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Doctor of Professional Practice in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DProf TESOL) – Distance Learning January 2022 entry

The Doctor of Professional Practice (DProf) in TESOL programme is designed for educational practitioners who wish to conduct practice-focused research within their professional context. This is a part-time, distance-learning programme at PhD level for experienced professionals who are seeking to effect positive change within educational organisations.

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Key information

Course type

Postgraduate professional doctorate, leading to a Doctor of Professional Practice (DProf) award

Course dates

  • Start date: 13 January 2022

Course duration

Six years, part-time (direct entry into year 2, allowing completion in five years, is possible)

Entry requirements

  • Good performance on a postgraduate degree in TESOL (e.g. MSc/MA/MEd) or a related subject (e.g. education, educational research). The Institute also considers applicants who do not have a Master’s degree, but can evidence significant professional experience combined with alternative qualifications at postgraduate level.
  • Evidence of relevant professional experience, as presented in application documents.
  • English language proficiency. See English language requirements for postgraduate students. Applicants who need to provide an English test score should refer to Profile 7-D for details of acceptable tests and scores.

You do not need to provide a full research proposal to apply for this programme. The initial stage of the DProf TESOL will guide you through developing a proposal.

This is a 6-year programme, which allows for entry into either year 1 or year 2. Entry to year 2 of the programme will be considered for applicants who have 60 credits of recognised prior learning (RPL). RPL will be awarded in cases where applicants have completed modules that are substantially similar to those offered on the DProf TESOL programme. Applications for RPL are considered on a case by case basis in line with the University's recognition of prior learning policy. To confirm the exact amount of credit you could be awarded, please forward relevant transcripts to

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. If you require further information about entrance requirements for this programme, please contact

Tuition fees

Home and overseas: Students will pay an annual fee for the duration of their study (either 5 or 6 years). This fee will be £4,950 for the first year of study, and any increase in fees will be capped at a maximum of 5% per year. The fee is the same for both home and overseas students.

Application deadline

Early January 2022

Application requirements

  • CV, this should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment (paid or voluntary) to date, as well as any publications or conference presentations delivered
  • a personal statement (500-1000 words) that describes: your professional context; your reasons for applying to the programme; possible areas of focus for your research (with an explanation of why these are relevant to your professional context)
  • two references (at least one of which must be academic)
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language). If you have not yet taken an English language test, this can be submitted at a later date. Any offer of a place would then be conditional on attaining evidence of your English language competence.

Programme information

The Doctor of Professional Practice (DProf) in TESOL programme is designed for educational practitioners who wish to conduct practice-focused research within their professional context. This is a part-time, distance-learning programme at PhD level for experienced professionals who aspire to, or are already working in, leadership roles within educational organisations, or who wish to advance their classroom practice through research.

During your studies on the programme, you will develop research skills through taught modules, and by producing a portfolio of scholarly work such as journal articles, edited book chapters, and policy documents. This portfolio will contribute to the enhancement of practice within your educational community, while also developing your professional profile.


  • A flexible distance-learning structure that allows you to engage in study alongside professional and personal commitments
  • The ability to complete doctoral research focused specifically on TESOL
  • A focus on practice-based research that benefits your professional context
  • The gradual development of a portfolio of scholarly work, which will enhance your professional profile during the programme
  • Support in applying for professional recognition, where appropriate (e.g. HEA/BALEAP fellowships)
  • The opportunity to engage with professional development opportunities within the International Education Institute and the wider University.

Programme structure

The DProf TESOL has two main components, making up a total of 540 credits for the programme:

  • Supplementary studies (120 credits; recognition of prior learning (RPL) may be awarded for up to 60 of these credits)
  • A portfolio that consists of professional projects (360 credits) and an integrative critical analysis (60 credits)

Supplementary studies

You will take taught modules at Master’s level over the initial 4 semesters of the programme (or 3 semesters, for students who enter into year 2). The modules are delivered in a variety of ways such as:

  • recorded lectures 
  • recorded mini-lectures 
  • podcasts 
  • online written forums with students resident in other parts of the world
  • intensive feedback sessions on your work.

