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Course overview

If you are a current language teacher, or interested in pursuing a career in teaching, this course is for you. We explore key issues in English language teaching from multiple perspectives, including:

  • second language acquisition
  • motivation and individual learner differences
  • psycholinguistics
  • discourse analysis
  • corpus linguistics

Our compulsory modules will give you a grounding in quantitative and qualitative research methods and key issues central to our understanding of second language acquisition.

You are also able to choose optional modules, which cover topics including:

  • language teaching: speaking and listening
  • group dynamics and motivation
  • English vocabulary: teaching and learning
  • psychology of language
  • intercultural communication

Why choose this course?

Ranked 9th

in the UK by 'research power'

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Get involved

and attend research events with the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL)

Top 100 University

Ranked in the top 100 Universities

QS World University rankings 2021

Want flexible study?

specialise in one of ten areas on our MA Applied English Distance Learning Programme

Course content

Pre-arrival reading lists will be sent out with registration information before you join your course, where available.

The total credits for this course are 180.

Part time students

Part time students will typically take three modules each academic year. You can take one in the autumn term and two in spring, or vice versa, depending on your preference and module choice.

The dissertation will take place over the final summer of your studies.

All classes take place during weekdays.


During the autumn term, you will take the following 20-credit core modules:

Advanced Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

Explore various approaches of collecting and processing data, using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

With a focus on the area of applied linguistics, you will be introduced to:

  • methods of collecting quantitative and qualitative data
  • questionnaire and interview design
  • the use of the statistical software SPSS in quantitative data analysis
  • qualitative data analysis and interpretation
  • best practices in presenting quantitative and qualitative results

This module is worth 20 credits.

Second Language Acquisition

Arguably the most important subdiscipline for the understanding of language teaching is SLA; therefore, this module will focus on this area to ensure that students have a sound understanding of how language is learned.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 30 April 2021.

You choose either three or four 20-credit optional modules from the below list:

Language Teaching: Speaking and Listening

The main focus of this module is an exploration of methods for teaching L2 speaking and listening, as rooted in instructed EFL and ESL classroom environments. Participants will consider various aspects related to teaching L2 speaking and listening, including spoken grammar, fluency, pronunciation, strategies and input. Module content will draw on relevant bodies of research which inform approaches to teaching, and will relate this to a practical critique of L2 textbooks, materials and activities. Throughout the module students will have the opportunity to analyse, plan, prepare and present L2 speaking and listening activities.

Psychology of Language

C4N 70U R34D 7H15?

With some difficulty, you may be able to read the above question (which says Can you read this?). How do you do this? What explains our impressive capacity to speak, listen, read and write in a first language, as well as potentially in a second, third or fourth?

In this module we consider and try out language experiments that tell us how we produce, understand, and learn language.

You will explore:

  • how we learn, produce and understand speech, words, sentences and discourse
  • how is this the same and different in a first, second or third language
  • how we understand non-literal language like how 'spill the beans' means ‘reveal a secret’
  • what is the relationship between language and emotion and how emoticons may convey emotion

This module is worth 20 credits

Group Dynamics and Motivation in the Language Classroom

Discover the main psychological factors and processes that determine how students learn foreign languages within a classroom context.

We will focus on two key issues that have a considerable practical significance. They are language learning motivation, and the internal dynamics of the learner group (which can either enhance or hinder the individual members' achievement).

Key topics to be discussed include:

  • the components of L2 motivation
  • strategies to increase student motivation
  • structural and developmental characteristics of the 'good' learner group
  • group building techniques
  • effective leadership roles

This module is worth 20 credits.

English Vocabulary: Teaching and Learning

This module covers the various aspects of knowledge that are required to fluently use a word: meaning, written form, spoken form, grammatical properties, frequency, register, collocation, and association. Practical aspects of teaching vocabulary will also be covered, including vocabulary teaching activities, vocabulary learning strategies, vocabulary testing and the use of corpora.

Intercultural Communication

With ever increasing interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to consider how language use may lead to misunderstandings and communicative difficulties.

In this module, we explore language use in different cultural environments and in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

We look at what language barriers might be present, and how these might be overcome. We examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, including:

  • business and other professional encounters
  • the media
  • education

This module is worth 20 credits.

If you only chose three modules, you can then choose an additional module from the list below:

Business and Organisational Communication

The module investigates the multidisciplinary subject of business and organisational communication. It covers a wide range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, examining how individuals and groups use spoken, written and digital forms of communication to get work achieved successfully. The range of methodologies and analytical frameworks for interrogating business and organisational communication include: conversation analysis, corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, pragmatics and speech act theory and ethnography. The module also highlights contemporary issues emerging from the field, exploring, for instance, the influence of context, new multi-media technologies and globalisation on communication in commercial domains and organisational environments. The module emphasises how the findings of communicative research can be practically applied in teaching and training materials and in consultancy work.

Cognition and Literature

This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics and critical theory.

Consciousness in Fiction

The module will explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. Students will learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters’ thoughts and perceptions. Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, students will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.

Dramatic Discourse

Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, this module explores the relationship between the ‘dramatic text’ of the written script and the ‘theatrical text’ of the script in performance through the lens of linguistic analysis. Drawing on facets of stylistics and discourse analysis, the module considers the role of language in moving dramatic scripts from page to stage, exploring aspects of characterisation (such as identity, power and provocation), the role of language in story-telling on stage, and the 'management' of performance through stage directions.

