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Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Distance Learning (PGDip) January 2022 entry

The TESOL PGDip 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 Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)

Course dates

  • Start date: January 2022
  • End date: January 2024 (if completing within two years)

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

Course duration

Students on the distance learning PGDip can generally complete their studies in a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years. Students who might like to complete their PGDip faster should contact the International Education Institute 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. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the personal statement, and supporting documents.

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Tuition fees

Home and overseas: £6,600

Application deadline

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

Application requirements

  • CV, this should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment (paid or voluntary) to date
  • personal statement, see personal statement guidance for TESOL courses (PDF)
  • two original signed 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.

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

Course information

The PGDip 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 while working, but also provides plenty of opportunities for you to interact with both TESOL students in St Andrews and other distance learning students.
  • Focus your studies in your particular areas of interest through your choice of optional modules, and gain a better theoretical and practical understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing practitioners in the field through studying a range of areas of TESOL. 
  • Join experienced practitioners and scholars in the English language teaching community, with opportunities to be involved (in person or online) in ongoing professional development events and the annual English for Academic Purposes (EAP) conference.
  • Integrate theory and practice – discuss theoretical concepts and frameworks in small groups and in online forums with the students studying both in St Andrews and by distance learning around the world, and apply these through practical assessments.

Teaching format

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

You will typically study two modules each semester, though variation is possible. The first module is taught in Weeks 1 to 5, followed by a one-week break to complete the assessment. A second module is taught in Weeks 7 to 11. The pattern is the same in each semester.

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

  • recorded lectures and 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 apply them through a range of practical assessments. Assessments include:

  • a variety of different types of written assignments
  • presentations
  • development of teaching plans.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including 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 January 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 learning spaces. This is essential for all those seeking to understand teaching environments more clearly and for those who have a chance to influence teaching environments. 

  • Linguistics for Language Teachers: equips you with the skills required to describe and analyse language. 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: how do we learn languages? Does it make any difference what age we start at? Why do some learners seem to do better than others? Answers to these questions, and many more would be very useful to inform language teachers, and to guide learners. This module traces the development of SLA theory, considers language learning from the perspective of learners, their differences and the strategies they can use, and from the perspective of the teacher and SLA researcher in order to apply theory to practice.

  • 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.

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

  • 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 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 Learners: explores 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 order 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.

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University’s position on curriculum development).

Each module is only delivered once in each academic year. The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for January 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 


St Andrews Distance-learning Sanctuary Scholarship for MSc TESOL
This award covers all tuition costs for a distance-learning MSc TESOL programme (including MSc TESOL with a specialism) at the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships

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.


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 Bulgaria, China, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Martinique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, 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. For more information see the Curriculum at St Andrews policy.

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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