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 (multimodal & critical), Social Semiotics, and Systemic Functional Grammar.

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 and Shanghainese. 


Undergraduate teaching

I teach DA-related topics in the following courses in the 2020-21 academic year. 


LEL 1A (pre-honours): Discourse Analysis 

Pragmatics (honors/MSc): Applying coherence theory in clinical settings

I am the course organizer for Discourse Analysis (Honors & MSc).  



Postgraduate teaching

Please refer to UG teaching information above. 


Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Apart from the topics directly related to my research, I am willing to consider thesis topics in the following three broad areas:

  • Multimodality: I am particularly interested in projects using video-data
  • Linguistic Ethnography in the context of early childhood (3-8): carer-child interaction, peer interaction, & joint-reading practices
  • Text linguistics: English & Chinese



Current PhD students supervised

  • Tiffany Pang (co)
  • Andre Theng  (Lead)
  • Alexandera Sevastynova (Lead)
  • Bonnie Liu (Lead)
  • Zhao Xiyan (second) 
  • J R Wells (second)
  • Natalie Lau (second, SPS)

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 the book review editor for Discourse & Communication (Sage) 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 41 activities on Research Explorer