Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Distance Learning MA - University of Sunderland

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Distance Learning MA

Course overview

This distance learning course will enable you to gain a University of Sunderland qualification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from anywhere in the world.

Teachers with a qualification in TESOL are in great demand because of the value of English language skills. English is the top language of the internet and the world’s third most widely spoken language, so our course can open up new opportunities for you around the world.

Unlike some other TESOL courses, Sunderland’s course not only covers theoretical aspects but also includes a practical teaching module. You will find an institution in your own country where you will teach a lesson, record it and submit the video recording for assessment.

The course includes core modules in ‘Principles and Practice of English Language Teaching’ and ‘Linguistics for TESOL’. There are also optional modules with a strong practical element such as 'Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching’. The final phase of the course is a Masters dissertation whose topic will reflect your personal interest in an area of TESOL.

This TESOL course lasts 18 months, and the distance learning method makes it easier for you to fit your studies around work, family and other commitments.

Claire Rushworth talks about the inspiration and motivation she received from her lecturer:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

You will study four core modules

  • The Principles of Practice of English Language Teaching (20 Credits)
  • Linguistics for TESOL (20 Credits)
  • L2 Practical Teaching (20 Credits)
  • Research Methods in Language Learning and Teaching (20 Credits)

You will also study two of the following optional modules

  • Theories of Second/Foreign Language Learning (20 Credits)
  • Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching (20 Credits)
  • Language, Culture and Power (20 Credits)

Plus the compulsory dissertation

  • Dissertation of up to 15,000 words on a TESOL-related topic of your choice (60 Credits)

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of methods for supporting your learning as an off-campus student. You will have online access to all the required materials and tutorial support will be given via online discussion groups, email and telephone calls.

Assessment methods include written assignments, one teaching observation and one teaching practice session, written presentations and the dissertation.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

This course can be studied anywhere in the world that has internet access. The course is delivered by the University of Sunderland's Virtual Learning Environment using learning packs, e-books, e-journals, relevant websites and multimedia.

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold at least a second class honours degree (usually a 2:1) or equivalent.

You should also have excellent English language skills.

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with no less than 5.5 in any element.

Additional Requirements

For the practical teaching module you will need access to a language school or other institution where you can arrange for one taught lesson to be video recorded for assessment purposes.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

If you hold any of the following ELT qualifications, please ensure you include a copy of your certificate with your application:

  • Trinity CertTESOL
  • Trinity DipTESOL

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The fee for the full programme is £6,250 +£345 for books, for students from the UK, EU and international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

On completing this course you will be equipped with professional skills in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. You will also have an appropriate skill set for senior roles such as leading a department and managing change in education.  

Potential roles include:

  • Teacher
  • Head of Department
  • Educational Adviser
  • Inspector
  • Researcher into English language teaching

A Masters degree will also prepare you for further postgraduate studies and enhance career opportunities within Higher Education.


Our academic staff will guide you through the course and ensure that you are working at that expected pace, which is agreed between you and your tutors. Within the distance learning format, you will have access to your tutors as well as a range of online support functions such as discussion forums and course-relevant information.

Anuradha Singh – studying on the MA TESOL distance learning course says “I am really enjoying studying this programme. Initially I was hesitant about doing the Distance Learning programme, but it is a really good learning environment that has been created.”

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

Our library teams offer specific support for off-campus students. This includes online tutorials, downloadable guides and a Distance Learning Library blog.

We encourage you to make full use of the online resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

"In fact, within months of graduating, I landed a great language teaching job in the Middle East."

CS - Mark Griffiths - MA TESOL (DL) 625

Mark Griffiths - Graduate MA TESOL DL

Teaching in the Middle East

"Often in life I've found that I've made a wrong decision, however, having completed the distance-learning MA in TESOL at Sunderland University I’m certain that this was a right decision – for once. Not only did I learn a great deal about language teaching, academic writing and the English language itself, but I found that my job prospects had really ‘jumped’ to a new level! In fact, within months of graduating, I landed a great language teaching job in the Middle East. So, personally speaking, the time, the money and the effort that this course requires, it really is a great investment!

