Re-aligning a Pre-Masters Programme
(Graduate Diploma in English for
Postgraduate Study) – The Challenges
Fiona Nimmo
Programme Coordinator (ELT)
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
E-mail: [email protected]
Graduate Diploma in English for Postgraduate Study
 Full-time; nine-month University accredited Level 4
(National Qualification Framework Level 6) Pre-Masters
programme
 Originally intended for students wishing to study
Masters courses at the University of Strathclyde
Business School
 Attracts students from all subject disciplines (Master &
PhD)
Agreed actions:
 Minimum entry level set at IELTS 5.0 or equivalent
(IELTS 5.5 in April, 2011- UKBA)
 Course content to relate to students’ future studies
 Coursework assessments and examinations reduced
and integrated to avoid overlap
 Writing descriptors linked to learning outcomes
 Writing descriptors designed to reflect CEFR, UCLES,
IELTS, TOEFL iBT, and University of Strathclyde
assessment descriptors
The original design comprised 120 credits (12 x 10),
divided into three Units and spread over three terms.
 Unit One - English Language Skills (Gen Eng),
Reading and Writing Skills (Gen Eng), English for
Academic Purposes, Effective Study Skills
 Unit Two - Academic Reading/Listening, Academic
Writing, Speaking & Listening in Specific Academic
Contexts, Study Skills for Postgraduate Study
 Unit Three - Academic Speaking, IELTS Preparation,
British Life and Institutions, Postgraduate Study Project
Re-aligned programme = 6 classes (6 x 20 credits),
divided into 3 Units, spread over 3 terms
 Unit One – EAP 1, Study Skills for Postgraduate Study
 Unit Two – EAP 2, Speaking & Listening in Specific
Academic Contexts
 Unit Three – EAP 3, Postgraduate Study Project
Assessment integration
Effective Study Skills
(Unit 1)
Study Skills for Postgraduate
Study
(Unit 2)
Study Skills for
Postgraduate Study
(Unit 1)
Vocabulary Log (20%)
(Moved to EAP 1)
Individual Learning Plan (10%)
Individual Learning Plan
(10%)
Role-play (20%)
(Dropped)
Reflective Essay (10%)
Reflective Essay (20%)
Information Research Project
(40%)
Academic Report (50%)
(Overlap ESS)
Information Research
Project (70%)
Open Books Exam (30%)
(Moved to EAP 3)
Summary Skills Exam (30%)
(Overlap EAP 1)
Less than half the volume of
exams -greater emphasis
placed on Information
Research project
Red = dropped from programme
Blue = moved or changed in terms of weighting
Equivalency table
IELTS
CEFR,
UCLES
(Main
Suite)
9.0
8.0
C2,
C1 (8.0),
CAE (E), CAE (B),
CPE (B) CPE (W)
7.0
C1,
CAE (B),
CPE (W)
6.0-6.5
5.5
B2,
B2,
FCE (B), FCE (B),
CAE (W) CAE (W)
4.0
3.0
B1,
PET (B),
FCE (W)
A2,
KET (B),
PET (W)
C2 (8.5),
CAE (E),
CPE (B)
TOEFL
iBT
110+
110+
110
90
87
57
39
Strath
70+
60-69
50-59
40-49
30-39
20-29
1-19
E = Exceptional
B = Borderline
W = Weak
UKBA, 2011
Postgraduate Study Project Learning Outcomes
Task Achievement/
Response

demonstrate the
skills of rapidly
identifying key
issues, analysing in
depth a topic or
question and
producing a
sustained and
coherent argument

engage critically
with sources and be
able to incorporate
information and
ideas from primary
and secondary
sources in their own
academic writing
Organisation,
Cohesion &
Coherence

produce clear,
well structured
text on
complex
subjects,
showing
controlled use
of
organisational
patterns,
connectors
and cohesive
devices
Language

demonstrate the
ability to write in
language which is
accurate, fluent
and which shows
an appropriate
sensitivity to
nuances of style
and register
Presentation

follow academic
convention using
appropriate
citations and
referencing
CEFR
IELTS
UCLES
TOEFL iBT,
Argument
Task
Achievement
&
Response
Content &
Target Reader
Task
Achievement
&
Response
Knowledge &
Understanding
1. Task
Achievement/Response
(knowledge &
understanding of subject,
logical, well-developed
response)
Overall &
Coherence
Coherence
& Cohesion
Organisation
&
Communication
Organisation
& Coherence
Communication
2. Organisation,
Cohesion & Coherence
(text organisation, use of
connectors and cohesive
devices, paragraphing,
presence of introduction
& conclusion)
Range &
Accuracy
Grammatical
Accuracy,
Lexical
Resource
Appropriacy of
Register
& Range
Accuracy
Accuracy
3. Language
(fluency, accuracy &
appropriacy of language,
register, grammar, range
of vocabulary)
Presentation &
Referencing
4. Presentation
(layout, spelling,
punctuation, ability to
follow academic
convention)
Lexical
Resource
(spelling)
Strathclyde
Final Assessment
Language Descriptors
CEFR B2 = ‘has a sufficient range of language’, ‘can make a distinction between
formal and informal language with occasional less appropriate expressions’, ‘shows
a relatively high degree of grammatical control’, ‘does not make errors which cause
misunderstandings’
IELTS 6.0-6.5 = ‘uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task’ and ‘makes
some errors in grammar but they rarely reduce communication’
UCLES FCE (Borderline), CAE (Weak) = ‘an adequate range of vocabulary’, ‘a
number of errors may be present, but they do not impede communication’, and ‘a
reasonable, if not always successful, attempt is made at register’
TOEFL iBT 90 = ‘inconsistent facility in word choice may result in lack of clarity and
occasionally obscure meaning’ and ‘accurate but limited range of syntactical
structures and vocabulary.’ (Independent Writing Rubrics)
University of Strathclyde 40-49 = ‘adequate demonstration of learning outcomes’
Final language descriptor:
Has generally effective command of language despite
some inaccuracies and/or inappropriacies. Register is
generally appropriate for the task. Uses a sufficient
range of vocabulary. Where unfamiliar language
structures are used there may be some inaccuracies in
word choice and collocation. Can use and understand
fairly complex language structures, particularly in
familiar situations. Some syntactical and grammatical
errors but these rarely detract from the overall meaning.
F. Nimmo (2011)
Summary
 Minimum entry level was set at IELTS 5.5 or equivalent
 Course content now relates to students’ future studies
 Coursework assessments and examinations were reduced and
integrated to avoid overlap
 Writing descriptors were linked to learning outcomes
 Writing descriptors were designed to reflect CEFR, UCLES, IELTS,
TOEFL iBT, and University of Strathclyde assessment descriptors
 The process is transferable to other, similar courses
The descriptors can be seen as a ‘work in progress’ - regularly updated
and re-designed in light of University of Strathclyde and UKBA regulations,
and in light of student, staff, and external examiner feedback
Fiona Nimmo, Programme Co-ordinator (ELT)
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Strathclyde
26 Richmond Street
Livingstone Tower
Glasgow G1 1XH
Scotland
Tel: + 44 (0)141 548 5801/3065
Fax: + 44 (0) 141 553 4122