Applied Linguistics and TESOL MA

Postgraduate Degree (1 -2 years)

Cambridge, Online

January & September

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Want to further your career in language teaching? Learn the latest linguistics theories and apply them to your classroom practice. Gain critical and analytical skills that will boost your career prospects. Choose to study by distance learning or in Cambridge, a city famous for language teaching.

Application Deadline:
Wed, Aug 1st, 2018


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If you’re involved with any aspect of foreign language teaching, this course will further your theoretical understanding of language learning and give you a chance to develop your teaching skills.

Full Description

You’ll gain a firm grounding in the current theories and methodologies of foreign language teaching and learning, and second language acquisition, and have the chance to apply these to your own classroom practice and curriculum development.

You’ll learn the basics of conducting research, and improve the critical and analytical skills in demand from employers. Our modules will also allow you to investigate other issues of language, like migration or identity.

Outside of the course, you’ll have the chance to attend, and take part in, our research seminars and conferences, like the Identities in Language conference, or the British Association for Applied Linguistics conference.

Course Details

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

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. Your assessment will take the form of an extended written assignment to be submitted at the end of the module.


You’ll show your understanding of theoretical issues and their practical application through a combination of portfolios, classroom observation tasks and critical essays. After completing your final module, you’ll also research and prepare a 15,000-word dissertation.


Cambridge is a beautiful and historic university city. With a student population of some 25,000, it also offers a young, vibrant and creative environment. The city is full of student bookshops, cafes, cinemas, art galleries, museums and an exceptional number of theatre and concert venues, both mainstream and experimental. London is within easy reach of Cambridge by train or coach.

Special features
This course is offered also via distance learning. On campus, all teaching takes place in the evening, enabling you to pursue paid employment during the day. Cambridge has an abundance of language schools, making it comparatively easy for those wishing to gain practical experience in language teaching to find part-time employment in this sector.

Course convenor
Dr Sebastian Rasinger

Related links
Research Unit for Intercultural and Transcultural Studies
Applied Linguistics lecturer elected onto BAAL Executive Committee
Research on vocabulary: what does it tell us about teaching?

Meet your Tutors

Dr Sebastian Rasinger

Dr Sebastian RasingerSebastian is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and the Course Leader for the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL. His primary research interests fall into two main areas: second language acquisition and urban multilingualism, with a particular focus on language use and its impact on linguistic development and the emergence of ethnic and cultural identity; and the representation of minority groups in public discourse, using both corpus analysis and methods derived from Critical Discourse Analysis. A chapter on this topic has also been published in an edited volume on 'Research Methods in Linguistics' (2010. ed. L. Litosseliti. Continuum).

Sebastian is a Fellow of the HEA and a member of the editorial boards of The Asian EFL Journal and The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL.


Associated careers

Our past students enjoy careers in 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.

Career Advice

Our Employability Service is here to help give you the best chance of landing the job you want. We’ll help you improve your skills and bulk up your CV to improve your career prospects.

As a distance learning student, you’ll still benefit from help and advice on CV writing, interview techniques, job hunting, and general careers advice.

To find out more please visit our careers advice page.

Entry Requirements

A good honours degree (or equivalent), normally in a related subject. Applicants with professional experience are also encouraged to apply.

As a distance learner, you’ll also need a suitable computer with internet connection, together with sufficient IT competence to make effective use of word processing, internet and email.

If English is not your first language, you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

Fees & Funding

This course costs £6,700 in total.

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