Applied Linguistics and TESOL (with Professional Experience) MA

Build professional experience and enhance your teaching skills on this two-year Master's degree. Become an effective TESOL practitioner, ready to work in the UK or overseas.

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If you're a teacher of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL, ELT, EFL, EAP), or looking to begin a TESOL career, this two-year MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL (with Professional Experience) degree will enable you to enhance your skills and employability with real workplace experience.  

During your first year, you'll be taught by our linguistics experts at the University, learning to apply the latest TESOL theory to classroom situations and critically evaluate your own approaches to teaching in a global context. You'll also work on lesson and course planning and design, and learn how to conduct and analyse research into teaching techniques.

If you've completed initial ELT, TESOL or TEFL teacher training but you don't yet have a minimum of three months full-time teaching experience, you'll also do an extra module to build up your practical teaching skills.

In Year two, you'll apply your learning on an 8-10 month work placement tailored to your career goals.

You'll graduate with the communication and intercultural skills and expertise to work as a more effective and well-rounded TESOL practitioner, in the UK or overseas. You could also go on to roles in areas such as educational management or leadership, curriculum development, editing, publishing or advertising.

Prefer to study without a work placement?

You can also study for this Applied Linguistics and TESOL Master's in just one year without spending time building professional experience.


This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Gain first-hand experience on an 8-10 month work placement related to your chosen career, such as in an English language school, allowing you to apply theory to practice and build a solid professional network
  • Enhance your abilities to teach English to speakers of other languages in the UK and around the world
  • Expand your knowledge of the theories and methods used in linguistics, and conduct and analyse research into teaching techniques
  • Reflect on your classroom practice in order to improve the way you teach
  • Learn to plan and design lessons and courses that create an effective and engaging learning experience for students

Why study MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL?

Whether you're already an experienced TESOL practitioner or want to embark on a new career, the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL will develop your abilities as a teacher of English to speakers of other languages, and give you the opportunity to gain work experience too if you take the work placement pathway.

Discover what students enjoy about the course, and how we'll help set you up for success.

Zarir Bin Kalam: I saw that there was a vast opportunity in the teaching field where I can do some good to the community. I want to become a teacher. I want to do some good for the world.

Dr Quyen Tran: Our popular and distinctive MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL is designed for both prospective and experienced teachers.

Dr Nick Bertenshaw: It's designed for those who’ve maybe done quite a bit of teaching before, and they want to learn more about the theory.

Marina Barantseva: Even if you're an experienced teacher and you're good at it, at some point you’ll realise that you need to integrate theory and practice.

Dr Nick Bertenshaw: We also look at the theory behind all this. So for example, there's a module on second language acquisition where we ask the teachers to reflect on their teaching, learning and how this actually relates to the theories.

We offer this course as both full-time and part-time. It's also available on campus and in a distance learning format so students can be anywhere in the world and take the course.

Jane Ugwu: For me, the staff have been very, very supportive in helping me to achieve my dreams.

Dr Quyen Tran: Many of our colleagues are internationally recognised authors and their vast subjects expertise really influences the topics covered in the course.

Trang Nguyen: My favourite topic on this course is Classroom of TESOL. It’s very practical.

Zarir Bin Kalam: I get to know about the world and the human culture a lot. I really love that about MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL.

Dr Quyen Tran: If students choose the pathway with the professional experience year, in the first year of their course, they will attend many placement preparation sessions. They will have the opportunities to work in public schools or private language institutions. They will receive plenty of support from our placement team.

Dr Nick Bertenshaw: Career opportunities for this course could be moving to a more senior role or some kind of promotion. Lots of our students are teachers beforehand. But aside from that, there's also opportunities for things like publishing. Students should study at Portsmouth because it's a really exciting city. We're right by the sea here.

Dr Quyen Tran: Everything that the students may need is within walking distance.

Dr Nick Bertenshaw: It's a really interesting, vibrant city.

Jane Ugwu: I decided to take on educational pursuits in Applied Linguistics and TESOL, and I've really been able to achieve a lot of things. So for me it’s a dream come true.

