MA in Language Testing (Distance)
Lancaster has a world-wide reputation for excellence in language testing. Staff members Silke Brandt, Tineke Brunfaut, Luke Harding, Judit Kormos, Marije Michel, and honorary members Charles Alderson and Dianne Wall have led and contributed to numerous language testing projects, including national test development projects in many countries and international test development and evaluation projects in English and other languages.
Former Lancaster Language Testing students are now leading test development and research projects in many parts of the world, in Ministries of Education and Defence, curriculum development centres, and universities and other institutions of higher learning, designing and evaluating tests of general language ability and languages for specific purposes.
Our web-based MA in Language Testing is designed so that you do not have to leave your workplace to pursue your studies in Lancaster. It offers you the opportunity for part-time distance learning and for basing your coursework and dissertation on issues and problems in your own educational context.
Major successes of our MA in Language Testing students include the BALEAP MA Dissertation Award which has been awarded to Nikolay Gochev (2014) and the IELTS Caroline Clapham MA Dissertation Awards which were presented to Benjamin Kremmel (2013), Veronika Timpe (2012), and Thom Kiddle (2010). The dissertations of Gerard Seinhorst and Miguel Fernandez were also recognised as having very high quality. In addition, Eve Ryan's dissertation research was highly praised by the Executive Board of the 2012 MwALT Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Language Assessment Research.
This programme meets the needs of language teaching and testing professionals who have responsibilities for testing and evaluation at institutional, regional or national level. It provides you with a solid grounding in language testing design, construction and evaluation, and in research design, so that the testing and evaluation policies you create within your own contexts conform to international standards for validity and reliability.
There is a 3-day compulsory orientation seminar in Lancaster at the beginning of the programme so that you can become familiar with the requirements of the programme and of web-based learning and so that you can meet your tutors and fellow students.
In 2016, the seminar will be held in Lancaster from 28th to 30th of September. Participants should plan to arrive in Lancaster on September 27th and will be free to leave on September 30th after 5.30pm. The programme is entirely web-based thereafter.
There are five modules, taken in this order:
- Language Test Construction and Evaluation
- Background to Applied Linguistics for Language Testing
- Issues in Language Testing
- Research Methods
- Statistics for Language Testing
Each module is to be completed within a 10-week period. Three modules will be assessed by a 5,000 word assignment. The fourth module will be assessed by a 3,000 word assignment and a recorded presentation. The fifth module will be assessed by a 2,500 word assignment and three 500 word assignments. Assignments will be tailored to be of relevance to your own testing context. The final component of the course will be a dissertation of 15,000 words. All modules and the dissertation component will be fully supported by members of the Lancaster teaching staff, through supervised web-based group discussions and individual academic supervision.
Director of Studies: Tineke Brunfaut
Programme length: 24 months part-time, by distance learning (September start)
Audience: language teaching and testing professionals who have responsibilities for testing and evaluation at institutional, regional or national level
Assessment: Coursework and dissertation
Enquiries: Elaine Heron
Application Deadline: The next course to run will be cohort 10, September 2016 to September 2018. Our deadline for applications is 30th June 2016.
Undergraduate upper-second class degree or higher, in a relevant specialism (language studies or linguistics-oriented subject preferred). For students who have studied outside of the United Kingdom see Postgraduate Taught Programmes International Qualifications
English language level (for applicants whose native language is not English)
IELTS Academic (UKVI Approved): Our official requirement for IELTS is a score of at least 6.5 overall with at least 6.5 in the reading and writing elements and 6.0 in the listening and speaking elements.
If applicants have taken these exams in the last two years we can accept their test scores; otherwise we ask that they take the exam again.
If applicants have either/both of the following, completed within the last 2 years they may not need to submit a test score:
- 2 years’ full-time study at undergraduate level, in the UK or other majority English speaking country
- 1 year’s full-time study at postgraduate level, in the UK or other majority English speaking country
See the university guidance on English Language Requirements for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the aims of the course?
- What is the content of the course?
- How is the course taught?
- How is the course assessed?
- Who are the course tutors?
- When does the course begin and how long does it last?
- What are the fees?
- When are fees payable?
- Can fees be paid in installments?
- What are the language requirements?
- Is there any residential requirement?
- How do I apply?
This MA is being introduced to meet the needs of language teaching professionals who have responsibilities for testing and evaluation at institutional, regional or national level, but who find it difficult to leave their place of work to undertake a full-time MA in Lancaster. The MA is fully web-based, but there is a short residential in Lancaster at the start of the programme so that participants can get to know each other, the staff and Lancaster University and, especially, so that they can become acquainted with the course and its means of communication.
The programme consists of 5 modules and a dissertation. The modules are:
- Language Test Construction and Evaluation (September – December Year 1)
- Background to Applied Linguistics for Language Testing (January – March Year 1)
- Issues in Language Testing (April – June Year 1)
- Research Methods (October – December Year 2)
- Statistics for Language Testing (January – March Year 2)
The dissertation will be written in the period between April and September Year 2 and will be 15,000 - 20,000 words long. Students will be supervised via computer-mediated communication. The fourth module (Research Issues in Applied Linguistics) will also provide guidance on choosing research questions, methodology etc.
