Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Dr Frances Rock

Dr Frances Rock


+44 (0)29 2087 0277
3.56, Adeilad John Percival , Rhodfa Colum, Caerdydd, CF10 3EU


I am a Reader in the Centre for Language and Communication Research which is part of the School of  English, Communication and Philosophy.

My work draws on discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics and linguistic ethnography to investigate, teach and learn about language and communication in the social world.

I am a founding member of Cardiff Language and law (CaLL) and the Linguistic Ethnography Discussion and Study Group (LEDS) and a Fellow of the Crime and Secruity Research Institute.


I am a Reader here in the Centre for Language and Communication Research which is part of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. I came to work here directly from Roehampton University. I have also taught at the University of Birmingham and on the  International Summer School in Forensic Linguistics.

I completed a PhD at The University of Birminham on the communication of rights in police custody. I also hold an MA with distinction in Modern English Language from Lancaster University and a BA (hons, first class) from Cardiff University in Modern English Studies.

I have previously worked in industry, for the manufacturing company Northern Foods; as a Research Associate in Public Health and Epidemiology and in publishing posts for Trinity Publications and Robinswood Books. A one-time Cardiff undergraduate, I also hold an MA in Modern English Language from Lancaster University and a PhD in English from The University of Birmingham.

I an currently the Director of Cardiff's excellent and diverse doctoral programme in Language and Communication. For several years I have taken the role of Director, then Co-ordinator of Cardiff's world-renowned MA and Diploma in Forensic Linguistics.  I have also taken the role of the School's Impact Co-ordinator in preparation for the last Research Excellence Framework Exercise.  For several years I was CLCR's Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and also ran the CLCR Seminar Series for some time.

I am an Editor (with Dr Alison Johnson, Professor Peter French and Dr Michael Jesson) of Forensic linguistics: The international journal of speech, language and the law.

I have served on the  Executive Committee of the British Association of Applied Linguistics with  particular responsibility for the administration of the BAAL/CUP Seminar Series  and have served as Publicity Secretary of the International Association of Forensic Linguistics.






  • Rock, F. 2015. Bursting the bonds: policing linguistic ethnography. In: Copland, F., Shaw, S. and Snell, J. eds. Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Palgrave Advances in Language and Linguistics Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 147-165.




  • Rock, F. E. 2011. Variation and Forensic Linguistics. In: Maguire, W. and McMahon, A. eds. Analysing Variation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 199-218.
  • Rock, F. E. 2011. Forensic Linguistics. In: Simpson, J. ed. The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics. London: Routledge, pp. 138-152.







My undergraduate and postgraduate teaching includes such courses as:

  • forensic linguistics (at both MA and UG level)
  • ecolinguistics/language and the environment
  • discourse analysis
  • qualitative research methods
  • introduction to language and society
  • research skills
  • introduction to human communication
  • language, society and  power
  • language change
  • history of the English language
  • men, women and language / language and gender
  • pidgins and creoles

My work investigates the part that language plays in the mediation of experiences in the social world. This draws on close analysis of the communicative forms created when people make meaning together and the ways in which those forms are embedded in people's actions and activities.

Much of my research has been dedicated to the investigation of language within legal and workplace settings. With a particular focus on the police and legal advice I have examined texts, processes and practices through which information is passed between legal specialists and lay people, in both directions.

Until April 2018, I will be working on the AHRC-funded research  project Translation  and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in  Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities. This project, run by Angela Creese of Birmingham University's MOSAIC Centre, is a collaboration between Cardiff and the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, UCL and Birkbeck, London. Within this project we are examining communication in businesses, cultural and heritage sites, legal advice and sports contexts.

One of my current projects, FuzzyLaw, investigates lay people's writing about legal terms. You can take part in FuzzyLaw either by submitting data as a participant or by joining in discussion of submitted data.

My work uses a range of techniques, theoretical  frameworks and concepts drawn from discourse analysis, social practices  approaches to literacies, sociolinguistics, linguistic ethnography and  interactional sociolinguistics.

Research interests

  • police language
  • forensic linguistics
  • workplace language
  • ecolinguistics and language and the environment
  • information/document design
  • expert-lay communication
  • discourse analysis
  • literacies
  • linguistic ethnography
  • interactional sociolinguistics
  • recontextualisation
  • textual travel

Research impact

My research has had various practical outcomes. For example, it contributed to the development of a new written text to explain rights to people in police custody and new procedures to accompany that text. This text and accompanying procedures are the basis of those now in use in police stations throughout England and Wales.

I have collaborated with police officers in the redesign of a range of letters addressed to the public (witnesses, victims of crime and those complaining against the police). I have investigated interview techniques, particularly during witness interviewing and examined call-handling procedures during both emergency and non-emergency calls. I have coordinated projects with interpreters and police interview trainers, on interview openings, legal terminology and training around interpreted interviews both for interpreters and police.

I have a growing interest in ecolinguistics and have worked with colleagues at the British Antactic Survey examining representations of environmental issues relating to the Southern Ocean.

With a fabulous team including artists from Made in Roath and staff from The Trinity Centre, I organised an engagement event on the theme of "Belonging: Happiness in the City" which was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.  You can read about the event at the Tlang Blog (and see part 2 and part 3) and see photos on Flickr.

Postgraduate students

I am  interested in supervising PhD students in areas related to language and/in  legal settings, particularly policing, restorative justice, language and workplaces and ecolinguistics. I am keen to supervise work on migration and belonging. Studies which draw on linguistic ethnography, literacies, interactional sociolinguistics and discourse analysis would be of interest  along with work with an applied focus which aims to address real-world problems.

I have previously supervised work in areas as diverse as attitudes to accents and dialects, comprehension and comprehensibility of immigration documents, suicide negotiations, media representations of rights, product documentation and culinary practices.

Students who have successfully completed their doctoral studies under my supervision are:

  • Katy Brickley
  • Mark Griffiths
  • Elen Robert
  • Jaspal Singh
  • Marta Wilczek-Watson

Students who are currently pursuing PhDs with me are:


Past projects