Postgraduate students care about reputation, according to a survey of ELT-related masters students across the UK. When they look for a masters, they rely on rankings. But which ones?
Most students rely on international league tables such as those published by the THE, QS or national newspapers. These give a clear picture of the reputation of a given university as a whole but tell you nothing about its reputation in the field of Applied
Linguistics and English Language Teaching – vital information for postgraduate students. There is a huge amount of data on UK universities and any number of rankings. In our MA listings in this issue we include information from three:
1. The THE 200. A in this box on our listing means the university ranks in the top 200 in the world. Remember that new universities rarely make these rankings. There are no universities under 50 years old in the top 100.
2. The REF. This refers to the Research Excellence Framework, a British government scheme that evaluates the level of research in every subject. A in this listing tells you that the department which runs this MA produces research of international importance in the subject you are studying.
Remember, research is very important for postgraduates aiming to work in academia. Always check the research interests of the staff teaching the course on the department website to make sure they cover what you want to study. However, postgraduates looking for practical teaching ideas and practice will find many of them in language centres, and these rarely submit research to the REF.
3. The TEF. This stands for the Teaching Evaluation Framework – a controversial government ranking largely based on undergraduate student feedback on the quality of teaching they have received. Universities choose whether to take part and many, including most of those in Scotland, decide not to. However, a in this box tells you that undergraduate students at this university rate their teaching as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.
This is not the only information you can find in our listing. We print all the ELT-related masters in each university and also the name of the department which runs it. Many universities have more than one course offered in more than one department.
We mark masters with a pencil icon when they offer teaching practice, something which is in strong demand among students with no teaching experience but relatively rare in the UK.
Finally we mark courses that offer good value for their rankings with a star. A next to a £ sign means the course is good value for EU citizens and next to a $ sign it means good value for international students. A word of warning: don’t expect to find a course at a top-200 university with excellent research results, fantastic student feedback on teaching and teaching practice all at a very low price – though if you look carefully there are certainly bargains to be had.