Formerly known as the MSc in Teaching English Language in University Settings, the Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching is a specialised distance/online Master’s degree in applied linguistics aimed at teachers of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and modern foreign languages.

The course is particularly suited to teachers who:

  • prepare students for English-medium institution university study (e.g. EAP)
  • co-teach with content instructors in an EMI programme (e.g. ESP)
  • teach modern foreign languages, and want to further their knowledge of language learning and teaching
  • aspire to move into teaching language in diverse educational settings worldwide, where languages play an important role
  • want to enhance their theoretical knowledge of applied linguistics as it relates to language teaching

Obtaining the MSc ALLT allows many graduates to go on to teach language in universities around the world, or to progress in their career to more senior positions, where a master’s degree is essential. The degree also allows students to pursue further research degrees such as a PhD or EdD.

The programme is a two-year part time course aimed at working teachers, with a one-week residential module held in August. The course director is Dr Heath Rose.

The Course


This innovative two-year part-time course aims to provide a cutting-edge introduction to the linguistic and pedagogic knowledge and skills needed for teaching language. While the concepts covered in the course can be applied to all languages in most contexts, there is a strong opportunity for students to specialize in the teaching of English language in university settings.


A low-residency course, it is characterised by intense online interaction and feedback, using a range of communication media. Its small-group teaching format pursues the Oxford tradition of demanding much of students and giving them much in return. The course offers a stimulating environment in which students can broaden their knowledge, deepen their understanding and sharpen their skills in contact with current research in applied linguistics.

Students are admitted in the first instance as students on the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching. After completing PGDip modules they then progress to the MSc, and complete their dissertation during that year, under the supervision of a member of the applied linguistics group.

Students complete the following modules:

  • Induction (Formatively assessed module)
  • Learning and teaching vocabulary
  • Materials and assessment in language teaching
  • Sociolinguistics and language teaching
  • Individual and group differences in language teaching
  • Listening and reading processes in language learning
  • Developing second language speaking and writing
  • Research methods (Formatively assessed module)
  • Dissertation

Overview of modules:

Induction (Formatively assessed residential module). This module precedes a cohort’s first assessed module, and takes place in August.  In this module students build a learning community that will continue as an online community, acquire skills in academic reading and writing, carry out a knowledge and skills audit, acquire the basics of quantitative & qualitative data analysis, develop skills in accessing the diverse electronic resources available to Oxford students and in managing their references, develop skills in using the virtual learning environment (VLE), and complete a formatively assessed assignment.

Learning and teaching of vocabulary. Outcomes: students will develop an understanding of the major issues and concepts in the field of vocabulary learning and teaching; will understand what it means to know a word or a multi-word unit; will be aware of the empirical evidence for how second language words are learnt, stored and retrieved; will be able to judge what the lexical requirements are for efficient university study in a second language; will have a thorough understanding of word frequency and how this relates to the use of corpora in language teaching; and will develop skills in designing and implementing programmes of vocabulary teaching for their students based on needs analysis for groups of learners.

Materials and assessment in language learning. Outcomes: students will develop an awareness of the critical literature in the field of materials evaluation and design; will focus on needs analysis as a prerequisite both of materials evaluation and of materials design; will develop criteria for evaluating language teaching materials in general, and materials for university settings in particular; will acquire skills in evaluating materials at micro- and macro-levels. Students will develop an understanding of the major concepts and issues in the field of language assessment; will be aware of issues such as validity, reliability, impact, washback effect, rating procedures and the social aspects of language testing and how these can be taken into consideration in both the development of summative assessment instruments and in preparation of students for standard tests, with regard to the needs of particular groups of students.

Sociolinguistics and language teaching. Outcomes: students will develop an awareness of language in its plurality, to accurately understand how language is used in global contexts. There is a large focus on English, examining the implications of World Englishes research on the teaching of grammar in university contexts. It also looks at language spread, language contact and language change, including linguicism and linguistic genocide. It examines the impact of English on the teaching and learning of other Modern Foreign Languages. Students will learn about globalization, and the internationalization of higher education, and the implications for English language teaching in contexts where students need to learn the language as a lingua franca, of for use in English medium instruction.

Individual and group differences in language learning. Outcomes: students will develop an awareness of the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the study of individual and group differences in second language learning, a broad knowledge of the empirical evidence for differences, and an ability critically to evaluate studies in the area.   Differences explored will include aptitude, gender, personality, first language, culture, styles, strategies and motivation.

