Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Master’s listings

Your guide to understanding how to read them, as explained by our editor-in-chief, Melanie Butler

The EL Gazette UK Master’s listing is, as its name implies, a list, not a ranking. We do not claim to know whether a certain Scottish university is objectively better than another in Wales or Yorkshire, but we aim to give you enough objective third-party information to help you decide which university may be better for you.

In this year’s edition, as well as providing a list of institutions and courses which is as comprehensive as we can make it, we are showing the comparative results from three official sources which may help would-be students choose the course for them.

These three sources look at different aspects of an institution’s provision: the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) tells us how good, comparatively, a university is at teaching; the British Council (BC) accreditation scheme tells us how good that university is at teaching English; and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) tells us how good the specific department which runs this Master’s course is at research in areas related to English language teaching.

There are other sources we could have used. For example, only 34 universities choose to be accredited for English language teaching by the British Council and not all of those offer Master’s. A further 23 are accredited by BALEAP, which focuses in on the teaching of academic English. Just two universities are accredited by both.

In our listing, we only include the British Council accredited institutions because they publish full inspection reports, enabling us to provide comparative information. BALEAP, though more clearly focused on the English needed for university, does not, unfortunately provide such data.

Here are the relevant details for each of these schemes.


The REF evaluates research from specific university departments under a number of headings. Most ELT-related research comes under three of those headings: education, English language and linguistics. Where the university department offering a specific Master’s has received a judgement that the research was of international standard or world class overall, we have put the name of the subject area in red in the REF column on the grid.


This ranks the overall teaching in all English universities as bronze where it is satisfactory, silver where it is good and gold where it is excellent. These results are shown in the column by coloured stars. Many universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not take part in this scheme.


This is marked ‘Yes’ where the university is accredited. Universities which rank in the top 20% of language centres in the country based on their inspection reports are marked as Centres of Excellence.

The EL Gazette tries to make its Master’s listing as comprehensive as we can. If we have inadvertently missed out a university or a relevant Master’s course, let us know and we will add it to future rankings.

Image courtesy of Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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