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MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Start date
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Taught

Annual tuition fees for 2024 entry:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £25,290 full-time
More detail.

Are you interested in a career in English language teaching? Are you already an early-career teacher of English and want to advance your professional standing? 

Our distinctive, well-established and popular MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programme is designed for those with less than one year’s language teaching experience. Taking this programme, you will explore different approaches to the teaching and learning of English and study the close relationship between language teaching theories and practices.

The programme encourages you to consider how the concepts, theories and methodologies that you encounter during your course of study will be of practical use in your own teaching career. We aim to equip students with the linguistic, applied linguistic and pedagogic knowledge, the research and analytic skills, and the confidence necessary to begin or enhance a career in English language teaching.

We also offer a distance learning programme over 2.5 years – for more information see Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages MA (Distance Learning).

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships


At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

I really appreciated that teaching took place in very small groups which meant that I felt relaxed to take part in discussions, while my supervisor was very patient and provided very useful advice on my writing. My course combined theory and practice together, while giving me lots of opportunities to present my ideas to my classmates.


Why study this course?

  • Tailored to your level of experience – this programme is specifically designed for inexperienced language teachers, so it will help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to advance your career.
  • Excellent reputation – the Department of English Language and Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study English Language and Literature in the 2023 QS World University Rankings.
  • Access to fantastic resources – English Language and Linguistics students at Birmingham have free access to the hardware, software and data resources held at the Centre for Corpus Research. You will also have access to the resources such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work to help with transitioning to postgraduate studies or if you are returning to the world of academia.
  • Outstanding teaching – learn from experts in the use of corpora in various fields, such as English language teaching, historical linguistics, language and literature, grammar, language processing and discourse analysis.
  • A vibrant and active postgraduate community – join a range of exciting conferences, seminars and social events. There is always something happening in the Department.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.


You will study four core modules and one optional module before completing your 15,000 word dissertation.

Core modules

You will study four core modules:

Syllabus Design & Language Teaching

This module critically evaluates a number of different syllabus designs and shows how different types of syllabus can be matched with particular teaching situations. We will be examining the relationship between teaching material and the syllabus and students will have the opportunity to design a syllabus for a specific teaching situation based on data obtained from a needs analysis. The module will also focus on developing specific teaching skills, in particular:

  • Planning and evaluating a language lesson;
  • Presenting and practising vocabulary and grammatical structures;
  • Using educational technology and other teaching equipment;
  • Asking questions, eliciting responses, and correcting errors;
  • Teaching through task based learning;
  • Teaching reading and writing;
  • Teaching listening and speaking (including pronunciation);
  • Managing classroom interaction and dealing with problem behaviour

Assessment: 4,000 word written assignment

Second Language Learning and Teaching

In this module, the process of language acquisition is examined from a range of perspectives: [a] the linguistic knowledge that learners bring to the task; [b] how learners process input; [c] the kinds of input that help to maximise acquisition. A range of approaches to and methods of language teaching are introduced and critically evaluated in terms of their underlying principles and their efficacy, with some emphasis on the ‘Communicative Approach’. Specific techniques which illustrate the practical application of current theories and research findings in L2 acquisition and pedagogy are examined.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Teaching and Learning Grammar and Vocabulary

This module introduces you to the analysis of English lexico-grammar, with some emphasis on the relevance of linguistic description to language teachers – that is, on applying methods of analysis to the teaching of grammar and vocabulary. You will be encouraged to apply knowledge gained to aspects of your own professional practice.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Classroom Research Methods

This module introduces the main concepts and techniques used in research in and into second language classrooms. In essence, this involves looking at two kinds of research traditions:

  • experimental research, which is often quantitative, and involves looking at linguistic or other outcomes, often independently of classroom interaction, with the purpose of making general statements about, say, how language is (best) learnt and/or acquired
  • ‘action’ research, which is usually qualitative, and involves examining specific classroom interactions in a single period of time, generally with the intent of modifying or improving teacher behaviour

The module examines the kinds of instruments used to examine and measure factors which influence or are part of classroom events, such as the investigation of attitudes and beliefs and the observation of interactions in the classroom. These research instruments will include questionnaires, interviews, classroom observation and transcription, learning diaries, journals etc.

Finally, students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge of research design and research instruments by designing a piece of research which could form the basis of their dissertation or teaching project.

Assessment: 2 x 2,000-word assignments

Optional modules

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which may include the following:

  • Bilingualism and Multilingualism in the TESOL classroom
  • Corpus Assisted Language Learning
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Globalisation and Language Education
  • Issues in Intercultural Communication
  • Language and New Media
  • Language, Power and Identity
  • Using Literature to Teach English Language

For more information, see our English Language and Linguistics module descriptions.

Final Project

In addition to your taught modules, you will either take:


Conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


The Teaching Project

The Teaching Project is a very practical classroom based project that will give you the opportunity of developing essential classroom skills such as designing and delivering a lesson, creating a lesson plan and developing new classroom material and/or exploiting existing material.

For this project, you will be asked to prepare two different lessons. These lessons must be significantly different in either type and/or level. In most cases the lesson should be 50 minutes in length however a task-based lesson may need to be longer. You will show how you are able to adapt published materials, or develop your own materials, to meet the needs of a particular group of learners.

Assessment: Teaching project proposal, lesson plan, teaching material, video component and 2 X 3,000 word written assignments

Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.


We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024 entry:

  • UK: £10,530 full-time; £ 5,265 part-time
  • International: £25,290 full-time

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

How To Apply

How to Apply for a Postgraduate Degree - Taught programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 1 June 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

We usually require an upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in TEFL/TESL or TESOL, English Language or another relevant subject (e.g. Linguistics, Translation Studies). Appropriate work experience will also be taken into consideration.

This programme is designed for those with less than one year’s language teaching experience. More experienced language teachers will benefit from our MA Applied Linguistics with TESOL programme.


International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.5 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.5 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 22 in any band
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 67 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 176 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements

Modules are typically delivered via weekly two-hour seminars, with the exception of Language Teaching Observation and Practice which also involves mini-group teaching/presentations. You will also receive one-to-one support you in the development of your dissertation.

Teaching year

We have three teaching terms per year, the autumn, spring and summer terms. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each of the first two terms, followed by your dissertation. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation.

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: English Language and Linguistics

Birmingham's English Language and Linguistics postgraduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers, particularly in relation to verbal and written communication. They also develop crucial skills in organisation, time management, analysis and interpretation of information.

Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has prepared them, such as becoming a language analyst or data scientist. Others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including teaching, research administration and events.