The taught modules consist of a number of units (generally 8 to 10) that simulate the lecture + seminar/workshop format that is found in face-to-face teaching in our department. The participants work on one module per academic term, over the course of five terms. The modules are designed for postgraduate, post-experience participants, and include content which is of relevance to their own professional sphere of operation. Input material introduces appropriate themes, approaches and theories and these are supplemented by tasks representing authentic challenges in language testing and seeking to develop particular aspects of the participants' competence.
Each unit of a module generally occupies one week, a typical timetable for a module is as follows:
|Unit||Unit Title||Start Date|
|Unit 1||Evaluating and Revising Test Items||28 September 2015|
|Unit 2||Test Specifications||12 October 2015|
|Unit 3||Item Analysis||19 October 2015|
|Unit 4||Descriptive Statistics||26 October 2015|
|Unit 5||Reliability||2 November 2015|
|READING WEEK||9 November 2015|
|Unit 6||Assessing Writing||16 November 2015|
|Unit 7||Assessing Speaking||23 November 2015|
|Unit 8||Assessing Reading||30 November 2015|
|Unit 9||Assessing Listening||7 December 2015|
Students need to be prepared to spend between 5 to 10 hours per week on course readings and tasks. Where possible, they should also plan to be available online during our regular ten week term times
Participants carry out tasks individually or in small groups, communicating with one another and their tutor by means of module-specific discussion sites. There is a balance between independent learning opportunities and group endeavours, as participants need to develop both self-sufficiency and the ability to learn from their peers.
These activities are complemented by guided dissertation work, where participants design and carry out their own project whilst benefiting from regular opportunities to receive input and feedback. They begin their dissertation work during the fourth module, which is dedicated to research issues and techniques, and they continue for six months after the completion of their fifth module. It is during this process that applicants can test their own aptitude and disposition for doctoral research, if this is of interest.
Each module is assessed via one or more assignments (making up a total of 20 credits for each module), often tailored to complement participants' job demands. Three modules will be assessed by a 5,000 word assignment. The fourth module will be assessed by a 3,000 word assignment and a recorded presentation. The fifth module will be assessed by a 2,500 word assignment and three 500 word assignments.
The dissertation is 15,000 - 20,000 words in length (80 credits) and students are supervised via computer-mediated communication.
The programme starts in September of Year 1 and runs over 2 academic years, ending in September of Year 2.
For confirmation of the current tuition fees please see Postgraduate Fees & Funding.
The MA in Language Testing is a two-year part-time programme, please note that the fee for the second year will be slightly higher, since fees are increased on an annual basis.
Lancaster University will normally send an invoice for the first half of the programme once it has started, in October, and an invoice for the second half of the course at the beginning of the second year. However, if it is more convenient for funders, the University can send out invoices as soon as the student has confirmed that they are accepting the offer to study on the MA and have completed the registration process. Invoices are usually sent out by post but they can be faxed as well if this is preferred. You will need to provide the address to which the invoice should be sent, the fax number, and the reference number.
Yes, it is possible to pay in 2 equal installments each year.
IELTS: Our official requirement for IELTS is a score of at least 6.5 overall with at least 6.5 in the reading and writing elements and 6.0 in the listening and speaking elements.
PTE Academic: Pearson Test of English Academic scores of at least 62 overall (with at least 62 in the reading and writing elements and 55 in the listening and speaking elements). Please see Pearson PTE Academic pages for more information.
If applicants have taken any of these exams in the last two years we can accept their test scores; otherwise we ask that they take the exam again. If, however, they have done their undergraduate studies in Britain, the US or another English-medium educational system and have successfully completed their degree within the past two years they may not need to submit a test score.
The programme will start with an on-campus compulsory Orientation Seminar. The purpose of the seminar is to acquaint all of the participants with the goals and content of the programme and, importantly, with the procedures for accessing the web-based materials.
In 2016, the seminar will be held in Lancaster from 28th to 30th of September. Participants should plan to arrive in Lancaster on September 27th and will be free to leave on September 30th after 5.30pm.
There is no additional cost for the Orientation Seminar but participants will have to make their own arrangements for transportation to Lancaster and will need a modest allowance for accommodation and meals. We will post details and booking information in August, prior to the start of the course.
The next course to run will be cohort 10, September 2016 to September 2018. Our deadline for applications is 30th June 2016.
If you are interested in applying please go to the following website www.postgraduate.lancs.ac.uk and follow the instructions. If you have any queries please contact our Faculty PG Admissions team:
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Telephone: +44 (0)1524 510880
Fax: +44 (0)1524 510857
For more details about how to apply please see our General Application Advice.
