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Preparing for TESOL Inquiry and Dissertation

Module titlePreparing for TESOL Inquiry and Dissertation
Module codeEFPM329
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Professor Li Li (Convenor)

Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

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

Syllabus plan

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

Critical reading; Searching and Reviewing literature; Finding a suitable topic; Moving from Topic to Research questions; Project Design; Theoretical aspects of research; Research Methodologies; Research Ethics; Methods of Data Collection; Quantitative and Qualitative Data Analysis; Writing the dissertation.

Learning and teaching

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 activities2010 Lectures x 2 hours (full time and part time)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities105 Workshops x 2 hours
Scheduled learning and teaching activities10Individual supervision
Guided Independent Study130A variety of private study tasks directed by module tutors through online materials (in ELE). These tasks may include (with an indicative number of hours):
Guided Independent Study430Carrying out of research enquiry, for example, 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.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

TESOL, masters, dissertation, educational research

Credit value60
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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