Contact information


+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

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Entry requirements


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

September 2024 / January 2025 start

  • A second-class honours degree or equivalent.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country

  • Initial teacher training and a minimum of three months full-time, relevant, teaching experience.
  • If you do not have relevant teaching experience, you can still apply for our campus programme, and you will study an additional non-credit bearing module The Classroom Practice of TESOL at no additional cost. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.5.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2024 / January 2025 start)

  • Full time: £10,400 (plus £1,800 for the work-based module/placement)

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £10,400 (plus £1,800 for the work-based module/placement)

  • Full time: £17,900 (plus £2,875 for the work-based module/placement)

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Tuition fees terms and conditions

Funding your studies

Find out more how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover. 

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government postgraduate loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students and our international student scholarships.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

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Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

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Fees and funding for Master's courses

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Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Placement expenses: You'll need to budget for travel to and from your placement or placements.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.


What you'll study

Core modules

You’ll explore leading theories and models explaining successful language learning, considering how individual differences intersect with social, cultural and linguistic environments.

You’ll reflect on your own unique language journey to help you rethink teaching practices. Gain tools to evaluate multilingual language policies and program design grounded in evidence-based best practices for dual language, ELL and foreign language education contexts.

You'll consider both what we know about how people learn languages and the practical considerations determined by the context in which the classroom teaching happens.

You'll learn about planning activities, lessons and courses for a variety of situations, as well as strategies for motivating learners.

Optional modules

With academic guidance, you'll choose your own literature or empirical topic within a field of study that fits the parameters of your intended Master’s exit award.

You'll bring together everything you’ve learned to design and evaluate ethical methodologies, conduct systematic research, and communicate your ideas professionally in your dissertation or report.

Learn to critically examine how powerful sociocultural forces and ideologies subtly shape real-world communication.

You’ll look at written and spoken texts from multiple perspectives, and develop your sensitivity to how interpersonal relationships, social contexts and power dynamics influence linguistic choices in different areas.

Through critical analysis and reflection, you’ll discover how key psychological concepts and theories relate to real-world language learning and teaching environments, including your own contexts.

You’ll learn about factors such as teacher and learner beliefs, emotions and identities that influence language learning and teaching. You’ll then use these insights to address issues and challenges informed by psychological theory and research.

You’ll cover the history and geography of English in the world, variation across Englishes, English as an international lingua franca, translanguaging, the pedagogy of English as an international language, linguistic imperialism, language and ideology, language and identity, and language and de-colonisation.

You'll critically evaluate the relevance of a range of classroom procedures and techniques, with a specific focus on their application in the language classroom.

Through this process, you'll learn to adapt these methodologies, ensuring they are effectively aligned with learning objectives and student needs.

Additionally, you'll gain practical teaching experience through the micro-teaching sessions included in the module, which will enable you to reflect on and refine your teaching practices.

By building your language expertise, you'll gain critical evaluation skills and blend theoretical insights into practical knowledge.

With expert guidance, you’ll choose a topic aligning with your specialisation, experiences and goals, and critically analyse, discuss and evaluate it in depth.

You’ll use primary and/or secondary data and/or practice to reach your own defined objectives.

You’ll not only on develop technological skills, but also create and critically evaluate relevant teaching and learning materials, with opportunities for linguistic research.

By the end of the module, you’ll have built a set of transferable skills related to the technologies used, and developed your analytical skills through discussions about how corpus methodologies are applied.

Core modules

With support from our Placement and Careers teams, you’ll be responsible for securing your own professional experience opportunity - whether it's an internship or work placement.

You'll develop professional connections and employability skills while preparing for life after your degree.

Other modules you'll study

You'll also do a Placement Preparation module, which isn't worth any credits but gets you ready to identify, secure and apply for a relevant work placement.

The Classroom Practice of TESOL module

If you don't have a minimum of three months full-time teaching experience, you'll do an extra non-credit-bearing module to build on your practical teaching skills, The Classroom Practice of TESOL.

On this module you'll have the opportunity to discuss, share and explore practical classroom techniques and materials in an informal workshop setting, including micro-teaching and guest speakers from publications such as National Geographic and Cambridge University Press.