What Our Students Say
Lars Bokander, 2012-13 (Sweden)
I was surprised by how incredibly fast the two years at this MA programme passed by. That is probably because it was such an exciting and intense period, with weekly tasks on a wide variety of topics, demanding module papers and finally our individual research project, captivating and rewarding, and of course very challenging. The tutors were not only very knowledgeable in their fields, but they also managed to create a stimulating social learning environment on-line, with group tasks and lively discussions between group members. Another great thing was the flexibility offered when choosing topics for our papers and dissertation, so that one may explore personal areas of interest more in depth, after covering many different areas during the instructional units.
The knowledge I brought back from this MA has proven very helpful in assessment issues where I work, and I have also developed my understanding and critical reading of scientific texts in the field of applied linguistics and language testing in particular. Also, from my non-English horizon, this MA has opened doors to a world of international research. That will certainly be helpful if I will have the opportunity to continue with a PhD degree in the future.
Khadijah Jilani, 2011-12 (Saudi Arabia)
The course was amazing, every last bit of it. I feel really fortunate to have been 'through' it. I feel as though I've just begun to see so many glittering jewels that I never knew existed before.
Eva Konrad, 2011-12 (Austria)
Doing the MA at Lancaster University was a great experience. It provided me with a solid theoretical background in language testing and was at the same time strongly practice-related, allowing and encouraging us students to bring in our own experiences from various professional backgrounds.
The clear structure of the course helped me stay on top of my studies (at least most of the time) while working, and was supported by very helpful technical and admin staff. I was amazed by the amount and depth of feedback we received from our tutors - I felt supported and challenged by them throughout the course but especially so during writing my dissertation. It was hard work, but I do miss it! I profited from this course both academically and professionally, and I very much enjoyed doing it.
Michael Roberts, 2010-11 (United Kingdom)
A notable feature of the Distance MA in Language Testing was the excellence of tutor feedback, in terms of both quality and frequency. The reflective journal afforded an additional opportunity to express concerns, pose questions and offer comments in a private discussion with tutors - this was invaluable. The design of both structure and content is excellent. Each of the five course modules is built on ten weekly units and an assignment. A major strength is participants' weekly submission of tasks, sometimes individually and sometimes as a group. This meant that learning from tutors, course colleagues and academic readings and lectures was constant and consistent. This weekly participation ensured we were well prepared to undertake each assignment. Practical issues in test design were always considered against a theoretical background of Applied Linguistics and research issues. Work on statistics was introduced early on and, as statistical analysis was immediately linked to a practical purpose, this made it accessible. The later module on statistics was challenging but always presented in the same accessible manner.
Katerina Vlasakova, 2010-11 (Czech Republic)
I can hardly believe it has been over two years since our cohort met in snowy Lancaster for the first time. Although I was grateful that I could study the programme I was interested in by distance, I realised how different the experience might be when being a full-time student in such a calm and pleasant environment and with all the facilities the Lancaster campus offers. Nonetheless, I very much appreciated the flexibility of the distance programme, even though the studies required considerable time, effort and patience. I was positively surprised to see that I did not miss the physical presence of the tutors and classmates as much as I had feared; no matter how many time zones and kilometers there were between us, everyone was ready to help whenever I needed to discuss matters or asked for advice. Moreover, the variety of backgrounds in our cohort contributed to sharing experiences, comparing methods, practices, and, last but not least, issues related to different languages. The programme did not only deepen my academic skills, it also considerably extended my theoretical background in the field of language testing (the field I work in), and it has given me a number of new colleagues I am always looking forward to meeting at workshops and conferences.
Veronika Timpe, 2010-11 (Germany)
As a junior faculty member in a TESOL program in Germany, I began the program with the intention to learn more about language testing. I finished the program having made testing and assessment into my primary interest and focus in research. The MA program was very well and clearly structured. Starting with item writing, test construction and evaluation, we touched upon critical issues in applied linguistics, as well as statistics in the contexts of classical test and item response theory. Throughout all modules, practical and theoretical issues were always looked at in relation to one another. In short, the program provided an excellent structure and curriculum to engage in and learn about language testing and assessment. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to engage in language testing and assessment! Even though in the beginning I was concerned about the long distance and online character of the program it turned out to be one of the best learning environments for me. The 'by distance factor' created not only a very flexible, but also an additional learning experience. Given that I travel a lot, I was able to work on the weekly tasks and module assignments from places all around the world such as a motel in the Sonoran desert in Arizona, a friend's living room in Amsterdam or a hotel in the Austrian Alps. The use of a variety of online resources, the collaboration through the virtual Moodle platform, and the need to present your group work and results in a form understandable for everyone provided a sometimes challenging, but ultimately rewarding learning experience. Now that I finished the program, I feel that I graduate with a profound knowledge in language testing, a great network of people in the language testing community (I have seen many of them at conferences), and the motivation to engage in further research in the field. Thank you, tutors and fellow MA participants, for a great experience and your continuous support throughout the two years!