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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Durham Centre for Academic Development

LANG43015: Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To create a better understanding of the primary psychological variables that influence successful language learning and teaching.
  • To inform future teaching practice both in longer-term strategic planning and moment-by-moment classroom decisions.
  • To develop a firm grasp of the current state of knowledge in this vibrant area of applied linguistics research.


  • This module explores key themes within the field, such as autonomy and agency; identity, attitudes, and beliefs; self-efficacy; foreign language classroom anxiety, and willingness to communicate; self-based approaches, and motivation. It is recognised that teachers have a significant impact on variables such as learner motivation. It is therefore, of great value that teachers develop their awareness of applied linguistics research into these core psychological constructs. Subsequent increased understanding of language learner psychology may then be employed to facilitate greater student engagement and increases in language acquisition.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and understanding of key theories related to the psychology of language learning and teaching.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the empirical research methodologies appropriate for identifying latent psychological variables.
  • Knowledge and understanding of how a complexity perspective can be applied as an analytical lens in psychology research.
  • Knowledge and understanding of how psychology of learning and teaching theories can be applied to the language classroom.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to critically evaluate key theories, explanatory models within the field.
  • Ability to connect theory with practice considering context-appropriate pedagogies.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to communicate analysis and arguments clearly and in an appropriate style.
  • Ability to draw on past experiences and apply theory to practice.
  • Ability to reflect on personal learning and/or teaching experiences.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Weekly interactive lectures will introduce the students to core concepts, theoretical frameworks, and models. Spaces in each lecture will be designed for active participation, discussion, and sharing of ideas. Weekly assigned reading texts extend this knowledge base and enable the students to prepare for the bi-weekly seminars. Seminars will evidence a range of approaches, from student led presentations, to small scale empirical work, and ongoing pair / group discussions which encourage deeper critical engagement with the themes of the module. For assessment, students will select one of a range of essay titles and engage in self-directed secondary research prior to demonstrating their depth of understanding of a key theme from the module. A formative submission point for a draft essay allows for tutor-directed feedback which can further facilitate student development.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 Weekly 2 hours 18
Seminars 4 Fortnightly 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 128
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Optional essay first draft submission point for formative feedback.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University