Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: English Language Centre


Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to Q3K207


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • at the end of this module students will:
  • engage in an in-depth library based or empirical study of a particular area of language teaching and learning
  • understand the nature of empirical research and enquiry in language teaching and learning
  • understand key research methods relevant to empirical study in teaching and learning and develop the capacity to apply these methods
  • demonstrate self-direction and independence in research
  • apply logic and rationality in the research context
  • develop an in-depth critical appreciation of a particular area of language teaching and learning
  • know and apply academic conventions as required in the field of applied language studies (eg citation, formatting, style)


  • the dissertation provides the opportunity to engage in in-depth research in an area of language description, language pedagogy, language acquisition or some area related to language studies according to the student's interest
  • the research may be empirical or library-based, and the module will incorporate core methodological background to support this research as well as presenting the skills necessary for producing successful dissertation research
  • the dissertation research will build upon concepts covered in one or more of the modules taken on the MA course and will emphasise the importance of theoretical underpinnings and empirical evidence in language teaching and learning

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • in-depth understanding of concepts in current applied language studies
  • understanding of current approaches to applied language studies from a historical perspective
  • understanding relevant theoretical issues in language studies and how they relate to the teaching/learning environment
  • understanding the role of research in supporting pedagogical practice
Subject-specific Skills:
  • mastery of the analytical skills used in current language studies research
  • ability to analyse language data and experimental results
Key Skills:
  • ability to read, understand and critically appraise primary texts
  • ability to synthesise a body of literature to support a coherent argument
  • ability to use appropriate academic conventions in writing
  • ability to design and implement experimental studies

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • the student will be given a personal supervisor and receive individual support for the dissertation writing process. In addition, the Centre will hold research training seminars throughout the year to teach academic conventions such as proper citation and to give guidance in the research and study skills (e.g. using databases, effective note-taking, etc.) required in carrying out an extended piece of research
  • research methods training is an integral part of this module and students will be given a weekly session throughout one term on these skills
  • the supervisor will ensure that the student is doing the appropriate research and necessary reading to write a dissertation that reflects a command of relevant theoretical background and an ability to apply this knowledge to actual or envisaged teaching practice. The student will demonstrate an ability to research and organise complex material to sustain a logical argument. These arguments will be supported by a clarity of style and purpose that follows the expected conventions of academic writing

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 weekly 2 hours 20
Tutorials 4 in third term 4-6 hours approx in total 6
Preparation and Reading 574
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
dissertation 15,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

As part of the research methods training, students will be required to design a research tool such as a questionnaire, interview protocol or classroom observation scheme, in order to support a specific research investigation. The research tool will need to be accompanied by a rationale (500 words) justifying the design of the research tool in terms of theory and practice. Dissertation Outline and Bibliography.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University