Award for ELT Masters Dissertation

UK Masters Dissertation awards - promoting achievements of students on UK universities Masters programmes for work with the best potential for impact on ELT practice.
The scheme is an opportunity for institutions to promote their programmes and for recent graduates to establish themselves in the field.

The entries for this year's award are closed and judging is now under way.

About the award

British Council Masters Dissertation Award with Best Potential for Impact on ELT



For the last four years, the British Council has partnered with UK universities to find ELT Masters dissertations with potential for impact on policy and practice. The scheme, where universities submit one dissertation from their ELT Masters programmes and then judge them along with a panel of British Council experts, is designed to recognise and celebrate the brightest minds in ELT at Masters level. By publishing the dissertations on the British Council website, the high quality dissertations become additions to the canon of research in ELT and accessible to practitioners around the world, thereby raising the profile of the authors and universities alike. The scheme is an opportunity for institutions to promote their programmes and for recent graduates to establish themselves in the field.

Call for entries

Each institution is invited to submit one dissertation which has already been marked at distinction level. A summary of no more than two pages, written or approved by the tutor, should be sent with the dissertation. In addition to summarising the dissertation this should address the issue of potential for impact. Impact here is defined as the potential of the work to change the attitudes, practices or policies of individuals or institutions. The British Council will publish the best dissertations and summaries online free of charge. 

Conditions of entry:

  • Permission from the author for both the summary and the dissertation to be published in any form by British Council on a non-exclusive basis.
Note: We have removed the requirement for submitting institutions to commit to providing a judge.

The judging process

The judging process for the awards is a collaborative and thorough process. All dissertations are submitted from UK institutions, marked at distinction level. This year the dissertations go through two rounds of evaluation. In the first round the dissertations are assessed by British Council panels who rank the dissertations according to the potential of the research to change the attitudes, practices or policies of individuals, classrooms or institutions. The best dissertations will then be evaluated by academics from the participating institutions.

2014 winners

2014 Winners

Last year’s competition was extremely impressive, with research into ELT themes such as CEFR statements, linguistic diversity, online gaming for English language learning, and covered a wide range of contexts including Belarus, Poland, Rwanda and Brazil, to name but a few.

The Judging Process

The judging process for the awards is a collaborative and thorough process. All dissertations are submitted from UK institutions, marked at distinction level.
Last year the dissertations went through two rounds of evaluation. In the first round the dissertations were assessed by British Council panels who ranked the dissertations according to the potential of the research to change the attitudes, practices or policies of individuals, classrooms or institutions. The best dissertations were then evaluated by academics from the participating institutions.

Winning dissertation:


Tim Goodier, King’s College London: Working with CEFR can-do statements

Special commendations:

Santi Budi Lestari, University of Warwick: Paraphrasing in high-scoring and low-scoring L2 integrated writing test task responses


Cathryn Tolon, University of Sussex: Teacher experiences during the shift in medium of instruction in Rwanda: voices from Kigali public schools


Sanghoon Mun, University of Bath: A study on teachers’ item weighting and the Rasch model: summative test items’ difficulty logits calibration using the Rasch model


(In alphabetical order.)

Each title links to the relevant dissertation paper:

Oliver Beddall, Aston University: Investigating reflective practice in a training course for young learner teachers


Hui Guo, Birkbeck, University of London: Analysing and evaluating current mobile applications for learning English speaking

Anne Hardy, Canterbury Christ Church University: An investigation to establish the impact of synthetic phonics on teaching children with English as an additional language to read


Natalia Blackman, University of Edinburgh: EFL teachers’ perceptions on the use of L1 in a primary and secondary classroom in Belarus


Jennefer Brown, University of Exeter: Teachers’ perceptions and uses of online gaming and virtual worlds for English language learning


Laura Sae Miyake Mark, University of Hull: Identity and interaction in second language acquisition: an investigation of Chinese learners’ use of ‘English’ names


Miroslawa Mohite, London Metropolitan University:  An investigation into the English language writing strategies used by Polish EFL secondary school learners


Susannah Pearson, Norwich Institute for Language Education: Reflection and continued teacher development after the storm: Writing self-study materials for newly-qualified CELTA teachers



