Department of English Language  Pedagogy

School of English and American Studies - Eötvös Loránd University

1088 Budapest, Rákóczi út 5. tel.: (36-1) 485 52 00 extension: 4407, email: delp@seas3.elte.hu




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MA in ELT thesis information[1]



In this section information is provided about:


Getting supervision

Topics for the thesis

The extension of the BA thesis into an MA thesis

Starting procedures: selecting/ registering a topic; deadlines

Formal requirements

Thesis content

The structure of the thesis: an empirical research paper

The structure of the thesis: a theoretical thesis paper

Suggested length/proportion of chapters

Submission of the thesis

The assessment of the thesis



Students who have to do more than 10 PPK credits have to write a thesis in the MA in ELT programme besides the portfolio required by the Pedagogy and Psychology Faculty of ELTE (ELTE PPK). Those required to do 10 or fewer only have to submit a portfolio.

  • Important point: Only one MA thesis is required even if the student pursues two MA level teaching degrees (15/2006. OM).

Writing a thesis involves a number of decisions for the student. The first important decision concerns the subject (major) in which the students wish to write their thesis. If the subject chosen is English (i.e., a subject area in the MA in ELT programme), the following regulations should be followed.


Getting supervision


A second choice that faces the students is that of a supervisor. The supervisor may come from the Faculty of Arts at ELTE (ELTE BTK) (from the Department of English Language Pedagogy (DELP) or the Department of English Applied Linguistics (DEAL) offering the MA in ELT programme) or ELTE PPK, but the thesis should be written in English and topics should be connected to ELT methodology or applied linguistics. Students are free to approach any member of staff; however, if a teacher already has too many supervisees, they will have to decline the request. If the supervisor is chosen from ELTE PPK, the topic must be approved by the Module Leader at DELP. In case the students cannot choose a supervisor or the requested supervisor cannot undertake supervision, a supervisor will be assigned by DELP.


Should the student find it necessary, they can request a new supervisor. Written appeals to the Module Leader for changing the consultant will be considered. The supervisor may also come from outside ELTE (e.g., a mentor or head teacher), but in this case the Module Leader must approve of the choice.


The supervisor will provide guidance in writing the MA thesis. They will offer the following support:

  • clarification of the topic and title of the thesis;

  • overseeing the writing of the thesis proposal;

  • discussion of the appropriate research questions;

  • suggestions for a reading list;

  • advice on possible approaches to the analysis;

  • advice on the writing process.

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Topics for the thesis


The students’ third choice is a thesis topic.


The thesis may be written on any topic relevant to the teaching of English (i.e., ELT methodology, applied linguistics, or areas of English studies focusing on teaching English). The thesis should demonstrate a systematic approach to analysis, either theoretical or empirical, which reflects a deeper understanding of the language teaching and learning process.


Below is a list of suggested thesis topics contributed by potential supervisors. The list is not comprehensive. It is indicative of what topics supervisors from DELP or DEAL thought they would want to offer in the MA in ELT programme. This list should not be treated as a list of titles as the title and the specific focus of the thesis should be the outcome of negotiation between the supervisor and supervisee.


Suggested topics

Supervision offered by

Pedagogical testing (educational measurement)

