Professor Leonard Unsworth - Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education (Faculty of Education and Arts)

Fully accredited supervisor - Can supervise as principal supervisor


Len Unsworth is now Professor in Education at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. In recent years he has held professorial posts at Griffith University, and the University of New England, and was formerly Head of the School of Development and Learning in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. Len has been a chief investigator on six Australian Research Council funded Discovery and Linkage projects since 2005, which have included work on image-language relations in picture books, the nature and role of images in large-scale reading comprehension tests, students multimodal authoring using animation software, a good enough grammatics for English teaching in primary and secondary schools, pedagogies for cumulative learning in twenty first century schools, multiliteracies in senior high school science, and coding animated narratives in primary and secondary schools. Len's publications include Literacy learning and teaching (Macmillan, 1993), Researching language in schools and communities (Continuum, 2000), Teaching multiliteracies across the curriculum (Open University Press, 2001), [with Angela Thomas, Alyson Simpson and Jenny Asha] Teaching Children's Literature with Information and Communication Technologies (McGraw-Hill/Open University Press 2005), e-literature for Children and Classroom Literacy learning (Routledge, 2006), New Literacies and the English Curriculum (Continuum, 2008), Multimodal Semiotics (Continuum, 2008), [with Clare Painter and Jim Martin], Reading Visual Narratives (Equinox,2013) and [with Angela Thomas] English Teaching and New Literacies Pedagogy: Interpreting and authoring digital multimedia narratives. New (Peter Lang, 2014).


Phone :2738 (North Sydney)
URIs : Staff Directory Profile

Research Interests

English Education ; Multiliteracies ; Visual Literacy ; Children's Literature ; Systemic Functional Linguistics and Literacy ;

Methods Expertise

qualitative methods ; linguistic and semiotic analyses ; Case studies ; qualitative and mixed methods ;

Research Projects

Selected Publications


Unsworth, L., Cope, J., & Nicholls, L. (2019). Multimodal literacy and large-scale literacy tests: Curriculum relevance and responsibility. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 128-139.


Ge, Y.-P., Unsworth, L., Wang, K.-H., & Chang, H.-P. (2018). What Images Reveal: a Comparative Study of Science Images between Australian and Taiwanese Junior High School Textbooks. Research in Science Education, 48(6), 1409-1431. doi:10.1007/s11165-01

Mills, K.A. & Unsworth, L. (2018). iPad Animations: Powerful Multimodal Practices for Adolescent Literacy and Emotional Language. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 61(6), 609-620. doi: 10.1002/jaal.717


Macken-Horarik, M., Love, K., Unsworth, L. & Sandiford, C. (2017) Functional Grammatics: Re-conceptualizing knowledge about language and image for school English. London: Routledge.

Ge, Y.-P., et al. (2017). The effects of explicit visual cues in reading biological diagrams. International Journal of Science Education 39(5): 605-626.


Cheng, F.-W., & Unsworth, L. (2016). Stance-taking as negotiating academic conflict in applied linguistics research article discussion sections. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 24, 43-57.


Music, multiliteracies and Multimodality: Exploring the book and movie versions of Shaun Tana??s "The Lost Thing" , in Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37 (1), 3-20.

Point of view in picture books and animated film adaptations: Informing critical multimodal comprehension and composition pedagogy. , in E. Djonov & S. Zhao (Eds.), Critical multimodal studies of popular culture. London: Routledge. (pp201-216)

Interfacing Visual and Verbal Narrative Art in Paper and Digital Media: Recontextualizing Literature and Literacies. , in G. Barton (Ed.), Literacy in the Arts: Retheorising Learning and Teaching (pp. 55 - 76). Cham, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer. (pp. 55 a?? 76)

Multimodal Reading Comprehension: Curriculum Expectations and Large-scale Literacy Testing Practices, in Pedagogies: An International Journal, 9, 26-44.

Unsworth, L., & Thomas, A. (Eds.). (2014). English Teaching and New Literacies Pedagogy: Interpreting and authoring digital multimedia narratives. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.


Painter, C., Martin, J. R., & Unsworth, L. (2013). Reading Visual Narratives: Image Analysis of Children's Picture Books. London: Equinox.

Other information


2020 - 2023 $442,609 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant. L. Unsworth, K. Mills, G. Falloon. Coding animated narratives as contemporary multimodal authorship in schools.

2016-2020 $680,00 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. L. Unsworth, R. Tytler, L. Fenwick, S. Humphrey. Multiliteracies for addressing disadvantage in senior school science.

2013-2015 $360,241 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant Maton, K., Martin, J.R. Unsworth, L. Howard, S. Pedagogies for knowledge-building: investigating subject-appropriate, cumulative teaching for twenty-first century school classrooms

2011- 2013 $449951 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant Macken-Horarik, M., Unsworth, L., Love, K. Grammar and praxis: investigating a grammatics for twenty first century school English

2009-2012 $139,321 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant Bittman, M., Rutherford, L.Unsworth, L. 'Digital Natives': Growing up with new and old media in Australia

2008-2011 $195,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant L. Unsworth, A. Thomas. Teaching effective 3D authoring in the middle school years: Multimedia grammatical design and multimedia authoring pedagogy.

2006-2008 $192,764 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant
L.Unsworth + NSW Dept of Ed & Training New Dimensions of Group Literacy Tests for Schools: Multimodal reading comprehension in conventional and computer-based formats

2005-2007 $180,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant L.Unsworth, J.R. Martin C. Painter Image/text relations in narrative and information texts for children in print and electronic media: Multimodal text description for multiliteracies education.