"On the course itself, I must say that the course leaders, tutors and librarian staff were really helpful and down-to-earth people, which certainly helped to relieve the stress that courses of this level can often throw at you.

"At first, I was concerned about the distance-learning aspect of the MA, but looking back, I’d say that this gave me the time to think ideas through at my own pace rather than on-the-spot, which a classroom situation often requires.

"Also, the online chat rooms and group forums that the course used to share thoughts and knowledge among students were a great way to learn, and dead helpful simply because the ‘conversations’ were always there to refer back to during the assignment writing stage if I ever got writer’s block!

"Finally, if you want to invest in your future and you’re willing to put the hard work in and share your present teaching knowledge with others, don’t hesitate as it’s a first-rate course."

"I chose the MA TESOL programme in the first instance to further my career, but the sense of achievement has been enormous."

Ian Smith - MA TESOL (DL) 625

Ian Smith MA TESOL (Distance Learning) Graduate

"Teaching in the oil industry in Libya."

“I chose the University of Sunderland to complete my MA TESOL (distance learning) course, because it was where both my daughter and I studied TESOL at undergraduate level on the BA Hons Combined Subjects Programme. I already knew several of the teachers running the course and got on with them very well.

“My advice to potential students would be to enjoy the whole experience. I entered higher education late in life and had an older head on my shoulders, so my outlook was maybe slightly different. I chose the MA TESOL programme in the first instance to further my career, but the sense of achievement has been enormous. Just make sure you embrace it and don't waste the opportunities that are available.

“I already have a very good job teaching in the oil industry in Libya, but I believe the MA course will help me to apply for better job positions in the future.”

Jill Ford, Lisa Clifford-Cosgrove, Philip Graham TESOL (DL)

Jill Ford, Lisa Clifford-Cosgrove, Philip Graham

Graduates - MA TESOL (DL)

Jill Ford (far left)

"A fabulous, first-class experience. I'm sorry I waited so long to do it!"

 Lisa Clifford-Cosgrove (middle)

“The MA TESOL (DL) full-time course was in itself an entirely rewarding experience. The course staff and assigned tutors were highly involved, supportive and available throughout.”

 Philip Graham (far right)

"I learned a great deal from this course, and it has significantly improved my career opportunities."

"I think the programme is exceptional in content, choice, guidance and support."

Jill E Ford - MA TESOL DL CID625

Jill E Ford

Graduate - MA TESOL(DL)

"In exploring the options available for a DL Masters Programme, I wanted to be able to select subject areas that satisfied my interests as well as enhance my teaching skills.

"The University of Sunderland and the MA TESOL gave me that opportunity. Any anxiety I may have had about completing a Distance Learning course, especially as a mature student, rapidly disappeared due to the encouragement and support of the fabulous staff!

"For anyone not sure if they are ready to take the plunge, I'd suggest that... it must be important to you, personally, and that the highs and lows are a normal part of the creative and academic journey.

"Find a way to manage your time that works for you, and when you don't feel like doing it, think of another activity you could/should be doing that you really don't enjoy!

"Break up the study period with small treats! Don't worry about it, just get on with it, the time goes quickly! Remember the big picture, and the greater freedom your Masters will give you!"

Apply for this course

To apply for this course, please click on the apply now link below.

Please note - If you have successfully completed a DELTA or Trinity Dip TESOL qualification, you may be eligible for a January start date rather than waiting until October. Please email fes.tnecentre@sunderland.ac.uk and request an application form.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

Programme Leader:
Kim Willis

Contact the recruitment team for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Recruitment Team
Telephone: 0191 515 3000 
Email: student.helpline@sunderland.ac.uk

Programme Starts  
Monday 2nd October 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Distance Learning
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time/Part-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 18 months
Study Location Distance Learning
Starting 2 October 2017
UK/EU Fee £Tbc
Intl Fee £Tbc

Entry requirements

The University of Sunderland's typical offer will be an honours degree in a relevant subject

Related courses

If Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Distance Learning MA isn't right for you, try these courses instead:

Search for something different?