Sumin Zhao



I received my academic training as a text linguist in the Hallidayan tradition at the University of Sydney. My areas of expertise include Discourse Analysis, Multimodality, Social Semiotics, and Systemic Functional Grammar.

I joined LEL in November, 2018 as a Lecturer in Discourse Analysis and promoted to Reader in April, 2024. Prior to joining Edinburgh, I held the Carlsberg Distinguished Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Southern Denmark (2016-2018) and the Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Technology Sydney (2013-2016). I was a visiting research associate at UCL Institute of Education in 2015 and 2016. 

I am a speaker of Mandarin Chinese (Standard & Lower Yangtze) and Shanghainese.


Undergraduate teaching

I teach DA-related topics in the following courses in the 2023-24 academic year. 


Semester 1: Introduction to Multimodality (MSc): CO

Semester 2: Discourse Analysis (Honours & MSc), CO 



Postgraduate teaching

Please refer to UG teaching information above. 


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I have limited supervision capacity at the moment, so I would only be able to supervise PhD topics on video-sharing platforms and multimodality. 

I also accept PhD applications through the CDT doctoral training programme Designing Responsible Natural Language Processing:






Current PhD students supervised

  • Tiffany Pang (Lead) The online discourses of "Princess Syndrome" in the Taiwanese context
  • Andre Theng  (Lead) Social media and the catholic church
  • Alexandera Sevastynova (Lead)  Russian speaking influencers and mental health discourse 
  • Bonnie Liu (Lead) Professional and gender identities of Taiwanese Youtube vloggers
  • Kamolwan Joncus (Lead) Thai parental groups on Facebook 
  • Humin Xiu (Advisory Board, National Institute of Education, Singapore) Laowai micro-influencers on Chinese social media)
  • J R Wells (second)
  • Natalie Lau (second, SPS) 
  • Narae Park (second, LLC) Discourses of Multiculturalism in Korean
  • Shutong Han (second, LEL)  Stylisation and Identity Construction

Research summary

  • Digital literacies and multimodal practices of young children: the design and use of mobile applications in the early childhood context, digital literacy practices of immigrant families with young children, picture books and transnational text flows
  • Multimodality and social media discourses: selfies and digital genres, the discourses of childhood & motherhood, technology-mediated multimodal interaction

You can find a list of my publications here,


Knowledge exchange

  • I am an editor for Functions of Language ( and serves on the editorial board of Frontiers in Communication. 
  • I am the convenor of BAAL SIG Language & New Media. 
  • I am a member of the International Collective of Research and Design in Children's Digital Books.
  • I participate in the COST DigiLiTEY action ( and acted as the Danish representative in 2017 and 2018.

Research activities

View all 56 activities on Research Explorer