Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

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How to Apply

Key features

  • Includes an observation and teaching placement both for pre-experience language teachers and post-experience teachers wishing to further develop their teaching skills
  • A balanced blend of theoretical input in language teaching and linguistics and practical skills development
  • Engages teachers with reflection on professional practice and research in English language teaching
  • Develops reflection and research skills to support continuing professional development

Why study Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)?

The MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programme is for people who wish to teach English as a second or foreign language, or further develop their TESOL career prospects. The MA TESOL at Bath Spa University is one of the few TESOL programmes in the UK which incorporates a placement component and is designed for both experienced teachers and those with little or no previous teaching experience.

The programme aims to develop confident, well informed, resourceful language teaching practitioners who are capable of designing and teaching comprehensive language programmes. At the same time you will extend your own knowledge base by engaging in independent research into your own practice and setting.

The programme recognises and values your professional, cultural and life experiences and you will develop and explore these experiences during the programme. This will enhance your professional knowledge and understanding through reflection, aided by theoretical input and practical application.

Context specific professional development is an important element in the programme as we prepare you to return to your home country with an adaptable knowledge base for your particular setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Do I need to have teaching experience to take this degree?
    • A: No, teaching experience is welcome but not essential. Students with sufficient teaching experience have the option to take an Independent Study module instead of the more practically oriented Theory and Practice of TESOL after consultation with the Award Lead.
  • Q: Why should I study at Bath Spa University?
    • A: There are many reasons to choose Bath Spa University! We are a modern and progressive institution with a long and successful history dating back 160 years. Based in the world heritage city of Bath, our campuses are beautiful and steeped in history with modern facilities blended sympathetically with older buildings. Our community is very welcoming and values creativity, culture, enterprise and education.
  • Q: Why should I choose this MA in TESOL?
    • A: This programme provides a balance of academic and professional content and experience aiding your understanding of the key theories and principles in TESOL. You will develop your ability in language analysis and understanding as well as furthering your knowledge on how to incorporate this appropriately in class materials. We have a flexible and supportive learning programme that not only develops your current understanding and knowledge in TESOL but also looks to the future and provides you with the necessary research and reflection skills to successfully continue on your chosen career path. A dedicated tutor will be identified to support your academic and personal development throughout the programme
  • Q: Is there a distance learning option available?
    • A: There is currently no full distance learning option available but we do offer a low residency alternative for international students.

Course structure

The MA TESOL is available both full and part-time, and for international students there is also a Low-Residency option. There are two entry points each year for the full and part-time routes, these are September and February. The Low-Residency option currently accepts students for a September start only.

The one year full-time route has taught modules (totalling 120 credits) being taken for the first two trimesters and the dissertation (60 credits) being completed in the third trimester. The part-time route is taken over two years, completing one module per trimester.

There are two modules in the first trimester, one covers the practical skills of language teaching and includes teaching practice in an appropriate school setting, the other analyses language from a discourse perspective and incorporates practical analysis tasks.

Suitably experienced teachers may choose an Independent Study module over the practical Theory and Practice of TESOL module in this trimester. The Independent Study module is negotiated with the Award Leader and allows for a more personalised learning experience.

The programme continues the practical and theoretical mix in trimester two while fostering independent study skills and culminates with the dissertation in the third trimester.

Throughout the programme the amount of independent study gradually increases, both within and across modules, in order to build your confidence and self-reliance. As your future continuing professional development is also important to us, reflection, as a key skill, is interwoven into all modules to nurture your ability to continue learning beyond the MA TESOL.


We offer a Low-Residency option for international students currently with a September intake only. You will attend Bath Spa University twice a year for one or two intensive weeks of teaching input (usually September and January). This is followed by a period of study in which assignments are completed and submitted before the next face-to-face teaching block. There is no placement opportunity for this programme route. Completion of the MA TESOL will take one or two years depending on the number of modules taken during the face-to-face blocks.


Trimester 1

The first trimester begins with Theory and Practice of TESOL and Language Analysis for TESOL. These modules include theoretical knowledge and practical skills both for classroom practice and language analysis. Reflection, as a core knowledge area for the degree, is firmly set into the learning and assessment for both modules. The placement component runs throughout the trimester with the latter module focusing on practical language analysis tasks and reflection on language analysis approaches. For suitably experienced teachers the Independent Study module is an option to be discussed with the Award Leader.

Trimester schedule 2015/16: Each module runs for 10 weeks and involves two three hour sessions, one for each module on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and placement in a school usually on Tuesday each week. We also recommend you spend at least 20 hours on private independent study per module per week.

Trimester 2

The second trimester builds on the first with a more critical and in-depth focus on TESOL theories of learning and teaching in Second Language Learning and Teaching. This module incorporates a further placement opportunity and reflection on theory and practice. The research module, Research Methods in Social Science, allows for an individual focus on research methods and begins the thinking for the dissertation. This is a key trimester for the dissertation where reflection and discussion on research ideas and core TESOL areas is encouraged.

