Applied Linguistics and TESOL MA

Postgraduate (13 months, 16 months full-time, part-time)

Distance learning, Cambridge

January, September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 13 months full-time, 2 years part-time (September starts); 16 months full-time, 28 months part-time (January starts)

Please note the Distance Learning version of this course can only be taken part-time and does not include optional modules.

If you hold a level 7 teaching qualification, such as a PGCE or a Cambridge Delta or Trinity Diploma, which is not older than 5 years, we may be able to accredit your prior learning with up to 60 credits. If you would like this to be considered, please indicate this on the application form or contact us for a discussion.

Apply online

Apply directly to ARU


Learn the latest linguistics theories and apply them to your classroom practice. Advance your career in language teaching, or even take it international.

Find out more about teaching options and studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.

Full description


Our MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL will help you prepare for many language-learning and teaching-related professions, such as teaching English and other languages (in the UK and abroad), and developing courses, tests, materials or language policy.

You might also decide to continue on to a research degree, such as our PhD English Language and Linguistics or PhD English Language and Intercultural Communication.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Second Language Acquisition
    You’ll focus on the major themes that have emerged from literature on second language learning over the last three decades. You’ll examine some of the research on the second-language acquisition process, look critically at reports of second-language research, and examine some of the theories which endeavour to interpret research evidence. You will be encouraged to use your own language learning and teaching experience to assess the relative merits of such materials. The module is taught through weekly seminars, offered in the early evening to accommodate those who are in part- or full-time employment. You may be asked to prepare or analyse material for presentation and discussion in class. Students taking part in distance delivery will work in small groups with support from the tutor by means of the Virtual Learning Environment, with progress monitored through formative tasks. Your assessment will be in the form of an extended written assignment to be submitted at the end of the module.
  • Discourse in Society
    You’ll examine the relationship between language and society, and the construction of discourse in various domains. In the first part of the module you’ll explore sociological and sociolinguistic models and theories, such as speech communities, communities of practice and ethnolinguistic vitality, with a particular focus on social variation and stratification across various linguistic levels (phonology, lexicon, syntax). The second part of the module expands the discussion, and you’ll explore the notion (or notions) of discourse in both its linguistic and wider meaning, and its construction in and through society and language use. Throughout the module, you'll study methods for the collection and transcription of data, and discover various approaches to linguistic and discourse analysis. These methods and approaches will then be put into context and used in the analysis of the relevant social spheres and domains, such as educational or institutional discourse. By the end of the course, you’ll become more familiar with some of the theoretical foundations on which the study of language use is built, and you’ll be able to apply the practical techniques of sociolinguistic and discourse analysis. You'll be assessed through coursework consisting of a portfolio of tasks (3,500 words).
  • Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
    This module will provide you with an introduction to research methods in preparation for the MA dissertation. Fortnightly sessions will familiarise you with the basic processes of conducting research, including general methodological approaches as well as research ethics. You’ll analyse and discuss both qualitative and quantitative data, in order to develop your critical-evaluative skills. Two sessions will be used to introduce you to the main software packages for both qualitative and quantitative research. If you're taking the distance learning option, you'll work on the Virtual Learning Environment in small groups with support from the tutor, with your progress monitored through formative tasks. Your assessment will consist of a portfolio, including an outline plan for a research project, which may become the basis for the dissertation.
  • Major Project
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Masters dissertation, allowing you to explore in-depth a particular topic that reflects your academic interest.

Optional modules (campus-based course only)

