specific Purposes. In Carole A. Chappelle (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.

Starfield, S. (2013). Researcher reflexivity. Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. In Carole A. Chappelle (Ed.). Oxford, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.

Starfield, S. (2013). Critical perspectives on ESP. In B. Paltridge & S. Starfield (Eds) The handbook of English for specific purposes (pp.461- 479). Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA, USA.

Starfield, S. Paltridge, B. & Ravelli, L. J. (2012). ''Why do we have to write?”: Practice-based theses in the visual and performing arts and the place of writing. In Berkenkotter, C., Bhatia, V. K. & Gotti, M. (Eds.), Insights into academic genres (pp.169 -190). Peter Lang, Bern. 

Starfield, S. (2011). Doing critical ethnographic research into academic writing: The theory of the methodology. In D. Belcher, A. M. Johns, & B. Paltridge (Eds.). New Directions for ESP Research (pp. 174-196). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Paltridge, B. & Starfield, S. ( 2011). Research in English for specific purposes. In E. Hinkel (Ed.). Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning. Vol 2 (pp. 106-121). London: Routledge.

Starfield, S. (2010). Ethnographies. In B. Paltridge & A. Phakiti. (Eds.). Continuum Companion to Research Methods in Applied Linguistics (pp. 50-65). London: Continuum.

Starfield, S. (2010). Fortunate travellers: Learning from the multiliterate lives of doctoral students. In P. Thomson & M. Walker (Eds.). Routledge doctoral supervisors’ companion: Getting to grips with research in education and the social sciences (pp. 138-146). London: Routledge.

Starfield, S. (2007). New directions in student academic writing. In J. Cummins and C. Davison (Eds). The International Handbook of English Language Teaching. Volume 2. Norwell, Mass: Springer Publications. pp. 875-890.

Starfield, S. (2004). 'Wordpower: Negotiating success in a first-year sociology essay' in L. J. Ravelli & R. A. Ellis (eds) Analysing Academic Writing (pp. 66-83), London: Continuum.

Starfield, S. (2004). Why does this feel empowering?: Thesis writing, concordancing, and the 'corporatising' university. In B. Norton & K. Toohey (Eds). Critical Pedagogies and language learning (pp. 138-157). Cambridge University Press.

Starfield, S. (2001). "I'll go with the group": Rethinking discourse community in EAP. In J. Flowerdew & M. Peacock (Eds.), Handbook of Research on English for Academic Purposes (pp. 132-147). Cambridge University Press .

Starfield, S. (2000). Assessing students' writing. In B. Liebowitz & Y. Mahomed (Eds.), Handbook on the teaching of writing for university teachers (pp.102-117). Cape Town: Silk Road International Publishers.

Refereed Conferenc Proceedings

Cranney, J., Jones, G., Morris, S., Starfield, S., Martire, K., Newell, B., & Wong, K. (2008) Critical reading and writing (CRW) in first-year psychology: Mass screening and targeted assistance. In N. Voudouris (Ed.), Proceedings of the 43rd Australian Psychological Society Conference (pp. 145–148).

Research Report

Coleman, D., Starfield, S. & Hagan, A. (2003).) Stakeholder Perceptions of the IELTS Test in three countries. IELTS Research Reports, vol. 5, pp. 159-235.

Comissioned Research

Arkoudis, S. & Starfield, S. (2007). In-course Language Development and Support.  A discussion paper for a National Symposium: English Language Competence of International Students, August 2007. 
This paper was commissioned by Australian Education International (AEI) in the Department of Education,Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) for the National Symposium: English Language Competence of International Students, held on 14 August 2007 in Sydney.

Publications from the South African Journal of Higher Education

The following articles are available here in pdf form. They are for personal use only. Please do not post, distribute or forward copyrighted articles. When citing these articles, please cite the original source of publication (year, journal or book, as well as page numbers) as listed below. The publication details may not be found in all the articles themselves.

Starfield, S. 1996, The challenge of diversity: Staff, student and curriculum development (pdf).  South African Journal of Higher Education, 10 (1), 155-163.
Awarded South African Journal of Higher Education prize for research in higher education for best article published in 1995-96.

Starfield, S. 1990, Contextualising language and study skills (pdf). South African Journal of Higher Education, Special Edition, 142‑148. 

Starfield, S. 1990, Language and science: a new look at some old issues (pdf). South African Journal of Higher Education, 4(2), 84‑89. 
Awarded 1990 Southern Book Publishers’ Prize for Perspectives on Higher Education by South African Association for Research and Development in Higher Education.