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, course content is revised and regularly reviewed.  This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Facilities and specialist equipment

You'll have the option to use these facilities during your studies:
two female students speaking with headsets

Digital Language Laboratories

Perfect your listening and comprehension skills in a rich, multi-media language learning environment. Find out how to integrate and manipulate video, sound, text and internet sources in different languages.

Explore the laboratories

Student group discussion

Global Café

You can meet students from all over the world at the Global Café on Wednesday afternoons. Learn about other's cultures and practise speaking in each other's languages while making new friends and getting to share your own culture.

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

It is our expectation that all international students will join us here on campus in Portsmouth.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take two years (one year at University and 8-10 months gaining professional experience).

Year 1 – At University

You’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes and workshops for about 9 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course.

Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings. There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.

Year 2 – Professional experience

During the 8-10 months of your work placement, your working hours will depend on your employer and role but are likely to be around 35–40 hours a week.

You'll also do around 7 hours of seminars/tutorials and work on your assessment, for which you'll need to dedicate independent study time.


Teaching methods on this course include:

  • seminars
  • workshop sessions
  • one-to-one and group tutorials
  • academic skills development workshops


You’ll be assessed through:

  • written assessments
  • dissertation

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Quyen Phuc Tran Portrait

Dr Quyen Tran

Senior Teaching Fellow

School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Read more
Peter Aaron Watkins Portrait

Dr Peter Watkins

Principal Lecturer

School of Education, Languages and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

Read more

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project / dissertation.

January start

Courses that start in January have the same amount of teaching as September-start courses, but they normally run over a longer time period.

January-start courses normally run between 14–18 months, beginning in January and ending in the spring / summer of the following year. There are breaks at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. In the last few months you’ll be writing your project / dissertation.

See key dates

Career development

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

English is a global language. It's taught and learned all around the world – so much so that people who have learned it as a second language now outnumber native English speakers (ThoughtCo).

Those who teach English to speakers of other languages need expert training in the field, both theoretical and in the classroom, in order to provide the highest standards of teaching.

This Master's course will give you an internationally recognised qualification, 8-10 months of professional experience, and the linguistics and teaching theory to gain a competitive advantage and deliver the best possible TESOL training.

Graduates of this course have gone onto areas such as:

  • teaching English as a second/foreign language
  • teaching ESOL in the UK
  • teaching other languages, applying skills learning on this course
  • educational management and/or leadership
  • teacher training
  • materials writing
  • curriculum development
  • editing
  • publishing
  • advertising

Graduates of this course have gone onto roles such as:

  • Director of Studies (DoS)
  • Senior Teacher
  • Senior Lecturer of English as a Foreign Language

Career outcomes shown are sourced from the latest available graduate outcome surveys. The data shows career outcomes at 15 months after graduation.

9 reasons to do a Master's

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert careers advice from our Careers and Employability Centre, your tutors and our Student Placements and Employability Centre. You can access support from our Careers and Employability Centre for up to 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

Placement year

The second year of this degree is dedicated to gaining professional experience.

You'll do this by doing a work placement for 8-10 months, after you've completed your year of taught studies.

Work placement

A work placement gives you the opportunity to get valuable professional experience in an area related to your chosen career.

You can begin looking and applying for placements after completing your first teaching block. You'll get support from the Careers and Employability Centre and the Faculty Placement Team in identifying and applying for suitable placements, and enhancing your employability skills.

Placement opportunities are likely to be in the following areas:

  • teaching in English language schools
  • working as a language assistant in local schools
  • publishing
  • advertising
  • journalism and the media, including social media

Note that work placements can't be guaranteed because it depends on their availability and the specific needs of placement providers. We'll give you the support you need to identify work placements but you'll be responsible for securing a placement successfully.

Supporting you

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • understanding and using assignment feedback
  • managing your time and workload
  • revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start dates in September and January, as long as there are places available. If you wait until your start month to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Ready to apply?

Start this course in September 2024

Apply now (Full-time) 

Start this course in January 2025

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I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2023, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.