Dávid Gergely

Interlanguage/ Error analysis for teaching purposes

The role of teacher personality and methodology in ELT

Issues in Australian politics, history, and culture

Gall Cecilia

Australian film

Australian studies in/and Hungarian education

Teaching writing

Halápi Magdolna

Evaluating written and oral performance in the classroom

The English Matura examination

The role/practice of culture/intercultural communication in ELT

Holló Dorottya

Teaching presentation skills or debating in ELT

Analysing teaching materials


Károly Krisztina

Discourse analysis

Teaching English for specific purposes

Autonomous language learning

Kimmel Magdolna

Alternative assessment: portfolio assessment

The role of reflection in teacher development

The teaching and testing of listening

Király Zsolt

The teaching of pronunciation

Coursebook evaluation

Teaching EFL for intercultural communicative competence

Lázár Ildikó

Education for intercultural understanding in inclusive language classes

Cooperative learning, task-based learning, and alternative assessment

The cross-cultural experience

James Leavey

American academic writing

American language and culture

Using ICT tools in ELT

Major Éva

Online communication in ELT

The Hungarian Matura examination in EFL

English as the lingua franca

Medgyes Péter

Teaching the four language skills

Native and non-native teachers

Methodology of intercultural learning

Uwe Pohl

The role of English-speaking cultures in ELT

ELT Methodology

Looking at ELT classrooms

Révész Judit

Teacher effectiveness, teacher professionalism, stages of teacher development

The lexical view of language and its implications for classroom practice 

Professional development of ELT teachers

Christopher Ryan

Motivation and confidence among language learners

Use of L1/L2 by learners and teachers

Aspects of Englishness

Phil Saltmarsh

Beyond pop culture – The resource of music

Cultural shifts in 1960s Britain

The comparison of two translations of a book

Szabó Helga

Machine translation

Subtitling and dubbing

The use of ICT tools and online tasks in skills development

Szabó Éva

Developing language skills with the help of tasks for the interactive white board (IWB)

Coursebook analysis

Language acquisition

Szesztay Margit

The teacher as educator

Creativity in ELT

Language learning aptitude

Brózik-Piniel Katalin

Validity and reliability analysis of a particular language examination

The dynamics of individual differences in the foreign language classroom

EFL grammar

Dóczi Brigitta

EFL vocabulary

Task-based teaching

The role of L1 in language teaching

Illés Éva


Grammar and accuracy in language teaching

Translation in language teaching

Dyslexia and language learning

Kálmos Borbála

Dealing with errors in language learning

The struggling language learner: case studies in language learning difficulties

Using Web 2.0 in the language classroom.

Frank Prescott

Promoting autonomy in the language classroom.

Teaching writing in the 21st century.

Pedagogical stylistics as textual awareness-raising for students of English

Zerkowitz Judit

Landscapes in texts: stylistic indicators of place and time

Stylistic features of film adaptations of novels


Attention thesis writers!

The selected the thesis topic must be reviewed and approved by the supervisor and subsequently by the Module Leader. For a review of the selected thesis topic, the thesis writer should write a one-page statement of intent (synopsis) of the thesis. The statement of intent should contain

  1. what the provisional title of the thesis is
  2. how the thesis topic is relevant to English language teaching
  3. what specific questions will be researched
  4. how the research will be carried out (method)
  5. a list of preliminary readings   

An optional framework for the statement of intent can be downloaded from here.


  • The language of the thesis is English.


The extension of the BA thesis into an MA thesis

As a general rule, the MA thesis may not be a simple extension of the student’s BA thesis. However, if the topic and the approach allow for extending the student’s earlier research in a novel manner and in a way that promises gaining a considerably deeper understanding of it, the supervisor and the Module Leader may give special permission for this. The student will have to submit their BA thesis and the referee’s review to the supervisor when starting the consultations about the MA thesis topic.


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Starting procedures: selecting/ registering a topic; deadlines

·   The thesis writer must select and submit the topic of their MA thesis along with the synopsis prior to writing the thesis.

·   General deadlines:

For specific deadlines of the current term, please check the Noticeboard.



Statement of Intent (proposal)  to be signed by the supervisor and coordinator (szakfelelős) or deputy at DELP

Who to turn to for the coordinator's (szakfelelős) signature at DELP

Submission deadline of the Official Thesis Proposal form  (címbejelentő) at the Registrar (TH)

Thesis submission deadline at the Registrar (TH)


Major Éva



(semester before thesis submission)



*Please note that our internal deadline is aligned with the deadlines of other theses administered by DELP in order to distribute supervision evenly among colleagues. 


The Official Thesis Proposal Form for MA in ELT Theses can be downloaded from:



·   The topic must be approved first by the supervisor and then approved and registered by the Module Leader.

·   Following the submission at the department, the topic is to be submitted to PPK. This document is downloadable from here: http://www.ppk.elte.hu/tanulmanyi/mesterszak/szakdolgozat 

·   For those students who have to do more than 10 PPK credits, the portfolio cannot be submitted without submitting the MA thesis.