Listening and reading processes in language learning. Outcomes: students will develop an understanding of the mechanisms and processes involved in reading and listening to a second or foreign language; of how these modes of accessing meaning are similar, and how they are different; of the characteristics of a selection of genres of academic writing and speech that affect second language learners’ access to them; and of how language teachers can facilitate learners’ abilities to listen to and read languages.  Understanding of needs analysis based on informed analysis of spoken and written texts within the student’s context, and skill in the implementation of needs analysis, will be developed within the context of curriculum and materials design for reading and listening.

Developing second language speaking and writing. Outcomes: students will develop an understanding of the mechanisms and processes involved in speaking and writing in a second or foreign language; of how these modes of expression are similar, and how they are different; of the relationship between fluency, complexity and accuracy; of the characteristics of a selection of genres of academic speech and writing; and of how language teachers can facilitate learners’ abilities to speak and write in their learned language, with focus both on needs analysis for curriculum design, based on informed analysis of spoken and written texts within the student’s context,  and on development of materials at lesson and unit level.

Research Methods (Formatively assessed online module). Research methods will be explored in an embedded fashion through analysis of the research methods used in the research literature and through tasks that are set in relation to that literature.  This formatively assessed module will supplement that learning.  It will explore in more depth the range of experimental designs and methodologies for data collection and analysis used in applied linguistics research.  Students will also acquire practical experience of using software for data analysis.  Research groups of students may be formed to undertake a very small research project, which may be formatively assessed.

Overview of assessment methods

Except for the formative modules (induction and research methods), all modules are assessed via an end-of-term written assignment of 2,500 words. The take-home examination will be marked according to the University’s usual marking scheme and will assess the student’s ability to discuss the issues in language teaching and learning covered in the module, using appropriate metalanguage; to analyse and critique classroom practice; to analyse and critique research articles both for their content and for the research methods therein; to make links between theory and practice; to solve problems; and to draw implications for teaching in their own context. The dissertation is 15,000-20,000 words

Examples of dissertation topics

  • Lecturers’ Use of Formulaic Sequences during English Medium Course Instruction at an Italian University
  • Attitudes towards English as a Lingua Franca: A Systematic Review 2006-2016
  • The Intelligibility of Korean English Pronunciation from a Lingua Franca Perspective
  • Examining English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teachers’ Experiences and Self-Efficacy Surrounding the Integration of Web 2.0 Technologies at Thai Universities
  • Second Language Writing Strategies: A systematic review


There are no internal course specific scholarships available for this course. However, you may wish to consult your eligibility for university-wide scholarships.

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided. A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


What qualifications do I need to apply?

For more specific details of our admission criteria please visit the following course page – MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching

How many students do you recruit to the programme?

10 places are available on this course.

Can I study online or through distance learning?

It is not possible to study at a distance or on-line on our MSc or DPhil programmes.  However, our MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching is a distance learning course specifically for experienced teachers of English language.  Please see the specific course page for more information.

What are the backgrounds of students recruited to your programmes?

The department offers a very wide range of courses. As well as a comprehensive Doctoral programme attracting students from all over the world, we offer full-time one year MSc in Education and in MSc Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (ALSLA) courses, as well as a range of part-time courses, some aimed primarily at UK teachers (e.g. MSc Learning & Teaching, MS Teacher Education) and some at distance learning (e.g., Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching). Consequently our courses cater to students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

For example in 2016/17, the department had a total complement of 582 students of whom 366 were studying full-time and 216 were studying part-time. For 2018/19, across the MSc Education, MSc ALSLA, and DPhil programmes, approximately 33% of our students came from the UK or EU, and the remaining 67% from overseas. The cohort from those programmes included students from Ghana, Japan, Germany, India, Malaysia, China, Mexico, Estonia, Australia, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, among many others.

What our students share is exceptional academic achievement in their previous learning and an ambition to excel academically.

How much will it cost to study and live in Oxford?

To find out how much it will cost to undertake your studies at the University, please visit the Fees and Living Costs webpage for details.

Can I apply for more than one course?

We would strongly encourage you to focus your application on the course for which you have the most interest and experience.

Can I apply for your courses if I am in the process of achieving my qualification to gain entry onto the programme?

Yes, you may apply for any of our courses whilst studying for another degree. If you are successful in achieving a place on one of our programmes, we would make a conditional offer which would include the condition of you achieving your qualification. You are required to submit an interim transcript at application. However, your final outcome would need to be available prior to you commencing the course at Oxford.

Can someone check my research proposal before I submit an application?

If you wish to check whether your proposed area of research might fit into the interests of current members of staff or the department’s research centres you should contact the Higher Degrees Office and we will direct your query to the Admissions Tutor.

English is not my first language; which higher level language qualification is acceptable? And what score do you require?

