module specification

LN7061 - Research Methods in Applied Linguistics (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Poster presentation
Coursework 50%   2500 word Research Proposal
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester LMET Distance Learning Not applicable -

Module summary

This module explores a range of approaches, methods and traditions in research in Applied Linguistics. Its content covers both quantitative research design with associated issues of validity, reliability and sampling, and a wide range of qualitative approaches to research in language and language teaching. More specifically, It offers in-depth exploration of the problems and issues surrounding the use of questionnaires as research tools, the uses of interviewing in qualitative socio-linguistic research, as well as ethnography as a research method.  It introduces students to current approaches, issues and debates in the area of classroom research, with a particular focus on classroom observations and action research. It also explores issues, problems and current approaches to collecting and analyzing spoken language data as well as, more broadly, communication research, including consideration of multi-modal data, text messaging and computer-mediated interactions.

Teaching is highly interactive and is conducted through a combination of lectures, group work and practical tasks. Critical analysis and deconstruction of research articles and research data, as well as hands-on practice with research tools are regularly incorporated into teaching sessions.

All members of the teaching staff contribute topics to this module, from the varying perspectives of their own specialist areas, and frequently collaborate in the presentation of individual topics. At the same time, all staff members are involved in both the planning and coordination of module content throughout the period in which it runs.  Making connections with other modules and components of the MA programme is an ongoing concern. Students are encouraged to reflect on and apply principles of research to their own professional and cultural contexts of experience, and are supported in the process of developing ideas, questions and problems into viable research topics.

The assessment element of the module is focused explicitly on developing an appropriate and manageable dissertation project, and considering how best to approach it in terms of research methods, objectives and potential outcomes. Formative assessment takes the form of a Poster Conference in week 11, in which each student presents a projected research design in poster form with accompanying verbal presentation. Building on the feedback they receive from this presentation, summative assessment takes the form of a formal written research proposal, submitted after the Easter break.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The central aim of this module is to prepare students for the Dissertation module that follows, by giving them a solid grounding in both current research methodology in Applied linguistics and the theoretical paradigms from which they arise. It aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills they require in the theoretical and practical aspects of conducting research, including reliability, validity and ethical issues.
Students should be enabled to:
1) Understand, identify and evaluate different research methodologies in Applied Linguistics
2) Understand, examine and critically evaluate the main issues and debates in research methods
3) Identify an area of enquiry and select an appropriate research method for it
4) Be familiar with different ways of collecting, analysing and presenting data.


1    Introduction to types of research and types of data
2    Quantitative approaches
3    Questionnaires as a research tool
4    Interviewing in qualitative research
5    Researching classrooms
6    Classroom observation and action research
7    Researching discourse: spoken language data
8    Researching communication: multimodal data
9    Research processes and ethical issues
10  Preparation for poster presentation
11  Poster Conference
12  Preparation for dissertation.

Learning and teaching

The module offers a combination of lectures, seminars, interactive tasks, group work and presentations.
Lectures and seminars include elements of blended learning, PowerPoint and links to online resources.  The approach is essentially interactive and students are expected to engage and participate in discussions.  They work in small groups, discussing articles, analysing research articles, working with data and critically analysing research tools. We expose them to a wide range of research studies in the field of applied linguistics, both published articles and past student research, using good and poor examples in order to develop their critical awareness and analysis of the elements of good research practice. In this way, too, they are given ample demonstrations of the processes and decision-making involved in shaping a research project from ideas or problems to focused questions through methodology and analysis.
Throughout the module students are also encouraged in the development of their own research ideas and towards the end of the module opportunities are provided for presentation of their own research designs for peer review and feedback. They are encouraged to read widely in their area of interest and specific guidance is given in the skills of reading for the purpose of informing research.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able :

1) to identify a range of research methods that are used in language teaching, learning and other language-related disciplines
2) to critically consider, select and apply an appropriate research method for their own MA dissertation
3) to be familiar with a range of different data collection tools and to select the tools that are effective and appropriate to the purpose of their research
4) to identify various sources of reliable information and build up a relevant theoretical background to their research at an advanced level
5) to understand ethical considerations and issues in their research.

Assessment strategy

There are two assessed components in this module, both focused on the development of a viable and well-justified research plan for the MA dissertation to follow.

The first is formative assessment in the form of a poster presentation in week 11. Each student designs a poster to graphically represent key aspects of a proposed research study and prepares a verbal presentation of the poster’s contents. Two members of staff evaluate the poster’s content, the verbal presentation and the student’s ability to answer questions. The main criteria for assessment are the presence of a clear and focused topic and research questions, a strong contextualisation and rationale for the study, a theoretical framework and evidence of relevant reading, and a well-developed and justified methodology.

The written feedback that students receive from examiners informs their preparation of the second, summative, component of assessment:  a written research proposal. The aim of the proposal is to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the research methods and issues explored in the module through applying this knowledge in the design of a viable and methodologically well-founded study.

Both components are evaluated and marked by two members of staff, followed by a moderation process involving all staff members.


Alwright, D. (1993) Observation in the language classroom. London: Longman.
Blommaert, J. & Dong, J. (2010) Ethnographic fieldwork: A beginner’s guide. Bristol: Multilingual Matters (available on Weblearn with permission of authors).
Burns, A. (2005) State of the art article: Action research, an evolving paradigm? Language Teaching, vol. 38 (2), 57-74.
Cameron, D. (2001) Working with spoken discourse. London: Sage.
Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2007) Research methods in education. 6th edition. London: Routledge.
Cresswell, J. (2003) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. London: Sage.
Cresswell, J. (2007) Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches, choosing among five traditions. London: Sage.
Dornyei, Z. (2003) Questionnaires in second language research. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Dornyei, Z. (2007) Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford: OUP. Fasold, R. (1987) The sociolinguistics of society. London: Blackwell.
Hammersley, M. (2006) Ethnography: Problems and prospects. Ethnography & Education, 1(1), 3-14.
Kvale, S. (2002) Interviews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. 2nd edition. London: Sage.
Litosseliti, L. (2010) Research Methods in Linguistics. London: Continuum.
Milroy, L. & Gordon, M. (2003) Sociolinguistics: Method and interpretation. London: Blackwell.
Nunan, D. (1992) Research methods in language learning. Cambridge: CUP
Oppenheim, A.N. (2000) Questionnaire design, interviewing and attitude measurement. London: Continuum.
Wray, A. & Bloomer, A. (1998) Projects in linguistics: a practical guide to researching language. London: Hodder Arnold.


Language Teaching Research
Research in Education
Research in Language and Social Interaction


BERA (British Educational Research Association)
HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area
BAAL  (British Association for Applied Linguistics)