PhD in TESOL Research

University of Stirling

Program Description

PhD in TESOL Research

University of Stirling


New for 2016, the PhD in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Research is a unique programme, offered at the University of Stirling. This ground-breaking programme will develop your research skills to a professional level, which is characteristic of a PhD degree, and support your learning through seven modules, a feature of taught doctorates. During your time at Stirling, your learning will be facilitated by tutors who have extensive expertise in TESOL, research methods and/or educational theories.

This is a novel PhD programme across the UK, which is entirely dedicated to TESOL Research. If you are interested in investigating language use, teaching and/or learning, this PhD programme will be of interest to you. The PhD will challenge the boundaries of your academic knowledge and will be a rewarding experience both personally and professionally.

Is a PhD in TESOL Research for me?

This program will appeal to you should you wish to develop your research skills and to become an autonomous researcher. Our PhD in TESOL Research will provide you with an opportunity to go beyond what would be required from a Master’s of Research (MRes) and an Educational Doctorate (EdD) in that you will produce a more substantial 60,000-word thesis. Before embarking on your thesis investigation, the program will foster your research skill development through seven taught modules on TESOL, research methods and educational theories. This academic support is one of the key differences between the University of Stirling’s PhD in TESOL Research and other comparable PhD programs currently on offer in the UK. By attaining a PhD you will achieve something significant.

This qualification will mark you out as an expert researcher in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages. You will achieve new skills in understanding complex matters, sharpen your problem-solving abilities, increase your confidence as a researcher and expand your knowledge of the field while also enjoying the PhD experience, which is an often overlooked aspect of the process. The academic environment at Stirling will not only give you freedom and challenges, but it will also provide you with numerous chances for intellectual debate with fellow experts. Your PhD journey will shape your future like no other qualification – academically, professionally and personally.

TOP Reasons To Study With Us

  1. Educational research has a long and much-admired history at the University of Stirling. In The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Education had the highest quality of research outputs of any Scottish University, with 100% of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.
  2. You will make an original contribution to scholarship and will be awarded the title of PhD in TESOL Research, a unique qualification that highlights your thorough knowledge in this area.
  3. You will be affiliated with Education within the Faculty of Social Sciences, an excitingly vibrant academic division, which is consistently ranked within the top 10 in the UK across all ranking tables.
  4. Because of the distinctive design of this PhD programme, you will be supported in your knowledge/research development process from the very start of your studies.
  5. You will benefit from a flexible programme delivered intensively (mostly on Fridays), allowing you to read and research extensively.

Course objectives

This unique PhD programme provides you with an ideal opportunity to develop your knowledge and research skills in TESOL in a multicultural environment. It will be of interest to those who have a background in Languages, Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, or a related field as well as to language teaching practitioners who have a keen interest in research.

As a student on the programme, you will have the chance to investigate a topic of your choice in a systematic and thorough way. You will have access to numerous options for further development offered by the Stirling Graduate School and by the Faculty of Social Sciences. TESOL students are also invited to our reading group meetings as well as to our English Language Teaching and Research (ELTR) events, which are delivered by leading researchers/professionals.

On completion, you will be a well-rounded professional researcher who has knowledge of the wider educational field, is proficient in the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods, has the skills needed to research any area within TESOL, and is able to make a contribution to scholarly knowledge and professional practice.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

In order to be considered for admission to the PhD in TESOL Research, you should usually have a minimum of a Master’s degree in TESOL, (Applied) Linguistics, Languages or cognate subject (60% average or above) from a university in the United Kingdom (UK) or elsewhere (provided that the degree levels are comparable those in the UK).

We also welcome inquiries from you if you do not have this formal qualification but have relevant research experience through your professional practice. In this case, you will be asked to undertake a task to demonstrate your research skills.

Irrespective of your academic background, you are expected to have excellent language and numeracy skills and a willingness to engage in depth and breadth with the research field in TESOL.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you should usually have one of the following minimum qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each of the skills
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade B
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade A
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 67 with a minimum of 60 in each of the four skills
  • IBT TOEFL: 100 with a minimum of 20 in each of the four skills

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Scholarships & funding

Tuition fees for the PhD in TESOL research are payable for a maximum of four years by full-time students and eight years by part-time students. Fees are payable annually and may also increase annually. The University offers a range of ways for students to pay their fees including by installments.

Funded opportunities at Stirling can be found on our Scholarships Finder and there are a variety of other sources of funding available to home/EU and overseas students.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies.

Delivery and assessment

The taught modules in this ground-breaking PhD in TESOL Research programme are delivered on a face-to-face and blended basis. The delivery types (e.g. lectures, workshops and student presentations) are carefully selected to suit the module content and your needs. The modules in your first year of full-time study (or first three years of part-time study) are delivered in a concentrated way mostly on Fridays, providing you with the time you need for reading and conducting your research.

Summative assessment for the taught modules will vary depending on their respective learning outcomes (e.g. presentation, annotated bibliography, essay, research proposal). For each 20-credit module, you will be asked to produce a piece of work which is equivalent to a 3,000-word essay. Your final assignment will be the production of original research to be reported in a 60,000-word thesis.

Career opportunities

There are thousands of qualified teachers of English to speakers of other languages worldwide; however, only a small proportion of these practitioners actually know how to conduct a high-quality systematic research in TESOL. Your PhD in TESOL research will equip you with much-needed research skills, allowing you to produce research which is at the forefront of our discipline. The PhD degree will open up numerous possibilities for furthering your professional and academic careers.


The University of Stirling is committed to enhancing your employability. Once you register for the PhD in TESOL Research, you will have access to the first-class range of services offered by the Career Development Centre, which you can avail of even after your graduation. Within TESOL, we additionally provide you with a tailored workshop series entitled “My career in TESOL” aimed at developing your awareness of continuous professional development, your knowledge of job market requirements and your confidence in applying for jobs. Your time as a PhD student at Stirling will not only help you to develop your research skills, but it will also provide you with a thorough understanding of how to evidence these skills when seeking a new post or applying for a promotion.

Industry connections

The programme is taught by experienced researchers who have extensive connections in the field of TESOL, including publishers and governmental organizations such as the British Council. You will have a chance to network with a range of other key players in the field who are invited to deliver workshops and seminars in our ELTR (English Language Teaching and Research) event series.

Cost & Fees


Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 (if required)
Overseas £15,250 £13,250 £13,250 £13,250
Home/EU £6,200 TBC TBC TBC


Start date:

  • January (part-time students) or
  • September (part- and full-time students).
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated April 7, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
Jan. 2019
3 - 8 years
Part time
Full time
6,200 GBP
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Start date: Jan. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Jan. 2019
United Kingdom - Stirling, Scotland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Overseas, Year 1: £15,250, Year 2: £13,250, Year 3: £13,250, Year 4 (If required): £13,250 - Home/EU Year 1: £6,200, Year 2: TBC, Year 3: TBC, Year 4: TBC