Postgraduate Certificate in TESOL (ESOL Specialism)

Postgraduate Certificate in TESOL (ESOL Specialism)


This ESOL-specific award takes inspiration from a rights-based approach to language that sees the provision of language education to all members as a right that enables them to participate equally in society. Drawing on theories of participatory pedagogy and recognising the needs of learners who may have literacy and trauma related challenges, the philosophy of the course informs all aspects of its content – from classroom organisation to the focus on the real–life needs of the learners.

The award is structured to facilitate flexible learning and professional development. Each of the three modules will feature a minimum of one session of face-to-face teaching at our Cardiff Campus.

Dr Mike Chick, who is USW’s Refugee Champion and responsible for a wide range of activities associated with USW’s status as a University of Sanctuary, has developed this course regarding the ESOL specialism. Course and module design builds on his experience in this area, on his professional networks, published and current research, and consultation with external stakeholders.

The sixty credits which constitute the PG Certificate forms the first part of the MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) specialism.

Active, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning are encouraged, drawing on sound principles of Action Research, Exploratory Practice and Critical ESOL pedagogies. The approach to learning is based on active enquiry brought to bear on predominant theories in the field. The development of communities of practice will be encouraged throughout the course and the interconnectedness of politics, migration, education, and inclusion will be a central feature.

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Entry Requirements

An undergraduate degree in any discipline with a minimum 2:2 classification.

An interview may be offered where applicants do not meet this classification. The interview will assess any combination of relevant study, language-teaching qualifications, and work experience, including volunteering.

For applicants not educated through the medium of English, an IELTS score of 6.5 is required.  Each component minimum required score is IELTS reading 6.0, writing 6.0, listening 6.0 and speaking 6.0.


The postgraduate certificate consists of three, core, 20-credit modules taught in sequence.

Participatory Approaches to the ESOL Classroom

The module aims to provide participants with a thorough understanding of both the theory and practice of participatory language education, to enable participants to be confident in carrying out emergent language teaching, and to empower participants to be confident in enacting a co-constructed, emergent, syllabus.

The Politics of Migrant Language Education

Language educators working with the growing numbers of forced migrants in the ESOL classroom require a broader understanding of inclusion, integration, and related policies in their local contexts. As such, this module offers potential for collaborations with students working on projects relating to public services, social sciences, and global leadership.

Teaching Basic Literacy and Trauma Informed Pedagogy

This module covers the approaches to teaching basic literacy – to people literate in a first language but unfamiliar with Latin script (e.g., Arabic speakers) and to people who are not literate in their first language.

It involves the development of a deep understanding of the role of a trauma informed pedagogy in language education for migrants.


This course features blended learning with block (intensive) delivery: most workshops are online, but participants will also meet during the face-to-face sessions at our Cardiff Campus.

Modules are taught one at a time. The usual schedule will be:

Participatory approaches to the ESOL classroom: February

  • Three sessions of online delivery
  • A minimum of one session face-to-face

The politics of migrant language education March / April

  • Three sessions of online delivery
  • A minimum of one session face-to-face

Teaching Basic Literacy and Trauma Informed Pedagogy: April / May

  • Three sessions of online delivery
  • A minimum of one session face-to-face

This delivery pattern is designed to foster an effective learning community and professional network for students, while facilitating students already employed full-time in this area, for whom employers may fund continuous professional development.

The modules are taught through interactive workshops consisting of short lectures, activities, and discussions. These interactive workshops accommodate cutting edge research-based content best shared in the form of short lectures; opportunities for staff and students to discuss and model different classroom scenarios; time for formative assessment in the form of practical individual and small-group exercises; and space for discussion of key concepts.


Students will be able to meet with the course leader online or in person, by appointment, throughout their studies.  


Assessment brings theoretical aspects to bear on practical, context-specific classroom realities. All assessment is through coursework, there are no exams.

Participatory approaches to the ESOL classroom

Assessment is through a project which contributes 100% of marks for the module. The project which can be shaped to learners’ current or planned professional experience.

The Politics of Migrant Language Education

Assessment is through two essays, each contributing 50% of the marks for the module.

Teaching Basic Literacy and Trauma Informed Pedagogy

Assessment is in the form of one essay, contributing 40% of marks for the module, and one project, contributing 60% of marks for the module: the project is an exercise in syllabus design.



USW has a strong commitment to providing technology-based learning environments to support students. Whether studying on campus, at home or elsewhere, students have web access to essential course materials anytime and anywhere.

Students will have access to libraries and study spaces at all our campuses. Many library resources are also available digitally.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


The need for this highly original and unique course is the culmination of work in the field of ESOL over the last decade or so. Moreover, the current humanitarian crises surrounding forced migration means that the demand for specifically trained tutors of migrants and forced migrants is extremely high.

The ESOL specialism proposed here is a response to feedback from employers, educators, and volunteers in the field. It reflects Welsh government strategy as well as educator needs identified throughout the UK (and beyond) by relevant professional research networks.

This award is suitable for anyone working or seeking to work in language education for migrants. Colleges, adult education, third sector and local authority employees would benefit from the award’s focus on language, politics and inclusion.


Full time

Complete your degree in the shortest possible time and study flexibly – when and where suits you!


You’ll study 9 modules in total (approx. 37 hrs/week).

Part time option one

Study for a degree whilst fitting it around your work, care and other life commitments.


You’ll study 6 modules per year (approx. 25 hrs/week).

Part time option two

Take time to study and spread the tuition fees over a longer period – at no extra cost.


You’ll study 4–5 modules per year (approx. 19 hrs/week).

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