MSc TESOL Modules

MSc TESOL Modules

English Language Learning and Teaching

This module introduces the frameworks which inform an exploration of language learning, teaching methodology and curriculum development in TESOL.  It provides opportunities to investigate the factors which affect learning, teaching and interaction in the classroom, and wider context of learning: the nature of language learning processes, the role of language, the roles of teachers and learners, and of learning and interaction theories in the development of pedagogy in TESOL. There is a consideration of issues and policy frameworks which guide curriculum planning decisions in terms of syllabus, test and task design, and TESOL perspectives on ICT and programme management.

Analysing Language for TESOL

This module explores approaches to the description of language in the discourse analysis tradition, looking both at the technical ways of representing discourse, and also at the cultural and contextual aspects of language use: the ways in which discourse achieves coherence. It engages with the different traditions in language description which underpin processes in TESOL such as syllabus and task design, learning materials, and language assessment.

Testing and Assessment

This module develops the skills needed to assess learners systematically, for determining the level of language proficiency for different purposes, and for supporting learning. There will be an opportunity to explore specific issues such as fairness (validity/ ethicality/impact and reliability) in assessment and teachers’ decision-making. It is designed to develop skills in critiquing language tests and other procedures.  You will use a range of statistics-based and other approaches to analyse test effectiveness and will devise and trial their own assessment packages, and analyse data generated by them. 


A distinctive and exciting part of the MSc TESOL is the six-week Internship –  a structured and supervised teaching experience in one of our well-established partner schools.

You have two options: ODILS (Open Doors International Language School) in Plymouth and UCBC (Universidad Chileno-Británica de Cultura) in Santiago, Chile.  [add hyperlinks]

  • You don’t need prior teaching experience – you’ll receive appropriate preparation before you go into the classroom.
  • If you do have teaching experience, the Internship will enable you to develop your skills further, informed by the input and assignments on the MSc modules.
  • You’ll be counselled in your choice of Internship through individual tutorials, and once on the placement you will receive high-quality induction and support from school-based mentors as well as University supervisors.
  • The Internship will take place after Term 2, in the months of March-May (exact dates to be confirmed). 
  • The internship experience provides excellent opportunities for long-term employment in a school or university setting after graduation.

Doing your Internship at Open Doors (ODILS) gives you an exciting opportunity to develop your TESOL skills working with learners with a wide range of socio-economic and educational backgrounds from over 40 different countries. The centre is located in the city of Plymouth, a short distance from the University campus.

UCBC is a relatively small, very friendly bilingual university in Santiago, with specialisms in English, Pedagogy and Translation. During the Internship you will teach English to students in one of the University’s language centres. Santiago is a lively modern city of five million people with a lifestyle comparable in many ways to Western Europe. After the Internship there’ll be the opportunity to travel in-country or in the region before returning to Plymouth.  

Click to see to a UK student talking about her time as a teaching assistant at UCBC

The Internship is, in many ways, a very important module, providing the opportunity to develop your TESOL skills in an authentic but supportive environment. It allows you to assimilate at a deeper level and put into practice what you have learned on other modules.  You will be expected to use this knowledge and awareness of key issues to underpin your teaching in an informed, principled and professional way so that you teach effectively and appropriately for the Internship context (either in UK or overseas). In addition to developing and demonstrating the requisite practical skills, you will be expected to become increasingly autonomous, analysing your own performance and identifying areas of your practice in need of further development.

Specialist options

After experiencing the core modules in Semester A and consultation with tutors, you will have the opportunity to choose two taught specialist half-modules on the activities of Materials design, Teacher training and development, Language assessment.  You will also have the option to replace one half-module (15 credits) or two half-modules (30-credits) with a tutorial-led Guided Independent Study on a topic of your own choice. 

a) Teacher Learning for TESOL

This module takes a reflective and discursive approach to teacher learning in relation to contexts where teachers teach English to speakers of other languages. Building on the learning of all participants and their experiences, the module explores aspects of developing expertise as a teacher and career development, such as moving from teaching to teacher education. The module provides opportunities to reflect on classroom practice and teacher learning in diverse socio-cultural and institutional contexts.

b) Materials and Task Design

This module provides the skills needed to critically and systematically evaluate text-based and electronic learning resources, and to plan and develop such resources as effective input for learning in a range of classroom contexts. You will engage in critical appraisal of resources for learning at both macro and micro levels. You will develop skills in adapting and supplementing learning materials for diverse groups of language learners.  Close analysis of a range of tasks will develop a critical approach to TESOL resources, informed by an understanding of the nature of second language learning processes and the contextual features of English language classrooms.

C) Guided Independent Study

This module is an opportunity to work on a TESOL topic or issue not addressed in the taught modules of the MSc in TESOL. You can take this module if you i) have satisfactorily completed two of the three core modules, and ii) successfully make a case for taking such a study on the form provided to the programme leader. The work can be completed in approximately 150 learning hours and the planned outcome can be reported in 3,500 words. You can take this module when a completed GIS form has been completed and agreed by the programme leader and GIS supervisor.

Research methods

This is part of the integrated module which links to the Extended Study. In this taught element of the module, you will be introduced to different contexts of research, and the role of research practices in improving professional TESOL skills. It covers:

  • research purposes in the social sciences and language education in general and in TESOL in particular
  • the role of research in understanding language learning, language teaching and language description
  • the role of existing research findings, professional context and culture in doing research
  • approaches and frameworks for designing and planning research studies, including ethical issues.

On completion of this taught section, you can choose to do either a research-based Dissertation or a practice-based Professional Portfolio for your Extended Study.

Extended study

You will be allocated an Extended Study Supervisor based on your choice of topic. Whether you choose to do a research-based or practice-based study, this is an opportunity to carry out a comprehensive, independent piece of work.  It allows you to develop your conceptual and practical research skills by designing and undertaking a library and/or empirical study of an issue in TESOL. The focus is on both theory-building and problem-solving, drawing on existing evidence of an interesting problem, the conceptual input from across the Programme, and your own critical and creative skills.