MA TESOL / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Developing Researcher Competence

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70102
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit provides participants with a supported, small-scale experience through which their researcher competence can develop. The experience involves the planning, designing, implementing, and presentation of a small-scale empirical research study (Pilot Study), the topic for which is often linked to their later Dissertation and, for those participants on pathways, also linked to their specialism.


The course unit aims to: 

  • provide an opportunity for participants to carry out their own small-scale, empirical research study; 
  • introduce the principles and practices associated with a variety of research approaches, methods, and techniques as relevant for TESOL and education-related research; 
  • inculcate an ethical ethos for research and an understanding of ethical compliance systems;   
  • introduce the principles and practices associated with data analysis and interpretation; 
  • encourage critical reflection on the process of planning, designing, implementing, and presentation of education-related research; 
  • reflect critically on the appropriacy of particular approaches, methods, and techniques for their own specific research activities; and 
  • encourage critical reflection on the process through which the researcher develops their competence in education-related research.

Teaching and learning methods

This course unit involves lecture-type input, interactive tasks, guided reading, case studies, participant-led discussions, interactive presentations, hands-on sessions with various technological resources, and tutor-supported academic writing and research experiences.  

Knowledge and understanding

  • undertake (i.e. plan, design, implement, evaluate, and present) a small-scale Pilot Study, thereby demonstrating: a) an understanding of the research methods literature, and b) an understanding of the research process (assessed mainly in Assignment: Part 2); 
  • evaluate the appropriacy of particular approaches, methods, and techniques for data generation and analysis for their chosen area of research as channelled through the small-scale Pilot Study (assessed mainly in Assignment: Part 2); 
  • critically reflect on the process of carrying out research and on the development of their own researcher competence (assessed mainly in Assignment: Part 1). 

Intellectual skills

  • demonstrate a critical approach to understanding research as operationalised in TESOL; 
  • critically respond to concerns/puzzles in their own professional contexts; 
  • transparently report on a small-scale Pilot Study DRC; and 
  • provide a rationale for the design and operationalisation of their small-scale Pilot Study.  

Practical skills

  • conduct empirical research with confide.nce and competence appropriate for MA-level studies; 
  • use ICT to support relevant academic and researcher activities; and 
  • present their research in spoken word and written formats 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of this course unit, participants should have developed: 

  • personal strategies to rganize and manage their research effectively; 
  • enhanced academic and digital literacies including academic presentation, information processing (on- and off-line) and online networking; 
  • enhanced skills in interpersonal and intercultural communication; 
  • an appreciation of the value of reflection in professional practice; 
  • an appreciation of the value and requirements of ethical considerations in research; and 
  • autonomy and enhanced meta-cognitive strategies with regard to study skills and further professional development. 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Report 75%

Part 1: Critical Reflection on the DRC Experience 

2000 words 


Part 2: Research Report 

4,500 words (excl. any appendices)  


Feedback methods

Feedback will be available online via Blackboard.

Recommended reading

Participants are strongly advised to purchase or obtain reliable and full library access to these books.

Cohen, L., L. Manion & K. Morrison (2000). Research Methods in Education (5th ed.). London: Routledge Falmer. (Later editions would be fine as well).

Richards, K. (2003). Qualitative Inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

McDonough, J. & S. McDonough (1997). Research Methods for English Language Teachers. London: Arnold.

The following books provide additional general introductions, and may, therefore, be of use:

Allwright, D. & K. Bailey (1991). Focus on the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beaumont, M. & T. A. O’Brien (Eds.)(2000). Collaborative Research in Second Language Education. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

Bell, J. (1987). Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First Time Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Brown, J. D. (1988). Understanding Research in Second language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holliday, A.R. (2001). Doing and Writing Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

Nunan, D. (1992). Research Methods in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wallace, M. (1998). Action Research for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Participants with a particular interest in researching on-line communication should purchase or obtain reliable and full library access to this book.

Mann, C. & F. Stewart (2000). Internet Communication and Qualitative Research: A Handbook for Researching Online. London: Sage.

Finally, the following article provides a useful introduction to the challenges you may face as a teacher engaging with the ‘world of research’:

Reis-Jorge, J. (2007). Teachers’ conceptualisations of teacher-research and self-perception as enquiring practitioners – a longitudinal case study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23: 402-417.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 40
Tutorials 8
Work based learning 60
Independent study hours
Independent study 192

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Fay Unit coordinator
Paul Smith Unit coordinator
Nahielly Beatriz Palacios Gonzalez Unit coordinator

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