In these modules, you will integrate theory and practice by discussing and critiquing theoretical concepts and frameworks, and then applying them through a range of practical assessments. Assessments include:

  • a variety of different types of written assignments 
  • presentations 
  • development of teaching plans 
  • material development
  • assessed online written forums. 

Two of the compulsory modules you will take are only offered to DProf TESOL students, and are designed to help you:

  • acquire the skills you need to succeed as a doctoral practitioner
  • formulate a proposal for the “professional projects” component of the programme.

You will need to submit a proposal for your professional projects work and undertake a progress review at the end of the supplementary studies component of the programme. Passing this progress review will allow you to move on to the professional projects component.

Portfolio (professional projects)

This part of the portfolio will total 35,000-40,000 words, and will normally include the following:

  • 3-4 journal articles/edited book chapters
  • a policy document/policy critique (e.g. school or national policies, or a current assessment paper) or 1-2 articles in practitioner journals.

At least one of the journal articles submitted for assessment should be in a peer-reviewed international or national journal, and published before completion of the programme (‘online first’ is acceptable). A submission might, for example, include one conference paper, one book chapter, one journal paper, and a policy paper. 

Portfolio (integrative critical analysis)

This part of the portfolio will provide a reflective synthesis of all elements of the programme, and will explain the contribution you have made to professional practice in your chosen area. This part of the portfolio will total 12,500-15,000 words, and will normally include the following:

  • Description of the academic and intellectual context for your professional projects
  • A synthesis of your publications to demonstrate a coherent theme
  • Critical reflection on your professional development during the programme
  • Explanation of professional impact and contributions to knowledge resulting from your research.

Assessment for the award of Doctor of Professional Practice (DProf)

As with a PhD, your work will be evaluated for a doctoral award through a viva voce examination. If, following any revisions and/or resubmission after your viva, your work does not meet the requirements for the award of Doctor of Professional Practice, it will be considered for the award of either Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip).

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.

Supplementary studies modules

The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue.

If you are a year 1 entry student, you will take all four modules from the following list.

If you are a year 2 entry student who has completed an MSc TESOL qualification at the University of St Andrews, you will take the two modules from the following list that did not form part of your MSc TESOL studies.

If you are a year 2 entry student who has not completed an MSc TESOL qualification at the University of St Andrews, you will take all four modules from the following list.

  • Being a doctoral practitioner: provides you with an overview of expectations for students on the DProf programme, and for professional doctorates in general. Through the module, you will analyse the skills and foundational knowledge needed to complete your studies (e.g. methodologies for conducting classroom-based research; understandings of researcher-practitioner identity), and work towards developing a personal toolkit of skills and knowledge for success as a doctoral practitioner. You will also consider in detail key concepts relevant to the programme, such as reflective practice, explorative practice, and appreciative inquiry.

  • Planning for professional projects: provides support in planning out a full proposal for the professional projects component of your portfolio, as well as mapping out a timeline for successful completion of all aspects of the DProf programme. You will consider what the different outputs that make up your professional projects should be, and how these will form a thematically coherent body of research. You will also reflect on likely challenges you will face during the programme and how you will address these.

  • Action Research for Teachers: provides a learning experience in which you can reflect on concepts and theories you are studying in other modules and connect them with classroom practice. The module explores the combined value of reflection and action research for classroom practitioners, providing a means for language teachers to understand their classroom contexts and to plan responses to challenges in these contexts.

  • Teaching and Researching: teachers are increasingly expected to be evidence-informed or even evidence-led; consuming, creating, and sharing research. This module addresses how we evaluate the quality of research to decide what is rigorous and informative for our practice, how we can build on existing research when planning our own interventions, and how to design, pilot and reflect on the effectiveness of different data collection instruments. We consider a range of research contexts and values to help you actively engage with pedagogical research.

If you are a year 1 entry student, you will take four modules from the following list (subject to timetabling constraints).

If you are a year 2 entry student who has completed an MSc TESOL qualification at the University of St Andrews, you will take the two modules from the following list that did not form part of your MSc TESOL studies.

If you are a year 2 entry student who has not completed an MSc TESOL qualification at University of St Andrews, you will not take any of the modules below.