Language, Gender and Sexuality

Explore the relationship between language and gender.

We consider both spoken interaction and written texts, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis and interactional sociolinguistics.

We will focus on:

  • how gender and sexuality affect the language we produce when interacting with one another in a variety of contexts
  • the critical analysis of how individuals and groups of people are represented in the media, in ways related to their gender and/or sexual identities
  • issues of sexist and discriminatory language towards LGBT people

You will explore current theories which explain the relationships between language, gender and sexuality. These include how ideologies of gender and sexuality are reproduced both in cultural discourse and everyday interaction.

You will also engage in hands-on analysis of data from spoken interaction, as well as from print, broadcast and social media.

The practical consequences of the discipline, in terms of how findings can have a political impact on wider society, will also be discussed.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Research Methods: Corpus Linguistics

Corpus linguistics provides methods for studying collections of electronic texts. These could be written texts (including literary texts), material from the internet, or transcripts of spoken language.

We introduce fundamental corpus methods, that include:

  • retrieving and interpreting word frequency information
  • studying patterns of words in the form of concordances
  • analysing key words and key semantic domains

The module will explain these concepts and illustrate methods through case studies, with an emphasis on the use of corpus methods for the purposes of discourse analysis.

Through hands-on sessions, you will practise using corpus analysis software and several online interfaces. Throughout the module, you are encouraged to reflect on the applicability of a range of methods to your own areas of interest (for example, literary linguistics, critical discourse analysis, ELT).

For the assessment, you will complete a small-scale corpus project on a topic of your choice (in consultation with the module convenor). This project can test ideas that might be further developed during the dissertation.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Sociolinguistics of Work

Communication is an essential aspect of any workplace. From the language used in the cockpit of aeroplanes, to the language used in advertising and call centres, spoken, written and visual discourse is at the very centre of, and often defines, contemporary work practices.

Discover the theories and insights of sociolinguistic-related research, as applied to a vast array of work-related and institutional settings. We cover a range of communicative topics that reveal how language is used and abused in the workplace and institutional setting, including:

  • linguistic coercion in courtrooms, classrooms, prisons
  • electronic communication
  • miscommunication
  • advertising communication
  • critical discourse analysis and multimodal critical discourse analysis
  • political talk and the use of persuasive discourse
  • jargon, double speak, and fake news

Often taking a critical perspective on language in the workplace (exposing inequities in institutional discourse), the module will emphasise the vital relationship between power and communication in the workplace. It shows how looking closely at and through language can illuminate and enhance communication in a range of workplaces and institutional settings.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 30 April 2021.

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation:


During the summer, you will complete a 60-credit dissertation (14,000 words). You will be supervised by a member of staff with expertise in your chosen field.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 30 April 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We are preparing your tutorials, laboratory classes, workshops and seminars so that you can study and discuss your subjects with your tutors and fellow students in stimulating and enjoyable ways. While we will keep some elements of online course delivery, particularly while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place or where this enhances course delivery, teaching is being planned to take place in-person wherever possible. This will be subject to government guidance remaining unchanged.

We will use the best of digital technologies to support both your in-person and online teaching. We will provide live, interactive online sessions, alongside pre-recorded teaching materials so that you can work through them at your own pace. While the mix of in-person and digital teaching will vary by course, we aim to increase the proportion of in-person teaching in the spring term.

  • Seminars
  • Group study

Students are taught in small seminar groups, so there is plenty of opportunity for discussion of ideas and development of our students as researchers.

MA Dissertation Preparation Day

This is an opportunity for students to learn more about the challenges of a larger-scale research project, about supervision and support, and about the resources available to Masters researchers. It is also a social occasion, bringing together our postgraduate students as an academic community. Find out more about the Dissertation Preparation Day.

Peer mentoring

All new postgraduate taught students can opt into our peer mentoring scheme. Your peer mentor will help you settle into life at Nottingham and access support if needed. 

More about peer mentoring.

How you will be assessed

All assessments in the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online unless there is a professional accreditation requirement or a specific need for on-campus delivery and in-person invigilation.

  • Exams
  • Dissertation

Most modules are assessed by written work of varying lengths, corresponding with the content and weighting of the module.

Your course tutors provide detailed comments on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 14,000 word dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research.

Contact time and study hours

You will typically have six hours of face-to-face timetabled contact a week. Your tutors will also be available during office hours to discuss your work, address any issues, and help you develop your understanding.

Study hours

One credit is approximately 10 hours of student work, so a 20-credit module will be around 200 hours of work. On average, you will spend around 13 hours per module per week on structured independent study.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in English language/literature or a related arts or humanities subject


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MA
Home / UK £8,500
International £20,000

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs


You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

This course will develop a range of transferable skills, including:

  • written and oral communication skills
  • presentation skills
  • data collection and analysis
  • research design skills
  • organisation and time management

Our graduates enter a varied range of careers, including:

  • English language teaching
  • working in Higher Education
  • marketing/PR/journalism
  • business and finance
  • the charity sector
  • local and national government
  • going on to do PhD study

Career progression

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" I am interested in understanding how we can take theoretical ideas and principles and apply this knowledge to support teaching and learning in specific contexts. I find this area fascinating because it brings together several very different fields of research (including linguistics, education and psychology), and it requires us to engage critically with each of them. "
Christine Muir, Assistant Professor in Second Language Acquisition

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Friday 30 April 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.