·   An overview of the procedures and deadlines can be found here:



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Formal requirements


The length of the thesis should be between 75 000 and 80 000 characters (without spaces) with a +10% margin being allowed.  The length refers to the body of the thesis, i.e., not including appendices, the title page, declarations, table of contents, references, etc. The layout should be single or double sided A4 pages in Times New Roman 12pt font with 1.5 line spacing and 2.5 cm margins on three sides and 3 cms at the gutter. The text following these specifications will normally be 40 pages (+ max.10%).


Citation and referencing should conform to the APA guidelines.


The samples in these links can be used for the outside and inside cover of the thesis.



Thesis content


The thesis should be an independent piece of research. The aim of conducting research and writing a research paper is to find and present the solution to a problem related to a particular field of enquiry, English language teaching in our case. The quality of the research should be supported by the use of an appropriate analytical framework and argumentation. Overall, the thesis should demonstrate an enhanced awareness of within the field.


There are two main types of research papers: empirical and theoretical. Empirical research aims to explore an issue, generate or test hypotheses, through gathering and analysing primary data (i.e. data gained by observation, through interviews, questionnaires, discourse analysis, thematic analysis, etc.). The focus of empirical research can be on behaviour (e.g. teacher, student or school practices, actions, cognitive processes, perceptions, etc.) or products (various types of student output, texts, films, pieces of art, etc.) Empirical research has two main types: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research studies an individual case or a limited number of cases closely with the purpose of exploring or understanding the particular phenomenon/phenomena from the perspective of the participants, including the researcher. Quantitative studies usually take an outsider's perspective and involve a sufficient number of participants or samples so that the findings might provide generalisations about the behaviour of the population or product investigated.


Below are a few examples for questions that can be researched through empirical research in the field of ELT:

  • What kinds of mistakes do elementary learners make when learning the simple present?

  • How do teachers see the role of reading skills in the English classroom?

  • How can content-based instruction improve the effectiveness of communication in a foreign language?

  • Does the use of ICT in ELT increase the learners’ motivation?


An empirical research project applies various research tools, preferably a combination of the following:

  • Questionnaires

  • Interviews

  • Observation

  • Diaries, journals

  • Tests

  • Discourse analysis

  • Spoken interaction analysis

  • Verbal reports

  • Analysis of methods, experiments

  • Thematic and content analysis


Theoretical research usually intends to add new angles to or improve already existing theories or conceptual frameworks of particular issues. It may also present completely new theories or solutions for particular problems. It therefore works with already existing theories, data and research results and uses these secondary data to synthesise the literature and offer an original solution of the problem. Research should involve, for example, establishing new logical connections between various phenomena, in defining a problematic or ambiguous issue, in (re)interpreting educational or social issues in their historical context.


Below are a few examples of questions that can be researched through theoretical research in the field of ELT:

  • How do existing constructs contribute to identifying the elements of test-taking skills?

  • How does short-term memory influence language learning in young and mature learners?

  • What element is missing from the models of communicative competence established so far?

  • How can the simplification of the issue of the ‘Stolen Generation’ in Australia be justified for the purposes of ELT?


The main aim of a theoretical thesis is to show various treatments of the particular problem and to provide a new or more complex understanding of the issue. The paper starts with the comparison of what different authors have said about the same topic, that is, a survey of the relevant literature arranged into some logical framework created by the writer. The overview should be critical, and should be followed by an argumentative proposal of the writer's own opinion and solution of the problem. The author does not use a database gathered for this research, but relies on already existing materials, and uses data creatively to illustrate certain points.



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The structure of the thesis: an empirical research paper


Preliminary pages: title page, a certificate of originality, and a table of contents, which includes the chapters of the paper and also the materials in the Appendices.


Abstract: A short summary detailing the purpose, the relevance, the approach and the results of the paper (100 - 150 words).


Introduction: This should introduce the reader to the specific issue under analysis and describe the research approach/strategy. The introduction should:

  • specify the point/topic of the study

  • explain why the topic is relevant/interesting

  • explain how the analysis relates to the problem

  • specify the exact research questions/hypotheses

  • explain how the study relates to previous work in the field and how it is expected to benefit the profession

  • preview the structure/chapters of the thesis

Review of the literature: The purpose of the review is to develop the background, that is, to discuss the relevant literature in order to give the reader knowledge of the field (specifically relating to the research question), which the writer is researching. Ultimately, this part of the thesis should inform the reader of the theoretical and experiential basis of the research.

