Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Web-based Distance Learning MA


Fact file

MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Web-based Distance Learning
2 years part-time plus dissertation
Entry requirements
2:2 (or international equivalent), preferably with a focus on language teaching theory and methodology
Other requirements
Applicants with a degree in any other discipline and/or a relevant professional qualification must have at least nine months of full-time English language teaching experience and will be considered on an individual basis
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Jubilee Campus
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This online course will develop your critical understanding of recent developments in TESOL theory and practice and motivate you to reflect your own teaching.
Read full overview

The MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by web-based distance learning is taught entirely online and is suitable if you are:

  • a teacher of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), or working in a related profession
  • keen to build on your existing knowledge and experience, or seeking to improve your career prospects
  • interested in researching your own teaching practices or context

The course prepares you to conduct independent research into teaching and learning. To find out more about students' individual experiences of this course, you can view a selection of short videos from around the world. These student stories give practical advice for anyone thinking about studying at a distance and give you an idea about fellow students you would be communicating with should you decide to study online.

Find out more about online learning with the School of Education

If you prefer to study the MA TESOL in the UK, we also have a face-to-face course which can be studied full-time or part-time. 


Key facts

  • We are ranked 4th in the UK and 22nd in the world for education by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
  • In the latest Research Excellence Framework we ranked 3rd in the UK with 84% of our research considered world-leading or internationally excellent
  • All of our Research Excellence Framework submission relating to research impact and research environment was considered to be world-leading - our school is the only education submission to achieve this

Course details

This course is taught entirely online and is part-time only. The taught element takes two years, there is then an eight-month dissertation period. There are also Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma exit points. You can view an example timetable but please note this is subject to change.

The programme is structured so that you complete:

  • three core modules in your first year of study (a total of 60 credits)
  • four elective modules (from a choice of eight) in your second year of study (a total of 60 credits)
  • a 60-credit dissertation in your final year


Each 20-credit module is assessed by a written assignment of 4,000 words, and 15-credit modules by a written assignment of 3,000 words. To complete the masters programme successfully, a pass of 50 must be achieved on each assignment.

For award of the MA, you must also complete a 60-credit dissertation of 15,000 words which is an original piece of research on an approved topic.

Online course materials and support

Our online materials provide an interactive learning experience, and allow you to make decisions about which aspects of a module to work on when, and at what pace. You will be encouraged to interact with other course participants, and the module units will involve group activities such as using blogs, wikis, and discussion boards.

To ensure you have the appropriate computer requirements to enable you to study online, please view our computer specification guidance notes

Please note: If you are based in China, you may encounter restrictions on software used in some of our online modules. Please contact us to discuss this further.

Teaching experience

If you have a first degree that does NOT include a focus on language teaching theory and methodology, you must have a minimum of nine months' full-time classroom English language teaching experience (650 hours of part-time experience).

Please note that teaching experience calculation should NOT include any teaching practicum taken as part of a course. Consideration will also be given to applicants if you can demonstrate that your first degree included English language teaching methodology components, or that you have attended a substantial, approved TESOL methodology course and have a minimum of two months' full-time classroom English teaching experience (145 hours of part-time experience).

Written evidence of experience from employers should be submitted at the time of application. If you have part-time English teaching experience, you should show how your teaching hours have been calculated. If you have online teaching experience, you will also need to show how your hours have been calculated, and provide written evidence from employers.


To ensure your application is considered in time, please note the following deadlines apply:

Important dates
Start dateApplication deadline
4 September 2017 7 August 2017
12 February 2018 22 January 2018

Recognition of Other Learning (ROL)

If you have prior learning or experience at an appropriate level, you may apply for exemption for credit requirements for the course.

  • If you hold the Cambridge ESOL DELTA, you are eligible to apply for 40 credits to be set against two 20-credit core modules (The Language Learner and Language Learning and Developments in TESOL Methodology)
  • If you hold the Trinity DipTESOL, you are eligible to apply for 40 credits be set against two 20-credit core modules (Developments in TESOL Methodology and Applied Linguistics for TESOL)

Applications for consideration for remission under this scheme should be made at the time of application for admission and at least four weeks before the start of the course. All ROL applications for this programme are processed free of charge. Please visit our ROL pages for further information.



The details provided below reflect the MA TESOL programme that is currently being delivered. For 2017 entry we propose to offer a significantly revised and updated programme.

While the programme will continue to cover the key areas outlined below, module names and structures may be revised and up to date content added. The purpose of this is to enhance the practitioner focus of the programme and to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of language professionals in the future. Details of the revised programme will be added as they become available, so check back regularly for the latest information.