  • Materials and Course Design
    You will explore the factors involved in the design of language courses and teaching materials, reflecting on one possible process of course design. You will start with an analysis of the context in which the course will take place, the needs of the learners, and current theories of language and language learning. You will move on to consider how course content can be selected and ordered in a principled way, how assessment relates to course design, and how and when courses should be evaluated. Finally, you will consider the evaluation, adaptation and creation of course materials. The face-to-face seminars will be a combination of teacher input, student input and discussion, both in groups and whole class. Students taking part in distance delivery will work in a small group with support from the tutor by means of the Virtual Learning Environment, with progress monitored through formative tasks. The assessment will be in the form of a portfolio and will give you the opportunity to consider what particular syllabus might be relevant to your own current or future teaching context. The elements of the portfolio will relate to particular units of the module, and the portfolio can therefore be progressively built up as the course proceeds.
  • Classroom Theory and Practice
    You will examine current research on modern classroom operations, exploring key concepts and issues through relevant professional and academic literature. A more practical element will be realised through live and filmed observation of teachers in practice. You will also be encouraged to reflect on your teaching and learning experience, and analyse and discuss your beliefs and attitudes towards learning and teaching. You will be taught through weekly seminars, offered in the early evenings to accommodate those who are in part- or full-time employment. The seminars will be staff-led, but you will be expected to participate by preparing material for presentation and discussion in class. Outside of the seminar, you will also observe teachers in practice. If you are a taking the distant learning delivery, you will work in a small group via the Virtual Learning Environment with support from the tutor and your progress will be monitored through formative tasks. Your assessment will take the form of an extended written assignment and a report to be submitted at the end of the module.
  • Impacts of Migration
    You will explore the push and pull factors which stimulate migration to Europe, and investigate the impact of cultural difference and interconnectedness at national, regional and local level, including the workplace. While taking account of global trends in migration and diaspora, you will focus on the situation in key European countries, in particular Britain, France, Germany and Spain. Local case studies from various organisations will allow you to conduct an in-depth analysis of the processes of integration and alienation, including patterns of mutual – cultural, racial and/or gender – discrimination, as well as linguistic adaptation. You will give special attention to the dynamics of cultural interaction, which consider the role of religion, male and female codes of honour, patriarchal mentality and potential clashes in expectations from and by contemporary leadership. You will further consider the subjectivity of this experience by exploring selected stories of migration as reflected in migrant film and literature. Your assessment will take the form of a presentation and an extended written assignment to be submitted at the end of the module.
  • Language, Identity and Policy
    You will explore the psychological and social intricacies of language and interaction both in general and within the EU. You will examine the question of language within the EU, identifying the points of tension for a community of nations who seek to work together increasingly closely and to achieve intercultural understanding while at the same time making a strong commitment to cultural and linguistic diversity. You will assess how far EU policy confronts the language issues identifiable within its current frontiers and the likely way forward as more countries and more languages join, comparing the situation in Europe with those experienced in other countries. Finally, you will explore how developing language technologies might facilitate future intercultural communication and help to resolve some of the current difficulties.
  • Selection and Evaluation of Instructional Materials
    This module will provide you with a systematic approach to the selection and evaluation processes of instructional materials. You will analyse and discuss various criteria in materials selection and principles in materials evaluation. All these theoretical aspects will be supported with a generous collection of tasks, worksheets and checklists from different teaching contexts. The practical component of this module seeks to first combine theory, research and classroom practice, and second to encourage you as a future teacher and materials developer to actively and critically promote materials selection and evaluation. You will also learn how the successful implementation of the two processes greatly contributes to effective teaching and learning in the classroom. You will be assessed through an oral presentation and a 4,000 word report.
  • The Process of Materials Writing
    You will familiarise yourself with the theoretical and practical aspects of the process of materials writing. This will enable you to make principled and creative decisions, and ensure that the instructional materials you develop reflect upon what research reveals about the development of communicative competence. You will engage in the creative process of designing original instructional materials for different teaching contexts, applying various principled approaches to materials writing for ESP, EAP, EYL and the like. To complete this module, you will submit a portfolio of 6,000 words, in which you will include original material designed for a specific course and teaching context. Creativity will be expected and highly valued in your materials.


Modules are subject to change and availability.

You will show your understanding of the theoretical issues explored on the course and their practical application through various methods, including portfolios, classroom observation tasks and critical essays. At the end of the course, you will also research and complete a 15,000-word major project.

Distance learning students
Due to the structure of this course, there will be times when you'll study two modules simultaneously during a trimester. Our tutors will help you to manage your workload and assessment deadlines. Please contact us to discuss the pacing of this course and the options available to you. Email or call 01245 686707.

Distance Learning students take the following modules: Major Project, Second Language Acquisition, Classroom Theory and Practice, Materials and Course Design, Research Methods in Applied Linguistics, Discourse in Society.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, we believe in thinking critically about the past, present and future to challenge perceptions and better understand communities and people.

With expertise from gender issues to literary analysis to exploring how the past has shaped our modern world, all our staff members are active researchers. This is reflected in our teaching, allowing us to support our students with the latest theories and practices, as well as essential employability advice.

Where can I study?

Distance learning
Person using laptop

Study at a time that suits you, using our online learning management system.

More about distance learning

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Study options

You can take this course on our Cambridge campus or by distance learning. On campus, all your teaching will take place in the evening, making it easier to take paid work during the day. With its many language schools, Cambridge is the perfect place to gain experience in language teaching.

Our distance learning course is provided entirely online, so you can choose when and where to study: ideal if you are juggling work, family and childcare commitments.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


UK students starting 2021/22 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (part-time, per year)


Distance learning students starting 2021/22 (total cost)


Additional costs

Various optional trips

Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university.

International students

As well as a number of scholarships, we offer an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2021, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2021-22.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

Teaching options

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our students can choose to study face to face on campus or online only. They're also able to change their mode of delivery on given dates in each trimester.

For on-campus teaching, we offer at least four hours face-to-face teaching related contact time per week for our undergraduate full-time courses, supported by online learning using our established online learning systems. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information. The provision offered is subject to change due to the possibility of further Government restrictions, however we remain committed to delivering face-to-face teaching and ensuring a COVID-19 secure environment.

In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place due to the pandemic, we may need to move some courses online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.

View the impact of the current restrictions.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the standard entry requirements for IELTS requirements for this course.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online