Masters – a matter of focus
This year the EL Gazette has gone for a new approach in its listing of UK and Irish masters degrees – the focus of each course. Melanie Butler explains why it was time for a change.
For the first time in over twenty years the Gazette has redesigned its annual listing of ELT-related masters in the UK and Ireland, following an analysis of feedback from postgraduate students on such courses published in the ‘Good MA Guide’ in our June edition last year.
This year we arranged the masters degrees into four categories. This table lists the linguistics-focused ones. For more information on how we organised the listings, please see below the chart.
* = programme open to new teachers (does not list teaching experience as an entry requirement)
Fees for the courses below are listed according to the most recent data on the universities’ websites. They are shown here as an indication only; for more current information, please contact the institutions themselves (by clicking on the course names below).
|Centre name||Course name||Teaching practice||Course length||Course fees||Start dates||Entry requirements|
|Anglia Ruskin University||MA Applied Linguistics and Tesol (on campus and DL)||Part of the course consists of the observation of teaching||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £5,665 (EU), £9,800 (O); PT: linked pro rata to full-time rate||Sep, Jan||2:1 or equivalent in languages, linguistics, education, psychology, sociology or other related area and/or relevant professional experience. Ielts 6.5 (no individual score lower than 6)|
|Edinburgh, University of||MSc Applied Linguistics*||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £6,050 (EU), £16,550 (O); PT: £3,025 (EU), £8,275 (O)||Sep||2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. Ielts 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)|
|Essex, University of||MA Applied Linguistics*||Optional teaching practice||FT: 12 months||£5,500 (EU), £13,500 (O)||Oct||Upper-second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in relevant subject. Ielts 6.5 with 6 in writing, or equivalent.|
|Goldsmiths, University of London||MA Sociocultural Linguistics||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £4,750 (EU), £11,700 (O)||Sep||2:1 in a related field, relevant teaching or other professional experience will be taken into account. Ielts 7.0 (7.0 in the written element)|
|MA Multilingualism, Linguistics and Education||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £4,750 (EU), £11,700 (O)||Sep||As above. Ielts 6.5 (6.5 in the written element and no individual element lower than 6.0)|
|Lancaster University||MA Tefl||Micro teaching to peers||FT: 12 months; PT: 24 months||FT: £5,950 (EU), £12,880 (O), PT: £2,975 (EU)||Oct||2:1 degree in a relevant discipline. Foreign language teaching experience. Ielts 6.5 (6.5 in reading/writing and 6.0 in listening/speaking)|
|MA Tesol||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 24 months (DL)||FT: £5,950 (EU), £12,880 (O), PT: £2,975 (EU), £6,440 (O) (DL)||Oct||2:1 or equivalent plus over two years’ full-time foreign language teaching experience. Ielts 6.5 (with 6.0 in listening and speaking and 6.5 in reading and writing) or equivalent|
|MA Tesol in Hong Kong||No||PT: 24 months||HK$98,900||Oct||As above|
|MA in Language Testing (by Distance)||No||PT/DL: 24 months||FT: £5,950 (EU), £12,880 (O); PT: £2,975 (EU), £6,440 (O)||Sep||2:1 honours degree, three years’ teaching experience and/or a post with responsibility for language test design, construction and evaluation. Ielts 6.5 (6.0 in listening/speaking and 6.5 in reading/writing)|
|Liverpool, University of||MA Applied Linguistics||Some practical training||FT: 1 year||£5,300 (EU), £12,200 (O)||Sep||2:1 bachelors degree in English studies or similar. Ielts 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component plus one year’s relevant teaching experience.|
|Reading, University of||MA Applied Linguistics||No||FT: 12 months; PT: 2 years; Flexible: up to 6 years||FT: £5,500 (EU), £12,600 (O); PT: £3,025 (EU), £6,930 (O)||Oct||Relevant university degree (normally 2:1 or equivalent)|
|Sunderland, University of||MA Tesol*||Teaching practice and teaching observation.||FT: 1 year; DL: 18 months||FT: £4,050 (EU), £9,400 (O); DL: £6,000 + £330 (EU and O)||Sep||A first degree or equivalent and excellent English language skills. Ielts 6.5, or equivalent.|
|Sussex, University of||MA Applied Linguistics*||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £5,500 (EU), £13,000 (O)||Sep||Either 2:1 honours degree in a linguistics and/ or English language and/or modern languages degree or 2:1 honours degree in any subject. Ielts 7.0, (6.5 in each section)|
|Trinity College Dublin||MPhil Applied Linguistics*||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: €7,250 (EU), €14,500 (O); PT: €4,750 (EU), €8,250 (O)||Sep||2:1 honours degree from an Irish university or equivalent. Ielts 6.5 with no individual band below 6, or equivalent|