The review of literature must:

  • define the key terms and concepts,

  • describe relevant theories

  • present earlier research concerning the issue.

The literature review can be organized around concepts or the chronology of earlier research but in any case must be focused to suit the purposes of the research. It should be a very thorough and well-structured overview, presented on the basis of an original organising principle. That is, the writer has to make a unique presentation of the existing literature on the topic. This means, for instance, that a mere summary of what different authors have said about the same topic does not constitute a proper review of the literature. Earlier research results should be evaluated and related to the purpose of the current research. A good overview is relevant, looks at all the aspects of the given topic, uses a minimum of 15 serious reliable and relevant academic sources, and presents the topic in a new light. As regards materials downloaded from the Internet, only sources that have an author and publication data will normally be accepted. The use of other documents, without an author or publication data, for example, has to be justified.


Research design and method: The Introduction and the Review of the literature are typically followed by a section in which the writer describes in detail how the analysis was conducted, that is, the technical aspects of the study. There is room for variation depending on the qualitative or quantitative nature of the thesis. This chapter should include consideration of the following:


  • Research Question(s) (What questions arise based on the lit. rev. and the researcher’s focus/interest?)

  • The approach of the research (qualitative or quantitative)

  • Reference to earlier research to justify the approach and methods.

  • Description of the methods of data collection: What? Why? How?

  • Setting (a description of the context, e.g. the place, general and specific background, etc.)

  • Participants or set of materials (texts) analysed (rationale for selection, variables,)

  • Procedures (What happened, how long did the processes last?)

  • Instruments (questionnaires, interviews, observation protocol, diaries, document analysis, framework for discourse analysis, retrospection, etc.)

  • Methods of data analysis – description of procedures and methods

  • Quality of research (validity, reliability, generalisability / credibility, trustworthiness, transferability)

  • Limitations

The use of the particular methods must be justified. In the justification, reference must be made to literature on research methodology. A good method section describes the procedures in such a detailed way that anyone wishing to replicate the study would be able to do so. All the data collection materials (e.g., questionnaires, interview protocols, tasks, observation sheets) need to be exemplified in the appendix. If a data collection instrument is not in English it has to be translated into English and included in the appendix. (N.B. Following research conventions and common sense, if the mother tongue of the researcher and the participant(s) is the same, interviews and questionnaires are conducted in the mother tongue even if the research is to be written up in English in order to cut down on possible distortions caused by the use of a foreign language.)


Results and discussion: The Results section will normally contain the data collected (summarised if appropriate) and the results of the analysis, which will detail and justify the conclusion. This section is often merged together with the discussion section, which includes the writer's discussion (i.e. explanation and interpretation) of the results with respect to the original questions/hypotheses and the consequence of the results. Overall, this part of the thesis should demonstrate an enhanced awareness of the field.


Conclusion: This section briefly summarizes the main findings of the analysis, analysis and applies them to the original question(s), discusses possible alternative interpretations and views, examines the pedagogical implications (where appropriate), mentions the limitations of the research and proposes directions for future investigations. All the conclusions have to be drawn on the basis of the data, and not subjective speculations.


References: In this section the writer lists all the references that were cited in the texts (and only those!). See our website on APA citation guidelines for details.


Appendices: The following materials are appropriate for an appendix: questionnaires, interview questions, observation schedules, information brochures, handouts, teaching materials used or designed, raw data, visual aids, scales, tests, less important tables or figures, practical examples, or other kinds of illustrative materials. The appendix needs to contain a short sample of the data (e.g., filled in questionnaires, transcript of interviews, parts of texts produced by the participants). Any material in Hungarian must be translated into English. All the other data have to be made available upon request.


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The structure of the thesis: a theoretical thesis paper


Theoretical thesis papers usually follow an argumentative pattern and are organised around the solution of a problem. Questions that are normally addressed in such papers include:

What is the point/topic of the study?

Why is this topic interesting/relevant?

What has been done in the field so far?

Is there any problem with/Is there something missing from what has been done/said so far?

What is the problem with/What is missing from what has been done/said?

What solution may be offered?

Why is this solution good, or not so good?


