Coronavirus information and guidance

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - distance learning (MSc) January 2022 entry

The TESOL MSc Distance Learning gives students with an interest in this field the opportunity to integrate the theory and practice of teaching English to speakers of other languages with the flexibility to select modules of interest and of benefit to their future career, and interact online with students in St Andrews and around the world.

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Key information

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: January 2022

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

Course duration

Students on the distance learning Master's can generally complete their studies in a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years. Students who might like to complete their MSc faster should contact IE to discuss the matter.

Entry requirements

Applications are welcomed from all education systems. A good 2.1 Honours degree or 3.3/4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) is typically required in any discipline. The School also consider applications from students who can provide significant professional or other relevant experience alongside evidence of prior alternative learning such as professional qualifications or certifications. If you require further information about our academic entrance requirements in relation to the education system you studied in, please contact

If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

Some students may be eligible for recognition of prior learning (RPL) based on their previous studies, such as DELTA. The International Education Institute considers applications for RPL 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 your relevant transcript to

For direct entry to an MSc TESOL programme, you will need an overall score in IELTS (Academic) of 6.5, with a minimum subscore of 6.0 or the equivalent. Students with a lower score may be eligible for a pre-sessional course. For alternative forms of evidence, see English language tests and qualifications.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Tuition fees

UK, EU and overseas: £9,900

Application deadline

Early January 2022. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships.

Application requirements

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The MSc in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Distance Learning is run by the International Education Institute. It is designed to be useful to both experienced English language teachers as well as those considering a career in English language teaching.  


  • The programme allows for flexible part-time study around work or other commitments and also offers the option of completing a one-week residential course in St Andrews focusing on dissertation preparation, to give you the opportunity to be part of the St Andrews community and work on a one-to-one basis with IE staff.
  • In addition to the five compulsory modules, choose three optional modules and a dissertation topic to explore your interests while interacting with our students from a diverse range of nationalities and backgrounds
  • Join experienced practitioners and scholars in the English language teaching community, with opportunities to be involved in ongoing professional development events and the annual English for Academic Purposes (EAP) conference.
  • Discuss theoretical concepts and frameworks in small groups and online written forums with students studying both in St Andrews and by distanced learning around the world, and apply these through a range of practical assessments.
  • Participate in an optional no credit-bearing module in Professional and Academic Literacies to support both your studies and your career development.

Teaching format

You will take a variety of taught modules over the length of the programme.

The modules are delivered in a variety of ways such as:

  • recorded lectures
  • recorded mini-lectures
  • online chatrooms
  • podcasts
  • guided writing
  • webinars
  • 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
  • group work with students resident in other parts of the world. 

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


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 which is for the 2020–2021 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2022 entry.

  • 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.

  • Language Teaching Methodology: explores the theories that inform teaching practice and analyses the implications these have in terms of ways of learning, material used, the teacher role and the classroom. This is essential for all those seeking to understand their teaching environment more clearly and for those who have a chance to influence teaching environments. 

  • Linguistics for Language Teachers: is designed to equip you with the skills required to describe and analyse written discourse. It does not assume prior knowledge of linguistics and seeks to introduce you to selected fundamental concepts, relevant to English language teaching. You acquire appropriate terminology and techniques in the analysis and description of grammatical terms and structures.

  • Second Language Acquisition: focuses on how subsequent languages are learnt after the first language by exploring the development of SLA theory. You will then consider how this theory informs teaching.
  • Teaching and Researching: helps you understand the features of a rigorous research question in the field of TESOL, as well as consider how to design, pilot and reflect on the effectiveness of different data collection instruments. The module also includes guidance and discussion on the different ethical considerations when conducting classroom-based research, as well as the important stages in writing up a dissertation.

You will choose three optional modules from the following list, subject to timetabling restrictions:

  • Assessment and Evaluation: provides students with a detailed understanding of the key concepts behind different methods of testing and evaluation in English language teaching and learning.

  • English Medium Instruction: provides you with an understanding of the controversies of English as an international language for academic study, and the complexity involved in the use of English as a language of instruction from the standpoint of both the academic subject instructors and students who are using English as an L2.
  • 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.

  • Technology for Teaching: introduces you to the principle theories, concepts and practices of technology in language education. You are 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.

Optional modules are subject to change each year, and some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development).

For the dissertation, you will choose a topic of interest to you and to your future career. You will read related literature and conduct independent research on your topic.

Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching team. Supervisors will provide guidance throughout the research process, helping you to formulate a suitable research hypothesis and offering advice on relevant literature and how to plan your time effectively.

The completed dissertation of no more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a specified date in February or August each year, depending on the start date of your dissertation module.  

If you choose not to complete the dissertation required for the award of an MSc, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.

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

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


TESOL graduates are equipped with a range of skills and experiences which allow them to take on a variety of roles. The majority of TESOL students work within education, either as teachers or lecturers, as researchers, or as policymakers. Other graduates work in publishing, journalism and management.

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 have taught or held educational leadership roles in China, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, 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.

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 (PDF, 72 KB).

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 (PDF, 84 KB).

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