Hamish Chalmers, Oxford Brookes University: Harnessing linguistic diversity in polylingual British-curriculum schools. Do L1 mediated home learning tasks improve learning outcomes for bilingual children? A randomised trial

Richard Spiby, University of Reading: A comparison of the performance and utilization of reading strategies on tests of expeditious and careful reading

 Daniel Baines, Sheffield Hallam University: Reflection and improvement on the four-week intensive TEFL course


Ghadah Saleh Aloqaili, University of Southampton: Learning vocabulary from subtitled videos: an investigation into the effectiveness of using subtitled videos for intentional vocabulary learning in Saudi Arabia with an exploration of learners’ perspective

Xiaoya Zhou, University of Stirling: Learner's strategy use to guess word meanings during interactive read-aloud: a case study


Laís Borges, University College London: Pronunciation beliefs and other predictors of phonological performance: a study with Brazilian ESL learners



Previous winners

2013 Awards



Thomas Michael Jameson, University of Edinburgh: Attitudes Towards English in Relation to English as a Lingua Franca in the Tanzanian Context.


Special commendations


Claudia Spataro, University of Leeds: Using Moodle 2.3 to improve perception skills in EFL listening: does it work?

Jeremy Scott, University of Exeter: Foreign Territory: An Ethnographic Study of an “English Village” within a Japanese University.



Adam Turner, Aston University: Participant observation of the interaction in an engineering lab to improve materials design and writing support for graduate students and faculty publishing in English at a research university in Korea.


Laura Patsko, Kings College London: Using the Lingua Franca Core to promote students’ mutual intelligibility in the multilingual classroom: Five teachers’ experiences.



Samantha Meehan, University of Lancashire: An Investigation into the Structural Errors of Arabic Learners’ Written Persuasive Discourse in English.



Rhona Cole, Sheffield Hallam University: An investigation into the use of a theme based on children’s literature to support the development of speaking skills and early writing skills in a bilingual preschool environment.


Samira Hazari, University of Warwick: Equipping young learners with learning to learn strategies by developing their meta-cognitive skills through reflection.


2012 Awards

Winning dissertation

Michelle Vyncke, King’s College: The Concept and Practice of Critical Thinking in Academic Writing: An Investigation of International Students’ Perceptions and Writing Experiences

Summary statement

Special commendation

Jo Gakonga, University of Warwick: Collaboration or Bust? An Inquiry into the Use of Differing On-line Models of Delivery for a Pre-service Grammar Course for English Teachers.

Summary statement

Finalists' summary statements

Tanya Cotter, Leeds Metropolitan University: Pre-departure Beginner Level English Course for Bangladeshi Female Migrant Domestic Workers

Tojiniso Olimnazarova, University of Birmingham: Using Students’ Linguistic Repertoires for Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Tajikistan

Tetsuya Onishi, University of Edinburgh: Pilot Cooperative Learning in Japanese Secondary School EFL Contexts: What are the Students’ Perceptions?

Stephen Deane, University of Exeter: An Exploration into Learner Perceptions of Speaking Skills in English for Academic Purposes

Scott J. Shelton-Strong, University of Nottingham: Exploration, Analysis and Evaluation of Literature Circles in EFL: A Case Study of Higher Intermediate Young Adults in Vietnam

Phyllida Furse, Birmingham City University: “Are You Speaking Comfortably?” A Consideration of the Risk Factors, Implications and Prevention of Muscle Tension Dysphonia in Teachers

Phuong Le Hoang Ngo, University of Southampton: An Investigation into Vietnamese Teachers’ and Students’ Perception of English as a Lingua Franca

Martha Moreno Navarro, University College Plymouth St Mark and St John: Towards the Adoption of Inclusive Strategies for a Non-sighted Undergraduate Student in an EFL Classroom

Lukasz Materowski, University of Hull: The Influence of the Second Language on First Language Writing: A Case Study of a Polish-English Bilingual Child

Lesley Keast, Sheffield Hallam University: The Nature of Praise and Positive Feedback in the Young Learner ELT Classroom