Core modules

There are three core, 20-credit modules, each of which is run over a period of four months once a year:

The Language Learner and Language Learning

The module focuses on key areas in the fields of language teaching and Second Language Acquisition (SLA), and explores them from the perspective of both language learners and teachers. These include:

  • theories of SLA
  • implications of first language acquisition for SLA
  • individual differences in SLA (gender, age, aptitude, motivation, attitudes, cognitive styles)
  • learning strategies and 'the good language learner'
  • the role of formal instruction in second language learning

You will be expected to read, understand and engage critically with the research presented on these topics.

Download the reading list

Developments in TESOL Methodology

The module focuses on topics which have been the subject of recent discussion and research in the field of TESOL. These include:

  • a historical review of language teaching methods and approaches
  • content vs. process syllabus design in language teaching
  • learner-centredness in language teaching
  • approaches to assessment
  • communicative teaching and task-based learning
  • recent developments related to the post-methods era including Content and Language Integrated Learning, Dogme

You will be expected to read, understand and engage critically with the research presented on these topics.

Download the reading list

Applied Linguistics for TESOL

The module focuses on key areas and recent trends in applied linguistics which are of considerable importance tothe field of TESOL, and explores them from the perspective of both language teachers and learners:

  • The history and scope of applied linguistics
  • Descriptions of language systems: phonology and pronunciation, grammar, lexis
  • Areas of applied linguistics particularly relevant to the teaching of productive skills, especially discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics
  • Areas of applied linguistics particularly relevant to the teaching of receptive skills, especially psycholinguistics
  • Trends in applied linguistics including broadening of the field, greater exploitation of computerised samples of growing cross-cultural insights

You will be expected to read, understand and engage critically with the research presented on these topics.

Download the reading list


Each of the core modules follows the same delivery pattern:

  • A 'soft start' introductory week
  • 10 weeks of structured engagement with the module materials
  • Six further weeks in which to complete the module assignment

Optional modules

After you have finished the core modules you will need to complete four 15-credit elective modules from the selection below. Typically, elective modules require a minimum enrolment of four students and may be withdrawn if this requirement is not met.

You will be asked to sign up online for each elective a minimum of three weeks before the module start date.

The 15-credit elective modules are:

Assessment in English for Academic Purposes

This module considers the following:

  • theories and issues in EAP test design and construction
  • assessing academic reading and listening
  • assessing academic writing and speaking
  • assessment criteria and giving feedback on assessment
  • understanding formal tests
English for Specific Purposes

This module will cover:

  • introduction to ESP
  • approaches to ESP course design 1 - needs analysis
  • approaches to ESP course design 2 - accountability in ESP
  • English for business purposes (EBP)
  • one-to-one teaching in ESP
Issues in Teaching English for Academic Purposes

This module considers the following:

  • Internationalisation of Higher Education
  • English as the language for communicating research
  • EAP and Academic Literacy Education
  • Teaching EAP to students with a low level of English
  • The EAP tutor as a practitioner and scholar
Learning to Train

This module considers the following:

  • issues in teacher training
  • development pathways
  • developing activities for teacher training
  • observation of teaching
  • investigating the talk of teaching and training
The Management of Language Teaching Organisations

The module covers:

  • organisational structures and policies of language teaching organisations
  • the applicability of general approaches to management and leadership to TESOL
  • managing staff: staff selection, appraisal and relations, staff development
  • managing change
  • issues in marketing and finance
Materials Evaluation and Design

The module will cover the following topics:

  • reasons for using teaching materials
  • who should design materials and how
  • evaluating commercially produced materials
  • appropriacy and authenticity
  • the future of materials evaluation and design
Technology-Enhanced Language Learning

This is largely a practice-based module which covers:

  • the history, principles and future of Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL)
  • the Web (webquests, creating a simple webpage)
  • Web 2.0 (eg blogs, social networking, podcasts, wikis, Second Life)
  • mobile language learning
  • integrating TELL into the classroom

A major part of the module consists of a group project in which you plan, create, evaluate and (individually) report on a TELL activity of your choice.


It is possible to replace two 15-credit electives with one 30-credit online module from our MA Education (Flexible) programme. Alternatively, you can replace two 15-credit electives with one 30-credit MA Education module taken intensively face-to-face at Summer School in the UK (subject to availability). If you wish to study one of these modules, you will have to, in the first instance, consult the course leader of the MA TESOL (web-based).

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Funding information is available on the school website. Funding information can also be found on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Career destinations for our graduates include counsellors, education advisers, language tutors, primary and secondary school teachers and vocational and industrial trainers and instructors. A number of our graduates are already in employment while undertaking part-time study and study for professional development within their chosen career.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 91% of postgraduates in the School of Education who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

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