Trimester schedule 2015/16: Each module runs for 10 weeks and involves two three hour sessions, one for each module on Thursday and Friday mornings, and placement in a school each week. We also recommend you spend at least 20 hours on private independent study per module per week.

Trimester 3

In your third trimester you will continue your studies through researching and writing your Dissertation (60 credits). Your dissertation topic is chosen in consultation with a nominated supervisor. This process begins in trimester two, in conjunction with the research module, allowing for ideas to develop and time to explore alternative concepts and methodologies before fully embarking on your research. Trimester three is primarily independent study with support from your supervisor through various channels such as face-to-face and skype discussions, with online and/or email feedback.

Course assessment

Both formative and summative assessment is built into each core module with no written exams utilised in any module. Summative assessment takes the form of a portfolio of tasks which may include oral presentations, reflection on module learning and teaching practice, essays and analysis tasks. All summative assessment is supported by formative work during the module which includes discussions with tutors and colleagues, feedback on presentations and assignment drafts, journal reflections and class activities.

Teaching and learning methods utilised include lectures, seminars, workshops, directed classroom-based activities and discussion to promote and enhance reflection. Peer-teaching opportunities, presentations and student led workshops are also employed throughout the programme. You are encouraged to keep a journal for your observation and teaching placement which enhances and supports reflection on your experience. This aids continuation of discussions linking theory to practice which begin in class and continues throughout the programme on an individual self-reflection and peer reflection basis.

Teaching methods

Your fellow course participants are an important resource to draw on through shared experience and stories as you build a community of practice. The university offers many supportive resources including a virtual learning environment, which will support your online discussions and knowledge enhancement, and various library resources. There is also a Writing and Learning Centre offering academic support for writing and independent study skills, and the English Language Unit which supports those whose first language is not English.

Staff / Tutors

Róisín Ní Mhocháin: Senior Lecturer in TESOL

Róisín is an experienced English language teacher and TESOL trainer. She has lived and worked in Ireland, UK, Libya, Japan, Slovakia, Portugal, UAE, Vietnam and Mexico.

She has worked in secondary level education as an English language teacher and also taught in private and higher education language centres. She has designed and taught on both initial and continuing teacher education courses for undergraduate, postgraduate and non-credit bearing awards. Her research interests are teacher and teacher trainer education, classroom language and interactional competence, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and the application of research to teacher training and the language classroom. She is pursuing a doctorate in Applied Linguistics.

The programme will also be supported by other tutors from the School of Education.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

For all enquiries and details of how to apply please contact the CPD Administrator:

T: +44 (0)1225 875593

E: cpdadmin@bathspa.ac.uk

The Award Leader is Róisín Ní Mhocháin

Entry requirements

Students will typically have a good undergraduate degree (at least a 2:1) in an appropriate specialism from a recognised higher education institution. Teaching experience is welcome but not essential.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) can be offered if you have successfully completed previous Level 6 or 7 modules at another university. We will require a full transcript from the awarding university. Applicants with a Cambridge ESOL Delta or a Trinity College London Diploma in TESOL (DipTESOL) gained within the last 6 years can receive 60 credits, equivalent to the credits from the first trimester, so can therefore join the programme in the second trimester.  

It is also possible to gain accreditation for other kinds of professional development by compiling an independent study portfolio of professional development (APEL - Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning).

Students wishing to take the Independent Study module in the first trimester must supply evidence of teaching experience in the form of a letter from a past/current employer. The decision to allow a student to follow the independent study option will be taken by the Award Leader after discussion with the student and considering the evidence provided.

International students, whose first language is not English, are required to have a minimum language level of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four components.

In the UK a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is required to work with children and vulnerable adults. All course participants will need to complete the necessary paperwork before starting their placement for the programme. There is an additional fee required for this process.

Career opportunities

Successful completion of the MA TESOL will reveal new or alternate career options including: English language teaching (general or specialised), promotion possibilities, language teacher trainer, materials writing, curriculum development, language textbook editor, Educational management, Director of Studies/Assistant Director of Studies.

The programme also serves as a stepping stone to PhD studies in TESOL, education and linguistics.

What students say...

Laura Jimenez Guaman, MA TESOL 2014-2015

Read her views on being a language teacher here.

Rachel Grove, MA TESOL, 2009-2011

Since completing the course in 2011 I have taught EFL with Young Learners and adults on short courses in the UK, Austria, Italy, Poland, Switzerland as well as a year abroad in China. I am now teaching EAL in Birmingham. The MA TESOL qualification has helped me tremendously and gives me credibility when talking about linguistics with my colleagues. I also have a strong work ethic which I developed whilst completing the Master’s course.


Stephen Cooke, MA TESOL, 2009-2011

Bath Spa University is in a convenient location on a lovely campus, it’s not too big and impersonal. The best part of the MA TESOL for me was having the opportunity to practise the teaching theories by teaching overseas undergraduates.Every door has been opened in my career since I completed the programme and I have been busy teaching English to speakers of other languages. My advice to others considering this programme is, ‘Do it!’