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MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Course Description

The MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programme is for people who wish to teach English as a second or foreign language, or further develop their TESOL career prospects. The MA TESOL at Bath Spa University is one of the few TESOL programmes in the UK which incorporates a teaching practice component and is designed for both experienced teachers and those with little or no previous teaching experience.

The programme aims to develop confident, well informed, resourceful language teaching practitioners who are capable of designing and teaching comprehensive language programmes. At the same time you will extend your own knowledge base by engaging in independent research into your own practice and setting.

The programme recognises and values your professional, cultural and life experiences and you will develop and explore these experiences during the programme. This will enhance your professional knowledge and understanding through reflection, aided by theoretical input and practical application.

Context specific professional development is an important element in the programme as we prepare you to return to your home country with an adaptable knowledge base for your particular setting.


The MA TESOL is available both full and part-time, and for international students there is a low residency option.

The one year full-time route has taught modules (totalling 120 credits) being taken for the first two trimesters with the dissertation (60 credits) being completed in the third trimester. The part-time route is taken over two years, completing one module per trimester.

There are two modules in the first trimester, one covers the practical skills of language teaching and includes teaching practice in an appropriate school setting, the other analyses language from a discourse perspective and incorporates practical analysis tasks.

Suitably experienced teachers may choose an Independent Study module over the practical Theory and Practice of TESOL module in this trimester. The Independent Study module is negotiated with the award leader and allows for a more personalised learning experience.

The programme continues the practical and theoretical mix in trimester two while fostering independent study skills and culminates with the dissertation in the third trimester.

Throughout the programme the amount of independent study gradually increases, both within and across modules, in order to build your confidence and self-reliance. As your future continuing professional development is also important to us, reflection, as a key skill, is interwoven into all modules to nurture your ability to continue learning beyond the MA TESOL.

We offer a low-residency option for international students. You will attend Bath Spa University twice a year for one or two intensive weeks of teaching input (usually September and February). This is followed by a period of study in which assignments are completed and submitted before the next face-to-face teaching block. This route for the MA TESOL will take one or two years depending on the number of modules taken during the face-to-face blocks.


Trimester 1
The first trimester begins with Theory and Practice of TESOL and Language Analysis for TESOL. These modules include theoretical knowledge and practical skills both for classroom practice and language analysis. Observed teaching placement runs throughout the trimester for module one, with the latter module focusing on practical language analysis tasks and reflection on language analysis approaches. Reflection, as a core knowledge area for the degree, is firmly set into the learning and assessment for both modules. For suitably experienced teachers the Independent Study module is an option to be discussed with the Award Leader.

Trimester 2
The second trimester builds on the first with a more critical and in-depth focus on TESOL theories of learning and teaching in Second Language Learning and Teaching. This module incorporates further observed teaching practice and reflection on theory and practice. The research module, Research Methods in Social Science, allows for an individual focus on research methods and begins the thinking for the dissertation. This is a key trimester for the dissertation where reflection and discussion on research ideas and core TESOL areas is encouraged.

Trimester 3
In your third trimester you will continue your studies through researching and writing your Dissertation (60 credits). Your dissertation topic is chosen in consultation with a nominated supervisor. This process begins in trimester two allowing for ideas to develop and time to explore alternative concepts and methodologies before fully embarking on your research. Trimester three is primarily independent study with support from your supervisor through various channels such as face-to-face and skype discussions, with online and/or email feedback.


Teaching and learning methods utilised include lectures, seminars, workshops, directed classroom-based activities and discussion to promote and enhance reflection. Peer-teaching opportunities, presentations and student led workshops are also employed throughout the programme. You are encouraged to keep a journal for teaching practice which enhances and supports reflection on your experience. This aids continuation of discussions linking theory to practice which begin in class and continue throughout the programme on an individual self-reflection and peer reflection basis.

Your fellow course participants are an important resource to draw on through shared experience and stories as you build a community of practice. The university offers many supportive resources including a virtual learning environment, which will support your online discussions and knowledge enhancement, and various library resources. There is also a Writing and Learning Centre offering academic support for writing and independent study skills.


Students who complete the MA TESOL will have many career opportunities including: English language teaching (general or specialised), language teacher trainer, materials writing, curriculum development, language textbook editor, Director of Studies/Assistant Director of Studies, PhD studies.


Both formative and summative assessment is built into each core module with no written exams utilised in any module. Summative assessment takes the form of a portfolio of tasks which may include oral presentations, reflection on module learning and teaching practice, essays and analysis tasks. All summative assessment is supported by formative work during the module which includes discussions with tutors and colleagues, feedback on presentations and assignment drafts, journal reflections and class activities.

Visit the MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) page on the Bath Spa University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Rachel Grove

Since completing the course in 2011 I have taught EFL with Young Learners and adults on short courses in the UK, Austria, Italy, Poland, Switzerland as well as a year abroad in China. I am now teaching EAL in Birmingham. The MA TESOL qualification has helped me tremendously and gives me credibility when talking about linguistics with my colleagues. I also have a strong work ethic which I developed whilst completing the Master’s course.


Entry Requirements

Students will typically have a good undergraduate degree (at least a 2:1) in an appropriate specialism from a recognised higher education institution. Teaching experience is welcome but not essential. Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) can be offered if you have successfully completed previous Level 6 or 7 modules at another university. We will require a full transcript from the awarding university. It is also possible to gain accreditation for other kinds of professional development by compiling an independent study portfolio of professional development (APEL - Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning).

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