Depending on the nature of the problem, such papers may be structured in different ways. A typical pattern of organisation is presented below:


Preliminary pages:  title page, a certificate of originality, and a table of contents, which includes the chapters of the paper and also the materials in the Appendices.


Abstract: A short summary detailing the purpose, the relevance, the approach and the results of the paper (100 - 150 words).


Introduction: The introduction normally starts by introducing the subject of the paper and its relevance, that is, the reason why it is considered as an interesting issue to explore. This is followed by the statement of the problem related to the issue (i.e., the situation presented) and the author's position regarding the solution of this problem. The exact aim of the paper and the main research question(s) should be clearly formulated. (In theoretical papers, research questions relate to finding possible solutions to the problem.) The introduction generally ends with a brief overview of the analytical approach/strategy to be pursued and the outline of the thesis.


Review of literature: The aim of the literature review is to provide theoretical background to the solution of the problem anticipated in the introduction. It offers a critical review of the various treatments of the problem under investigation, enumerating arguments representing the body of literature both opposing and supporting the author's position. The survey should be organized into a logical framework invented by the writer. Ultimately, this part of the thesis should inform the reader of the theoretical and experiential basis of the research.


Analysis (Solution): The analysis (i.e., solution) section offers a thorough and disciplined presentation of the possible solution(s) as envisaged by the writer. It should build upon the work of other researchers in the field, but authors are expected to come up with an original solution. All arguments/claims put forward by the author must be accompanied by some form of supporting evidence (e.g., examples, figures, facts, views of other researchers). The criteria of the analysis (e.g. the set of concepts along which the issue is examined) and the choice of earlier research to be included in the study must be explained and justified. This section ends with an evaluation of the proposed solution(s), showing that it is (or they are) exempt from the weaknesses identified in the opposing view(s). This section is often not presented in a single chapter but in several chapters reflecting the concepts of the framework of the analysis.


Conclusion: Theoretical papers normally end by a restatement of the problem under investigation and a brief summary of the proposed solution(s) discussed. In the conclusion section, authors may indicate in what ways the study contributes to current achievements in the field, examine the pedagogical implications (where appropriate), refer to the limitations of the paper, and point to possible areas for further investigation.


References: See empirical research papers.


Appendices: See empirical research papers.



Suggested length/proportion of chapters


The review of the literature should typically be around one quarter of the total length of the thesis. The research design and method section will typically be around one quarter of the total length of the complete thesis. The results and discussion section should be around one half of the complete thesis.

 (Based on Swales, J.M., & Feak, C.B. (1994). Academic Writing for Graduate Students. Ann Arbour: The University of Michigan Press.)


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Submission of the thesis

  • The deadline for submitting the MA in ELT thesis is 20th April or 20th November in the semester the student wishes to conclude their studies.

  • The thesis is to be submitted in two printed and bound copies, plus one copy in an electronic (PDF) format. One of the printed copies is to be submitted to ELTE BTK (TO) and the other one to the Pedagogikum Központ OTF at ELTE PPK. The electronic submission is to be made through an electronic system, to be specifically developed for this purpose. The copy handed in to ELTE PPK will be filed.

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The assessment of the thesis


The assessment of the thesis is the responsibility of ELTE BTK. The thesis is double marked by the assessor and the supervisor. The assessment of the thesis will be based on a set of analytical set of criteria that focus on the following features:

  • The quality of research (research methods and procedures, focus, analytical framework, etc.)

  • The theoretical and experiential basis of the research (quality and number of sources, familiarity with the literature, synthesis of knowledge and skills, etc.)

  • Interpretation of findings (implications, enhanced awareness, etc.)

  • Independence (contribution to the field, originality, etc.)

  • Quality of writing (structuring, argumentation, etc.)

  • Quality of language (accuracy and range of English)

  • Formal requirements (layout, citation conventions, length)


The scores are converted to a mark on the familiar 1 to 5 scale.

The document containing the rating scales is available here.


  • As part of the final examination for the MA in ELT programme, the thesis writer has to defend the thesis in front of a committee.


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[1] Parts of this document are based on the MA Thesis requirements and regulations for papers related to Culture, Language and Communication Studies in the British Culture and History track of the MA in English Programme





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