Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) MA/ Postgraduate Diploma/ Postgraduate Certificate (School of Education)

Quick links: Modules | Fees and Funding | Entry Requirements | How to apply

Want to advance your career prospects Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) programme locally and internationally? 

Want to develop excellent grounding in the latest cutting edge developments in the field of English Language Teaching and second language teaching research? Based in the School of Education, TEFL, also known as TESOL in some countries, offers you the opportunity to study for a qualification which links teaching English to wider issues of school-based education. 

Our MA Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) programme is an internationally recognised qualification in English Language Teaching.  The programme has been designed to be practical and you will have opportunities to create bespoke teaching and learning materials as well as visit British schools to observe classroom teaching. Some teaching experience is an advantage but not essential. 

In the 2015 EL gazette awards, based on the THE Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, the programme was ranked 4th in the country in the Education Linguistics/English Language category.

The School of Education at a glance

Download information on all the postgraduate study programmes in the School of Education (PDF)

This programme is aimed at individuals with knowledge and understanding of current debates relevant to the teaching and learning of English as a Foreign Language. You will be supported in becoming a reflective TEFL practitioner, a competent educational researcher and an active member of the international academic and professional TEFL community. 

Programme content

There are three core modules for the Teaching English as a Foreign Language programme:

  • Communicative Language Teaching, Syllabus Design and Assessment
  • Language, Discourse and Society
  • Second Language Learning

These modules give you a strong grounding in appropriate classroom methodology, and course design with the opportunity to create your own teaching and learning materials. Other modules provide opportunities to visit British primary, secondary and language schools, and prepare you for your dissertation. The MA Education TEFL Dissertation Prize is awarded annually to the best TEFL dissertations in the School of Education whose work demonstrates significance, originality and methodological rigour.

We offer a wide range of options to choose from, including Curriculum Design in Global Contexts, Leadership for School Improvement, Personal and Professional Skills for Education Management, Education as an International Issue, and Special Educational Needs of Children with Autism. You will have the chance to participate in events organised by our MOSAIC group for research on multilingualism, such as conferences and popular seminar series with renowned international TEFL researchers.

Please note that the acronym TEFL is mainly used in the UK, whilst TESOL is often used as an acronym in Australia or the USA. 

Julia who is a TEFL graduate, talks about her experience on the programme.

Ask our students a question

Ratna and Winda who are both from Indonesia and Fatima who is from Italy, are experienced postgraduates who have previously studied, or are currently studying, at the University of Birmingham and they will offer help and advice from a student perspective.

Why study this course

Many of the tutors teaching on the core modules of the programme have won awards for their work. All of the tutors on the programme are involved in research projects concerning classroom interaction, second language learning and teaching, teacher collaboration, teacher development, bilingualism and multilingualism, literacy, academic discourse, gender and identity, digital literacies and learning through IT amongst many others and this research is fed back into the TEFL programme.

The School of Education also has a vibrant community of research students (EdD and PhD), who are researching a range of topics, including bilingual education, second language motivation, second language learning in virtual environments, intercultural communication, complementary schools, and many others.
All of this will make studying TEFL at the School of Education at the University of Birmingham, England, UK an exciting and rewarding experience.


All students take the following three modules

Foreign Languages in Education: Communicative Language Teaching, Syllabus Design and Assessment

Language Discourse and Society

Second Language Learning

There are also several optional modules.

Optional Modules

It is strongly recommended that you take the Education Observation, Evaluation and Supervision module

Examples of other modules on offer across the school include:

The modules listed on our website may occasionally be subject to change. For example, as you will appreciate, key members of staff may leave the University and this might necessitate a review of the modules that are offered. Where a module is no longer available, we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Dissertation (MA level)

In the School of Education, the Researching Education module prepares the ground for your dissertation. This module is completed in the first semester and the MA programme is designed to enable you to make an early choice and get help with the planning. This means you have more time to read around topic and organise data collection. Many overseas students return to their home country to collect data. Others stay in UK and find an suitable research focus here. The TEFL team will help you make this choice. Each student has an individual supervisor who is there to offer advice and support along the way.

