Language Teaching (MA)

Birkbeck's specialist MA Language Teaching is designed for people who are already experienced foreign or second language teachers who want to develop their career opportunities, or those with less experience but a strong interest in pursuing a career in this field.

The programme will develop both your understanding of classroom practice and of key areas of research that inform practice. This is a course on which the importance of bridging the gap between theory and practice is valued and it is structured to reflect the fine balance between the two. Through your acquaintance with current literature and the research you carry out in completing course assignments, you will be able to engage critically and constructively in debates relating to a wide range of aspects of language teaching.

The programme's unique features are its focus on the multilingual and multicultural contexts of language learning and teaching; and that locally based teachers of languages other than English have the opportunity to share their experiences with students from all over world, thus gaining insight into a wide range of language teaching contexts internationally. In addition, you will be studying alongside students on the MA TESOL programme.

The programme is also unique in offering you a choice between two dissertation pathways: an empirical research investigation of an aspect of language teaching and learning or an independent library-based project on a topic of your choice.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Modern Languages and Linguistics achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 73% of our research was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • You will join a vibrant and diverse community supported by the Birkbeck College Applied Linguistics Society, which is student run. An annual Postgraduate Student Research Conference is organised by the Society every summer. In addition, the Centre for Multilingual and Multicultural Research hosts a lecture series given by international visiting scholars. Birkbeck also actively collaborates with the larger community of applied linguists throughout University of London colleges, including the Institute of Education (IoE), the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and University College London (UCL), which are all next door to Birkbeck in Bloomsbury, while King’s College London (KCL) is a short walk away.
  • You will gain a broader view of language teaching and learning by drawing on the rich and diverse research in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication.
  • Read a blog post by Professor Penelope Gardner-Chloros that considers what linguistics is.
  • If you are interested in an academic career, MA Language Teaching can allow you to progress to doctoral study.

Course structure

You take two core modules (worth 30 credits each) and two or three option modules (worth 30 credits each), and complete a 12,000-15,000-word dissertation (worth 60 credits) or a 4500-5000-word independent literature review (worth 30 credits).

Module groups

You will have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of modules in the course of your study. Please note that the list of option modules is only indicative and not all modules are available every year. Please check with the programme administrator which option modules are available in each academic year.

To find out more, read our programme handbook.

Sample timetable

PDF document icon ALC MA Timetable 2018-19.pdf — PDF document, 71 KB (72835 bytes)
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Usually an upper second-class honours degree or above, or overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject and/or relevant professional training and language teaching experience.

    You may be called to interview and you may also be asked for a lesson plan and post-lesson reflection of no more than 500 words.

    You must also provide one academic reference.

    If you have been awarded the Cambridge Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA) in the last five years, you may apply for credit for one option module (please indicate this in your application).

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £4075 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8175 pa
    Part-time international students: £7425 pa
    Full-time international students: £14850 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures, seminars, workshops and student presentations.

    Key teaching staff on this programme

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    For your coursework, you complete a dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words or an independent literature review of 4000-5000 words.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    MA Language Teaching will enhance your career prospects in a number of ways. If you are an experienced teacher it will help you to progress to a more senior or specialised position in language teaching, such as a senior teacher, director of studies, teacher trainer, consultant or materials developer. It is an essential qualification for those who wish to teach languages at university level, whether for general or more specific purposes. For those with less teaching experience, MA Language Teaching will give you a competitive early career advantage as you gain more experience in teaching posts.

    Graduates also go into careers in local government, the charity sector, public relations and the media, marketing, and lexicography and translation. Possible professions include secondary/further/higher education lecturer, publisher, or translator. This degree may also be useful in a variety of roles within local and national government, tourism/hospitality, or the media, as well as in becoming a speech and language therapist, community development worker, youth worker, or special educational needs teacher.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.