If you do not have English as your first language, we would like you to have achieved the higher level competence in English Language proficiency i.e. IELTS 7.5 overall with at least 7.0 in each component, or TOEFL 110 (Internet-based).

We do not accept tests which are more than 2 years old. We encourage applicants to apply with a successful IELTS test. If evidence that you successfully meet the English language condition cannot be provided with your application, the language requirement will be set as a condition if an offer is made.

Further information can be found by visiting the Application Guide.

Can I apply for a waiver of proof of proficiency in English?

For information on applying for a waiver of the English test requirement please visit the Application Guide.

Should I declare a college preference in my application?

For guidance about colleges and making an open application, please visit the relevant page.

How do I apply?

For information about applying to our MSc courses please see the specific course page.

For a more detailed explanation of the process, please click here for the application guide.

Your website shows 3 application deadlines. Which one applies to the programme I am applying to?

The University has 3 application deadlines for all programmes. All 3 application deadlines are used but early application is advised as a number of courses may become full before the later deadlines.  Applicants who wish to be considered for a Clarendon Scholarship or an ESRC studentship MUST apply by the January deadline.

Not all of my qualifications will fit on the application form, what shall I do?

If you require more space on the application form, please contact Graduate Admissions for advice.

What should I do if there is not enough space on the application form?

Please contact Graduate Admissions for advice.

I have been outside of an academic setting for some time now; who shall I have to act as my referees?

We strongly recommend that you have at least one reference from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer as well as an academic referee who is able to comment on academic capability/suitability for Higher Degree study.

What do I need to include in my ‘Personal Statement’ (‘Statement of Purpose’)?

Your ‘Statement of Purpose’ should be between 1-2 pages in length, written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific components of the course that interest you. This will be assessed for:

  • The reasons why you are applying to this particular programme of study
  • The areas of study in the subject which interest you
  • Relevant academic, research, or practical experience
  • What you want to achieve from the programme you are applying for
  • Your future aspirations i.e. where you will take what you have learnt from the programme
  • A brief statement of the research project that you hope to undertake (if you have ideas about this)

What do I need to include for the samples of written work?

The written work should be related to the DPhil in Education and should be on separate topics. If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, you may wish to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.

You may submit written work previously completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant, eg an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets the requirements. If your work is significantly longer than the guide length it should be edited to meet the requirements.

A list of relevant references is required for your written work and should be included in your word count.
This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, and proficiency in academic English.

Am I required to attend for interview?

Yes. If you live in the UK you will normally be invited to an in-person interview here at the Department. If you live in another country we will arrange an interview by telephone or by Skype. You will be given advance notice of your interview date and time and we require confirmation of attendance. We are sorry that we cannot currently reimburse you for any travel expenses.

What will the interview be like?

We are keen to find out more about you and your interests, and how these might tie in with the research specialisms of academic staff within the department.

For DPhil applicants, we will ask you to talk in detail about your research proposal, its design, your methodological choices and potential challenges you might face. For MSc applicants, we will ask you about your knowledge of the course, your reasons for wanting to study in this area, and initial ideas for their dissertation research.

Applicants may be asked to explain how their areas of interest link to those of the departments’ research groups, centres and academic staff.

When will the outcome of my application be known?

Applications will be considered by the admissions panel within the Department and decisions will be made in accordance with the following deadlines:

Application deadline Decision deadline
  November deadline  12 January 2018
  January deadline  16 March 2018
  March deadline  27 April 2018

You will be informed of our decision by email to ensure that you receive the outcome as soon as possible.

In the event that we are not able to offer you a place, we regret that it is not possible to provide you with feedback on your application.

Can I defer entry to a course?

The University will only consider requests for deferral of entry due to exceptional unforeseen circumstances, and only after all conditions set for the offer (both academic and financial) have been met.

What if I have already completed research training as part of a Masters degree?

All PRS students no matter what their previous training are required to undertake the Research Training Seminar course. This is the seminar specifically for PRS students, preparing you for the Oxford DPhil structure, creating a supportive cohort and enabling you to begin professional development for an academic or non-academic career. Other research training courses are: Beginners and Intermediate Quantitative Methods; Perspectives and Debates in Qualitative Research and Philosophy of Educational Research. The exact courses you will be required to take will depend on your previous training and experience, and the decision will be based on the evidence you provide in your application and in discussion with the Director of Doctoral Research on matriculation.



Couldn’t find your answers under our FAQ section?

Please direct any queries or questions you may have about this course to our Professional Programmes Office and a member of the administrative team will be happy to assist you.

Email: higherdegreesoffice@education.ox.ac.uk