The actual dissertation is 15,000 words long. It usually contains a description of the research or teaching context, a section on research methodology, a literature review, analysis and discussion, as well as evaluation. Although it sounds like a large number of words, the main problem students usually have is cutting their work down to the word limit! Students have nearly six months (between April and September) to complete the research and writing.

To see examples of TEFL dissertation projects, view the Learning and Teaching Tab. 

Related staff

Fees and funding

Fees 2019 - 2020


  • Code 6146 PGCert full-time £3,083
  • Code 6150 PGDip full-time £6,167
  • Code 4399 MA full-time £9,250
  • Code 6374 MA part-time £3,083


  • Code 6146 PGCert full-time £5,970
  • Code 6150 PGDip full-time £11,940
  • Code 4399 MA full-time £17,910
  • Code 6374 MA part-time £5,970

Fees are based on students studying 60 credits per year on part-time programmes. 

The fees shown above are for the first year for students starting their course in September in 2019. Please note that fees may change in subsequent years due to inflation.

Please view our Fees for International Students  page for further details 

Learn more about fees and funding  

For further information contact the School directly or visit the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via online enquiries. 

Scholarships, Studentships and Loans

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships may be available, please view the Scholarships webpage in the School of Education. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the international scholarships page.

For further information contact the School directly or Fees and Financial Support university webpages. 

Entry requirements

A 2:1 or equivalent undergraduate degree in a related discipline (English language, linguistics, language teaching, education, TESOL/TEFL, Translation) is normally required. However, applications from candidates with a 2:2 will also be considered on an individual basis. Prior teaching-related work experience will also be taken into account for applicants with a 2:2.   A clearly demonstrated interest in TEFL is important and whilst some teaching experience is an advantage, it is not an essential requirement.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

VISA Requirements

Obtaining a visa can be a lengthly process. Please allow sufficient time to obtain your visa. Find out more about the visa requirements and process

English Language requirements

International applicants will need to provide evidence of English proficiency. An IELTS 6.5 or other equivalent English language qualification is required for entry to this programme

English language support - before your course starts

The University offers Presessional English courses for students who wish to improve their knowledge of spoken and written English in preparation for academic study at the University of Birmingham. Students with conditional offers have the option of attending one of these courses instead of retaking IELTS .  

English language support - during your studies

BIA provides free English language services to international students who are currently studying on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at the University of Birmingham.  Services include Open-access English classes, online self-assessment, online materials through CANVAS, email answers to quick questions and individual one to one tutorials.  For a small fee, BIA also offers classes for partners of international postgraduate students and staff, social events including day trips and HOST visits.   

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Ai from Japan (speaking in Japanese)

The course participants will experience a range of teaching and learning styles, including lectures and group discussions, practical demonstrations and microteaching, group presentations, school observations, journals and group projects.

The MA Education TEFL Dissertation Prize

The MA Education TEFL Dissertation Prize is annually awarded to best TEFL dissertations in the School of Education whose work demonstrates significance, originality and methodological rigour.

Prize winners 2015-2016

Prize winners 2014-2015

Prize winners 2013-2014

Prize winners 2012-2013

Prize winners 2011-2012

Prize winners 2010-2011

Assessment methods

Modules are typically assessed with a 4,000 word written assignments in which students are asked to explore a topic of their choice, review relevant literature and collect and analyse some data in a small-scale research project. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of an aspect of the teaching and learning process and suggest practical implications. For some modules, assessment will take the form of a design and evaluation of curriculum or teaching materials. There will be an early opportunity to submit a short piece of written work and receive constructive feedback from the tutor.

The dissertation is 15,000 words in length, and encourages students to explore an aspect of TEFL which is personally relevant to them and their teaching contexts. It usually includes a description of the context, a literature review, a methodology chapter and the discussion of findings. Students will have an individual supervisor to offer advice and support. The MA Education TEFL Dissertation prize is annually awarded to the best TEFL dissertations in the School of Education whose work demonstrates significance, originality and methodological rigour

Related research

Our graduates typically find work as EFL teachers in schools and universities in countries around the world, return to their English teaching jobs in their home countries, are promoted to more senior roles within their teaching contexts, or pursue a research qualification (usually a PhD degree). Graduates from the MA Education TEFL are consistently successful in winning prestigious PhD scholarships and awards and present their MA TEFL work at international conferences and in publications.