MSc Research Methods with Education

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Beyond Approaches, Methods and Techniques

Unit code EDUC70021
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Education
Available as a free choice unit? No


Methodology is central to the discussion of classroom practices in language teaching. With particular reference to the teaching and learning of English, this course unit will examine the theoretical origins and pedagogic influence of various approaches to language teaching (eg structural, communicative, humanistic, task-based), the development of defined methods that relate to these approaches, and also the wide range of techniques, traditional and more contemporary, that are currently at the disposal of informed language teachers. It will consider how the concept of “appropriate methodology” might help teachers develop approaches to teaching that are context-sensitive, but at the same time consistent with current research and thinking.

The course unit will suggest that, beyond approaches, methods and techniques, lies an approach to pedagogy that depends on the teacher’s own continuing exploration of his/her teaching context and consequent professional development.  This “reflective practitioner” trajectory will be pursued across the teaching of the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), through what it might mean to take an integrated approach to the teaching of these skills, and will incorporate discussion of the teaching of pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and discourse, either as individual foci or inside a task-based format, as appropriate.

While ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ will remain available as terms, the course unit will emphasize the desirability of working to understand and embody the concept of ‘praxis’ – aware, informed, committed action.


 This unit aims to:

  • explore the individual and societal complexities of teaching and learning languages as they relate to the making of informed and appropriate contributions to language teaching policy and practice in the educational contexts in which participants find themselves;
  • facilitate critical reflection on language education experiences in the light of relevant research in the methodology of teaching languages, and thus encourage the theorisation of such experience;
  • introduce past and current research into language teaching methodology and to relate such research appropriately to particular educational contexts;
  • facilitate participants’ development of their own praxis via small-scale empirical research.

Teaching and learning methods

 The course content mixes seminar-type input, small group work in various formats, case studies, guided reading, participant-led discussions, reflective tasks, workshops, and a variety of demonstration processes.

Learning Hours:


Activity Hours Allocated
Direct Teaching Input 12 x 2 hour sessions = 24
Directed Online Study 34
Independent Study 35
Proposed Tasks, Including Online Exchange/ Collaborative Activity 25
Tutorials 2
Assessment 30
Total Hours 150


Knowledge and understanding

  • understand the state of the art in the literature of the teaching of English generally, more especially in a specific context with which they are familiar, and with particular reference to the pedagogic area on which they decide to focus;
  • understand the undesirability of pursuing “the best method” of teaching languages;
  • understand a more productive approach to pedagogy than one based only on ‘applying’ theory to practice;
  • understand the importance of exploring their own beliefs and praxis through informal empirical research

Intellectual skills


  • use what they have learned to produce improved analyses of language teaching policy and practice in an educational context with which they are familiar;
  • theorise previous and current language learning and teaching experience as the basis for future planning;
  • use concepts learned from informing disciplines as the basis for future planning;
  • engage critically with the literature of the field;
  • represent their own ideas and positions, particularly with regard to their areas of declared interest;
  • dispute the proposed separation of intellectual and practical skills in their work.

Practical skills


  • dispute the proposed separation of intellectual and practical skills in their work;
  • plan for pedagogic action;
  • report on what they have learned;
  • engage with their professional practice with enhanced technical expertise, socio-cultural sensitivity, and increased motivation.

Transferable skills and personal qualities


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

  • enhanced skills in academic 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; and
  • autonomy and enhanced meta-cognitive strategies with regard to study skills and further professional development.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%



Assessment tasks

Word Length or Equivalent

Weighting within unit


Assessment task 1

A reflective account of beliefs and practice in relation to the particular context in which you teach.


This task allows for formative feedback to be provided before the submission of assessment task 2.


1,500 words


Assessment task 2

An analysis of and response to a teaching ‘puzzle’ (eg a goal to be achieved, a problem to be solved, an opportunity to be taken, a need to be met). You must justify your analysis and response with regard to the literature, and you must explain explicitly how these ideas are put into practice.

2,500 words



Feedback methods

Feedback will be available via Blackboard

Recommended reading


Background/ key reading:

Ellis, R. and Shintani, N. 2014. Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second Language Acquisition Research. London: Routledge

Hall, G. 2011. Exploring English Language Teaching.  London: Routledge

Larsen-Freeman, D. 2011. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching Third Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Depending on the interests that participants have or develop, the following texts are also recommended:

Edge, J. & Garton, S. 2009. From Experience to Knowledge in ELT. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R.  2003. Task-based Language Learning and Teaching.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hedge, T. (2000) Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hinkel, E. and Fotos, S. 2001. New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in Second Language Classrooms. Routledge.

Holliday, A. 2005. Appropriate Methodology and Social Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hughes, R. 2011. Teaching and Researching Speaking 2nd Edition. Harlow: Longman.

Hyland, K. 2011. Teaching and Researching: Writing 2nd Edition. Harlow: Longman.

Lightbown, P. and Spada, N. 2013. How Languages are Learned (4thed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rost, M. 2011. Teaching and Researching: Listening 2nd Edition. Harlow: Longman.

Grabe, W. and Stoller, F. 2011. Teaching and Researching: Reading 2nd Edition. Harlow: Longman.

Willis, D. and Willis, J. 2007. Doing Task-Based Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The major journals for this area are ELT Journal, TESOL Quarterly and Applied Linguistics. Articles are recommended on a unit-by-unit basis.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Diane Slaouti Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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