Keli Ramos, Aston University: Learning from Our Mistakes: Making Students Notice

Karolina Kowalczyk, University of Central Lancashire: Research into the Level of Support Offered to Dyslexic EFL Learners in Polish Lower-Secondary Schools in Mainstream Education

Jiemin Wen, University of Lancaster: A Study of Learners' Perceptions and Uptake of Corrective Feedback in Text-chat Dyadic Interaction

Carrie Anne Thomas, University of Oxford: Living in L1, Learning in L2: Language ideologies and practices of English immersion students

Bernhard Rychetsky, Norwich Institute for Language Education: 'She teaches ill, who teaches all' - Assessing the Effects of a Discovery-based Language Awareness Approach on Learners Aged 16 to 17 at an Austrian Upper-level Secondary Academic School (Gymnasium) Through the Use of Popular Sitcoms

Ben Smart, Birkbeck, University of London: Exploring Pedagogical Reasoning Skills: How Native English Speaking Teachers and Non-native English Speaking Teachers Approach a Reading Lesson

Adam Deaner, The Open University: An Investigation into the Impact of Collaborative Practices on the Opportunities for Learning and Participation in an EFL Classroom


Award for Masters Dissertation with best potential for impact on ELT: FAQs


What is the purpose of the scheme?

To recognise the potential for impact of Masters dissertation research and scholarship in a field related to ELT. Impact here is defined as the potential of the research to change attitudes or priorities of individuals or institutions with regard to the development of policies and practices at local or regional or national levels. A secondary purpose of the scheme is to encourage students to focus on areas of research that will have impact. 

Who is eligible?

To be considered for the award the dissertation must have been completed in the 2014-15 academic year at a tertiary level institution in the UK recognised as an accredited degree-awarding body. Any submission will have been marked at distinction (70+) level. The dissertation can be completed in any mode (e.g. full-time, part-time or distance learning). 

Does eligibility depend on nationality?

No, the scheme is open to all Masters students at UK universities. The nationality of the student is not relevant. 

Can students apply directly or only institutions?

Only UK institutions can apply, with a single dissertation. If an institution mistakenly submits more than one dissertation we will get back to you to discuss which is the official submission.

What is the application process?

In the first instance the institution submits a two-page maximum summary of the dissertation. This should be agreed by the institution, with any appropriate input from the author. This summary includes a statement of the practical potential of the ideas presented in the dissertation. The application should also include the dissertation itself, and permission from the author to publish the dissertation or summary free of charge online.

What form should the summary/dissertation take?

The summary should be written in Arial 12 and single-spaced and submitted in word format. A first section should summarise the dissertation. A second section should outline the potential for impact. In order to allow for blind review, neither the summary nor the dissertation should contain any branding or other reference to the author or the submitting institution.

How does the British Council define ‘impact’?

For this award, the British Council defines impact as: “the potential of the research to change the attitudes, practices or policies of individuals or institutions.” Possible elements of impact are:
  • Credibility: A solid theoretical and empirical basis for the findings is necessary for credibility of the dissertation in the eyes of decision makers internationally.
  • Novelty: If a dissertation replicates results that are already available, it is questionable whether it can potentially have further impact.
  • Applicability: Unless it is clear how the implications of the dissertation can be translated to action on the ground (e.g. in terms of policy decisions, of materials design, or of classroom activities), the potential impact will be lessened.
  • Breadth of impact: How wide or limited is the potential audience for the impact?

What is the evaluation process?

The first ranking round will be based on the two-page summary. The second round will be based on the full dissertation. 

Who can be a judge?

We will invite institutions to nominate appropriately qualified and experienced individuals. Participating universities will not have to commit to nominating a judge.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline is Monday 21 December 2015

What will happen with the dissertations judged to be the best?

The dissertations and / or summaries will be published online by the British Council.

What about copyright?

The author agrees to the papers being used for educational purposes globally, and retains rights to publish in other formats. The British Council owns the copyright of any compilation. 

Does the dissertation and summary have to be written in English?

Yes, all submitted documentation should be written in English.

Are dissertations which focus on English Literature or the English language eligible for the scheme?

No, this scheme focuses on English language teaching.

Queries should be sent to