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Study information

Preparing for TESOL Inquiry and Dissertation

Module titlePreparing for TESOL Inquiry and Dissertation
Module codeEFPM329
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Nicholas Bremner (Convenor)

Dr William Pearson (Lecturer)

Professor Salah Troudi (Lecturer)

Dr Esmaeel Abdollahzadeh (Lecturer)

Professor Dongbo Zhang (Lecturer)

Dr Gabriela Meier (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This 60 credit module will introduce you to TESOL research and support you in designing and carrying out a small-scale research project on a TESOL topic of your choice. This is often referred to as the dissertation module because the main output is a dissertation reporting on this research project. The module consists of online materials and taught components that build and support the research skills you require. You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor who will support you in writing a research proposal, carrying out your project and writing the dissertation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are:

  • To understand the purpose and uses of TESOL research in relations to theory development, policy formation and professional practice;
  • To critically examine the available paradigms and modes of educational enquiry with a view to a research enquiry;
  • To design an appropriate enquiry and select suitable methods for the enquiry and justify these in theoretical terms;
  • To carry out a small scale enquiry within TESOL field at Master’s  level;
  • To interpret evidence and discuss its relevance to existing enquiry;  and
  • To develop a critical understanding of the ethical issues associated with educational  enquiry.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront TESOL research and practice;
  • 2. demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research;
  • 3. demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in language teaching and learning, and related fields;
  • 4. demonstrate conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in TESOL; and to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. demonstrate awareness and ability to manage the implications of ethical dilemmas and work pro-actively with others to formulate solutions;
  • 6. demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques/ methodologies applicable to their own work

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. demonstrate an ability to undertake research tasks competently with minimum guidance;
  • 8. demonstrate the ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound
  • 9. demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act
  • 10. take responsibility for the direction and management of the research and its resolution.

Syllabus plan

The module consists of a series of lectures, workshops and on-line resources. Topics are selected from the following:

  • Introduction to research and writing a dissertation
  • Searching and reviewing literature
  • Research paradigms and methodologies
  • Choosing your topic and research questions
  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Observation
  • Quantitative research and analysis
  • Qualitative research and analysis
  • Mixed methods research
  • Research ethics
  • Writing up

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2211 Lectures x 2 hours (full time and part time)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities126 Workshops x 2 hours
Scheduled learning and teaching activities10Individual supervision
Guided Independent Study556A variety of private study tasks directed by module tutors through online materials (in ELE). These tasks may include: Carrying out of research enquiry, gathering data, analysing data, writing dissertation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research Proposal3000 words1-4, 5, 6Written formative feedback from supervisor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Dissertation10012000 words1-10Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
DissertationResubmission of Dissertation1-10Usually 6 weeks

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Baumfield, V., Hall, E. and Wall, K. (2008) Action Research in the Classroom. London:  Sage.

Bitchener, J. (2010) Writing an Applied Linguistics Thesis or Dissertation. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Burns, A. (2010) Doing Action Research in English Language Teaching. Abingdon:  Routledge

Dornyei, Z. (2007) Research Methods in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dornyei, Z. (2010) Questionnaires in second language research:. construction, administration, and processing: OUP

Gillham, B. (2000) Developing a Questionnaire. London: Continuum. Gillham, B. (2000) The Research Interview. London:  Continuum.

Gillham, B.(2008) Observation Techniques. London:  Continuum

Grix, J. (2004) The Foundations of Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave  MacMillan.

Heigham, J. and Croker, R. (2009) Qualitative Research in Applied Linguistics. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. McKay, S. (2006) Researching Second Language Classrooms. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Richards, K. (2003) Qualitative Enquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave  MacMillan.

Richards, K., Ross, S. & Seedhouse, P. (2012). Research Methods for Applied Language Studies. Routledge. Silverman, D. (2010). Doing Qualitative Research (3rd ed). London:  Sage.

Yin, R. (2014). Case Study Research. Sage. London: Sage.

There are also other general research methods books such as:

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2018) Research Methods in Education. London: Routledge. Hammersley, M. (2002). Educational Research: Policy Making and Practice. London: Paul  Chapman.

Robson, C. & McCartan, K. (2016).  Real world research: a resource for users of social research methods in applied settings. Hoboken: Wiley,

Thomas, G. (2013) How to do a research project. London: Sage Publications. Available at:  

Wellington, J. (2015) Educational Research: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches. London:  Continuum.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

TESOL, masters, dissertation, educational research

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Completion of relevant MEd TESOL modules to the value of 120 credits at level 7.

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date