|MPhil ELT*||Yes||FT: 1 year||€7,250 (EU), €14,500 (O)||Sep||As above|
|University College Cork||MA Applied Linguistics*||No||FT: 1 year||€5,400 (EU)||Sep||BA degree (second-class honours or above) in a language subject, or equivalent.|
|Westminster, University of||MA Tesol*||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £5,000 (EU), £11,500 (O); PT: £2,500 (EU), £5,750 (O)||Sep||Good first degree or equivalent. Ielts 6.5 (with at least 6 in each component) or equivalent|
|MA Tesol and Creative Writing*||No||FT: 1 year; PT: 2 years||FT: £5,000 (EU), £11,500 (O); PT: £2,500 (EU), £5,750 (O)||Sep||Good first degree or equivalent. Ielts 6.5 (with 7.0 in writing) or equivalent|
Three of our listings identify the research focus of the university department offering the course: education, the English language and linguistics. The fourth category (listed third) comprises those MAs that focus on teaching. To be clear, this is a matter of emphasis. For example, masters degrees focused on teaching also cover related research. Which category each masters has been allocated is largely the choice of the course director, though we asked them to take into account the main area of research of the academic staff. In some universities, such as Birmingham and Edinburgh, different masters courses appear under different categories, reflecting the difference in research focus and balance between teaching and theory.
The decision to categorise masters courses according to research focus arose following two of the main complaints about masters courses in our ‘Good MA Guide’: around half the complainants thought the course they had done contained too much theory, while the other half thought there was too little. These are not new complaints, nor is the demand for more practical input in terms of teaching practice, teaching observation or work placements.
Part of the problem lies in the difference between the British tradition of masters for teachers and the US one. In the US a masters is usually a pre-service qualification with a heavy practical bias and a practicum, as teaching practice is known, whereas traditionally in the UK teachers take masters after an initial qualification and several years’ experience. An increasing number of British universities are offering masters suitable for graduates new to teaching (marked with a * in our listings), and there has been a sharp rise in the number including practical input. A small number, including Reading and Swansea, are even offering a portfolio route, in which teaching practice, lesson planning and materials design are offered as an alternative to the traditional research-based dissertation and can lead to an initial teaching qualification. The vast majority, however, still require a research dissertation and thus inevitably an introduction to research methodology. Moreover most UK masters are still designed for experienced teachers, as you will see if you read the entry requirements carefully.
We hope that this categorisation will make it easier for prospective postgrads to make a more informed decision about the sort of course that will suit them. It is certainly clearer than going by the name of the degree – applied linguistics certainly does not always imply more linguistics than a masters in Tesol or Tefl. In Britain even the titles MEd, MA and MSc are not a reliable indicator. The same department may offer more than one degree in the same field with the same name but a different title: Aston’s MA Tesol, for example, is open to students new to teaching, while its MSc Tesol requires two years’ teaching. And while only departments of education offer MEds and the Institute of Education (part of the University of London) awards an MA, the departments of education at Oxford, Edinburgh and Glasgow all award MScs, because as ‘ancient universities’ they all award MAs as a first degree.
Finally we apologise that this listing is less comprehensive than usual. However, while we spent over two working weeks on the research, emailing every course coordinator at least twice, copying emails to at least one other member of staff listed on the website, and calling, or attempting to call, those who did not answer written requests, we received no information on several of the courses we have listed in previous issues. Since the categorisations we are using depend on the designation of the course director, not Gazette guesswork, only in rare instances where we knew the courses well did we use our own discretion. We are happy to hear from any academics whose courses do not appear in this listing and will retain their information until the next time we run the grid. We will, however, not be able to publish apologies or updates regarding courses for which we have requested information but not received any.