  • Assessment and Evaluation: brings together the study of language testing with the theory and practice of assessment in pedagogy. You will learn key concepts in both, how to design and improve tests for different purposes, and how to make productive use of assessment within teaching. We also consider some of the broader social impacts of assessment and testing and how teachers navigate tensions when promoting student learning within a measurement culture. The module also acts as an example of learning through assessment, giving you opportunities to reflect on how different approaches such as mastery learning or active learning are reflected in assessment design, as well as critiquing aspects of assessment such as the use of time limits, group tasks, multiple-choice questions, and gamification.

  • English Medium Instruction: In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the teaching of academic subjects through English in countries where the majority of the population do not use English as a first language. This module explores this global trend from the standpoint of content and language teachers, as well as students. It considers the wide variety of English medium instruction contexts, evaluating theory in the fields of teaching and learning, language acquisition and intercultural communication in an attempt to address some of the practical challenges involved.

  • English for Academic Purposes: preparing and supporting students who come to study for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees through the medium of English is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs in the field of language teaching. To do this well, an EAP teacher needs to understand the higher education context; the key principles underpinning learning in a university; text and discourse in the communities of the different disciplines, theories and practice of assessment; and the most effective methods and materials to motivate students and help them into a discourse community. 

  • Teaching Young Learnersexplores theories of child development and learning which are fundamental to the understanding of child second language acquisition, namely children aged 4 to 7, 8 to 11, and 12 to 18. Child psychology has to be taken into account in the development of teaching materials, teaching styles and classroom management. There is also a practical element to the module, in the form of tasks requiring you to create lesson plans and materials to share with your peers, to apply theory to practice.

  • Technology for Teaching: introduces you to the principle theories, concepts and practices of technology in language education. You will be able to critically consider the role and purpose of various modes of technology in education in a wide range of settings to identify and conceptualise problems within your own professional contexts.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2022 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Meet us

Postgraduate virtual visiting days

We hold virtual visiting days throughout the year to offer prospective postgraduate students a chance to experience the University's unique atmosphere and see for themselves the quality of the teaching on offer. 

Virtual visiting days

TESOL virtual information sessions

If you are unable to visit St Andrews before you apply, the International Education Institute offers virtual information sessions to discuss the programmes.

TESOL virtual events

Areas of research and scholarship

More details about the work of the International Education Institute can be found on the IE website. You will typically work under the supervision of current academic staff from the Institute, but in some cases additional supervisors will be employed externally.

Particular areas of research and scholarship focus for the International Education Institute include:

  • Academic integrity
  • Assessment and feedback; peer assessment
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP)
  • Initial teacher education
  • Intercultural competence
  • International student experience
  • Mobile/Computer Assisted Language Learning
  • Professional development in TESOL
  • Qualitative research synthesis
  • Vocabulary acquisition and testing
  • World Englishes, English as an International Language, and English as a Lingua Franca.

Awards and prizes

Members of TESOL staff and previous students have been awarded various awards and prizes including the following:

McCall MacBain Foundation Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence Awards 2020

In 2020, the International Educational Institute was the recipient of two McCall MacBain Foundation Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence Awards:

  • Mark Carver was awarded for his work on assessment and feedback scholarship. 
  • Janie Brooks and Kerith George Briant were awarded for a presentation entitled 'Developing Effective Online Engagement in the Context of Internationalisation' delivered at the British Council International Education Conference in 2019. 

University of St Andrews Teaching Excellence Awards 

  • Kerry Tavakoli was awarded one of four annual Teaching Excellence Awards in 2018. Kerry was recognised for the positive impact her work has had on students through her teaching.

British Council ELT Masters Dissertation Award 


Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships


DProf TESOL graduates are equipped with a range of skills and experiences which allow them to take on a variety of leadership roles within educational organisations. The programme is designed to facilitate the professional development of TESOL practitioners, or professionals in related fields, and to enable career progression.

Lecturers within the International Education Institute have a wealth of both teaching and leadership experience in TESOL, in a range of locations globally. They are active in using their international networks and experience to support and advise students on future career development. Current teaching staff in the Institute have taught or held educational leadership roles in China, Finland, Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam.

The University Careers Centre also offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and provides a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.


International Education Institute
University of St Andrews
Kennedy Gardens
St Andrews
KY16 9DJ

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2255

International Education Institute


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online.

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online.

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