Dr. Isabela Fairclough

Dr. Isabela Fairclough

Senior Lecturer

School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies

Livesey House, LH 114

+44 (0) 1772 89 3677


Subject Areas: English and Linguistics

Course Leader for BA (Hons) in English and a Modern Language
(Postgraduate) Research Degrees Tutor

Isabela’s research interests are in discourse analysis and argumentation theory (pragma-dialectics and informal logic). She has published on deliberation and decision-making in institutional contexts (with application to economic and environmental debates – austerity policies, fracking in Lancashire), framing theory and pro/con argumentation. Her publications include the monograph Political Discourse Analysis: A Method for Advanced Students (2012, Routledge).

Isabela is research active within the area of language, linguistics culture and society and is a member of the Research Unit for Speech and Language and the Institute for Citizenship, Society and Change.

Full Profile

Isabela has a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Lancaster (2004) with a thesis on the contribution of public intellectuals to the legitimation of liberalism in the transition from communism in Eastern Europe. Until 2010, she was Associate Professor and Course Leader for the M.A. in Discourse and Argumentation Studies at the University of Bucharest, teaching postgraduate modules in Pragma-Dialectics, Argumentation Theory, Critical Discourse Analysis and Media Discourse, and undergraduate modules in Semantics, Pragmatics and Critical Thinking.

At UCLan, she teaches modules in argumentation and rhetoric, discourse analysis, framing theory, cognitive semantics and pragmatics, on the BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics and BA (Hons) in English Language and a Modern Language. She has extensive experience of working as an IELTS and Cambridge Examiner for the British Council Bucharest (1997-2008,) and as IELTS Examiner and summer lecturer for the University of Manchester (2008-2015), as well as of teaching English for Academic Purposes at Lancaster University (2008-2011). She has taught discourse analysis on doctoral programmes at the Universities of Aalborg, Birmingham, Helsinki, Tampere, Napoli, Umea and the Lancaster Management School.

Isabela’s publications include 3 monographs and over 50 journal articles and chapters in edited books and handbooks.  (Recent publications can be downloaded from Academia.edu – see link further down this page.)


  • PhD Linguistics, University of Lancaster, 2004
  • Diploma de Licenţă, University of Bucharest (English Language & Literature/French Language & Literature), 1988
  • Visiting Graduate Student (Horia Georgescu scholar), University of Oxford, 1992-1993
  • Visiting Research Fellow, University of Lancaster, 2009-2011

Membership of professional and learned bodies

  • Trustee, Karl Popper Charitable Trust
  • Member of ISSA (International Society for the Study of Argumentation)
  • Member of BAAL (British Association for Applied Linguistics)
  • Member of Transdisciplinary Institute for Citizenship, Society and Change at UCLan
  • Member of  Cultural Political Economy Research Centre, University of Lancaster
  • Member of International Learned Institute for Argumentation Studies (ILIAS), University of Amsterdam/Jiangsu University (China)


Fairclough, I. (2019). Deontic power and institutional contexts: The impact of institutional design on deliberation and decision-making in the UK fracking debate. Journal of Argumentation in Context 8(1): 138-173. 

Fairclough, I. (2018). Chapter 16. Deliberative discourse. In Richardson, J. & Flowerdew, J. (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge, pp. 242-256.

Fairclough, N. & Fairclough, I. (2018). A procedural approach to ethical critique in CDA, Critical Discourse Studies. Special Issue: Ethics in Critical Discourse Studies 15(2): 169-185. DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2018.1427121

Fairclough, I. (2016). Evaluating policy as argument: the public debate over the first UK Austerity Budget. Critical Discourse Studies 13(1): 57-77. 

More publications

Full list of publications on Academia.edu at http://uclan.academia.edu/IsabelaFairclough


Research Activities

Isabela’s current research aims to reformulate argument schemes for practical reasoning in deliberative activity types from a critical rationalist perspective, i.e. with a focus on criticism, rather than justification. In her recent publications and conference papers, she has developed a deliberation scheme and a profile of questions for the evaluation of practical proposals in conditions of uncertainty and risk. She has studied the contribution made by institutional contexts to rational decision-making (e.g. in her work on the public debate on shale gas exploration in Lancashire) and redefined ‘framing’ processes from an argumentative perspective.

Isabela is also interested in a range of new developments in computational linguistics and artificial intelligence, including various types of software for the visualisation of arguments and for recovering inferential structures from texts, and the potential they have for detecting and assessing disagreement, and for increasing the rationality of public debate and decision-making.


(2018-2022) Secondary Proposer and Management Committee member of Horizon 2020 COST Action project CA 17132 European network for argumentation and public policy analysis, led by Dr Marcin Lewinski, New University of Lisbon

(2015-2017) Member of international research project Practical argumentation in the European energy and climate debates (2015-2017), led by  Dr Marcin Lewinski, New University of Lisbon

(2017-2019) Convenor of Preston Linguistics Circle, School of Humanities and Social Science

(2017-2019) As a member of ILIAS (The International Learned Institute for Argumentation Studies), Isabela is trying to develop closer links with both Jiangsu University (China) and the University of Amsterdam, via exchanges of academic staff (visiting scholars) and event organization, e.g. Distinguished Visitor Symposium (March 2017), Digital Humanities Workshop (February 2019).

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

LG2112 Framing the News
LG2104 Semantics & Pragmatics
LG3114 Discourse & Argumentation
LG3992 English Language & Linguistics Dissertation

Postgraduate teaching/supervision in the areas of discourse analysis, argumentation theory, framing theory, pragmatics, social policy.

External Activities

Member of scientific committee of ECA (European Conference on Argumentation) – Fribourg (2017), Groningen (2019) – and member of the Frans van Eemeren ECA Prize committee

Member of editorial board, Journal of Argumentation in Context (John Benjamins)

Reviewer for the journals: Argumentation, Argumentation in Context, Discourse & Society, Journal of Language and Politics, Critical Policy Studies, Critical Discourse Studies

External Examiner for Ph.D. these at the universities of Lancaster, Leeds, Helsinki, Tampere, London.


Pro/con argumentation: Framing issues in the evaluation of objections to practical proposals. Paper at the Third European Conference on Argumentation (ECA), Groningen, 25-28 June 2019.

Is there such a thing as a ‘conductive argument’? Redefining ‘conductive argument’ in relation to deliberation as genre. Paper at the 9th (ISSA) Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation, Amsterdam 3-6 July 2018.   

Institutional constraints and risk pluralism in argumentation from consequence in the UK fracking debate. Paper at the Second European Conference on Argumentation (ECA), Fribourg, 27-30 June 2017.             

What is framing and how does it work? DiscourseNet 19 International Conference - Discourse, Knowledge and Practice in Society, Bucharest, 7-8  July 2017 (keynote).

Climate change, energy policy and the ‘argumentative turn’ in critical discourse analysis of policymaking. Analysing the debate over fracking for shale gas in the UK. CADAAD International Conference, Catania, Sicily, 5-7 September 2016 (keynote).

Should fracking for shale gas be allowed in the UK? Critical analysis of deliberation and decision-making in institutional contexts and the public debate on fracking. Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference (IPA), Hull, 5-7 July 2016 (keynote).

Argumentation in critical analysis of social and institutional change. The public debate on universities in the UK, First European Conference on Argumentation (ECA): Argumentation and Reasoned Action. New University of Lisbon, 9-12 June 2015 (keynote).

Deontic reasons, risk and the concessive logic of conductive arguments in the debate over shale gas development in the UK. ARGAGE (Argumentation & Language) Conference. Lausanne, 9-11 September 2015.


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