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Dr Peter Howell

Programme Director - English
020 8240 4124

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Our Applied Linguistics and ELT Master's programme has been running for 25 years, and has enhanced the careers of hundreds of language professionals who can now be found in high-level teaching, management and research posts in schools and universities across the world.

Why study Applied Linguistics & ELT?

The MA in Applied Linguistics and ELT has helped develop the careers of hundreds of professionals in language teaching, management, publishing and research.

The degree is designed primarily for teachers of English and of other modern languages who are interested in extending their knowledge of language and language teaching.

It provides you with the opportunity to explore developments in applied linguistics and language teaching in the light of their own practical expertise and knowledge.

Why St Mary's?

This is a course with committed lecturers engaging with small groups, usually no more than 10-15 in each year. Compared to many other Master's programmes in the UK this is a very low number and we've deliberately kept it small in order to keep the quality of our teaching high. We know all our students by name and are able to give them a lot of individual attention and support.

We examine not only the subject of teaching, but also the nature of language from diverse theoretical, social and cognitive perspectives. The content is demanding, but support is also strong. The rewards for students are great, both in how they learn to think about language and in their careers.

Key facts

  • Small student groups, usually no more than 10-15 in each year.
  • The content is demanding, but support is also strong.
  • Taught on our historic Strawberry Hill campus.

Course content


  • ELT Syllabus Design and Methodology 
  • ELT Teacher Development and Management 
  • English Language Description 
  • Language Acquisition 
  • Research Methods and Dissertation 
  • Sociolinguistics 
Please refer to the programme specification document for a summary of the programme.

Career opportunities

Our Applied Linguistics and ELT degree can provide opportunities for advancement in language teaching, management, and research. We have successful graduates in senior posts throughout the world.

The Careers Service has more information on graduate careers and part-time work available during your course.

How the degree is taught

Teaching methods

We keep the Applied Linguistics course small in order to maintain quality, so that each student can expect support tailored to his or her own needs.

Small classes facilitate lively discussion and the forging of close and supportive academic relationships between students. Students should feel free to make tutorial appointments with tutors, who are always happy to meet with them. Tutorials are arranged with individual students at times convenient to them.

Assessment methods

There are no exams in this programme. Modules are assessed by an essay of 4,000-5,000 words. The Research Methods module has no assessment; instead, you must produce an 800-word proposal for your dissertation. The dissertation cannot be started without this proposal being accepted.

There are six essays to complete, one for each module, and each worth 20 credits. The dissertation is worth 60 credits. The pass mark is 50%. Marks between 60% and 69% are in the merit category; marks over 70% are in the distinction category.

Modes of study

Full-time students attend three two-hour seminars per week, currently timetabled for Thursdays and Fridays.

In the autumn semester, there is an additional Academic Orientation module that runs for six weeks. In the spring semester there is an additional Research Methods module that runs for ten weeks.

Qualifications available

To qualify for the Master's you will need to be awarded 180 credits. A PGDip will be awarded for the completion of all modules except the dissertation (120 credits) and a PGCert is awarded to those who complete three 20 credit modules.


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Fees and funding

2018/19 fees

2019/20 fees

The UK Government has confirmed that EU applicants for 2019 remain eligible for 'home fee status' and can access financial support.

Alumni discount

A 20% tuition fee discount is available for our alumni (undergraduate and PGCE) planning to study this Master's degree. Those studying for a PGDip of PGCert are not eligible for the discount.


For guidance about financing your studies, including information about government-funded loans, please check out Fees & Funding section.

International Students should check their eligibility for our International Scholarship.

Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme.

Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken For further information about additional costs please contact

Further information

Previous dissertations

The tutors at St Mary's encourage the MA students to choose a dissertation topic relevant to their special interests. They can cover a very wide range of subject areas such as language acquisition, language teaching, sociolinguistics, evaluation, testing and teacher training. 

We have also put together a dissertation guide with further information.

A selection of recent dissertation titles:

  • Implications of English Medium Instruction and English as a Lingua Franca in Higher Education in the Dutch-speaking area of Europe.
  • The relationship between musical ability and foreign language aptitude.
  • Students’ attitudes towards authentic and non-authentic material in the ESP classroom.
  • Identity construction and negotiation in a bilingual school.
  • Comparing second language success and attitudes towards English in the Somali community in London.
  • The ‘Inner Circle’ native-speaker model for English as a foreign language.
  • The provision of English as an Additional Language in the English educational system.
  • Comparing attitudes in Poland towards English and the languages of neighbouring countries.
  • Aptitude and working memory: cognitive profiles.
  • A longitudinal case study of a six-year-old girl with language delay.
  • An examination of the English produced by two bilingual children: code-switching and language interference.
  • An investigation into why so few immigrant children in Germany succeed at school, with particular reference to the Turkish community.
  • Attitudes towards Standard English in education, following the publication of the National Curriculum for England and Wales.
  • The performance of native and non-native speakers on the Cambridge Proficiency Use of English test.
  • Native and non-native speakers in official English environments: a comparative study of attitudes and perceptions in NATO and DHL.
  • Language classroom observation in Chinese secondary schools.
  • A critical overview of the use of real books in teaching English to young learners.
  • Politeness strategies in Polish and English: a cross-cultural search for Universals.
  • Testing the C-test: an investigative overview of a modification of the cloze procedure.
  • The use of corpora in authentic classroom materials.
  • "Why French?" A study of foreign language teaching in Britain's schools.
  • In defence of the Black American identity: Exploring the Ebonics debate in terms of language, culture and identity.
  • A case study of Japanese-English bilingual language development.
  • Transition from Received Pronunciation to Estuary English.
  • Memory for language learning: the process of L2 orthographic retention and recall.
  • An empirical study into the use of elder-speak by carers to institutionalised adults: who cares?
  • Lexical chunking and language acquisition theory: implications for English language teaching.
  • Prejudice and the perception of accent: Giles 1970 revisited.
  • An investigation into the role of implicit and explicit teaching in second language acquisition: the case for consciousness raising.