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The University of Southampton

LING3014 Language Testing and Assessment in Society

Module Overview

This module develops awareness of how language testing and assessment have developed in educational and wider social contexts. It focusses on both purposes and processes of language testing and assessment, and critically examines applications in policy areas such as education, employability, migration, and citizenship. It examines the issues involved in making judgements about language proficiency for these purposes. It also explores the theoretical foundations for making judgements in different settings, and the skills required by both testers and test-takers. In this module, you will have opportunities to consider aspects of the role of English as a global language, issues of social justice and equality of opportunity, and the development of digital technologies in language testing and assessment.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the purposes and traditions of language testing and assessment
  • the construct of communicative competence in language testing and assessment
  • validity and reliability aspects of language testing and assessment
  • the roles of assessment in education, work contexts, and migration and citizenship policies
  • the ways tests are constructed and administered
  • emerging issues in language testing and assessment
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • plan and organise your own learning schedule
  • work effectively in a team
  • prepare and deliver oral presentations
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use established and innovative strategies to evaluate tests and test frameworks
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate the quality of a given test or testing framework
  • identify social impacts of language testing processes
  • develop a critique of language testing policies and models


The module begins with practical engagement with a range of samples of language performance (spoken and written English), assessment of the performance for specific education, migration and citizenship contexts, and critical analysis of and reflection on the basis for assessments. In the light of this practical experience, the history of language testing and assessment, with particular reference to the case of English over recent decades, will be explored. This account will serve as a platform for critically examining a range of theoretical policy and practice issues: • The nature of communicative competence constructs which underpin language tests; • The relevance of communicative competence and language proficiency to different social policy fields; • The validity of the range of uses of language tests; • The features of language tests and their representativeness of capacities for effective communication; • The processes of making and standardising judgements on performances; • The attributes of language testers and assessors.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

A weekly lecture will provide an overview and a guide to the research and literature on for each topic. The weekly seminar will include a mix of practical tasks on tests and policy documents which reference tests (normally in the early weeks of the module) and student presentations (normally in the later weeks of the module).

Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Wider reading or practice20
Completion of assessment task26
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Extra, G., M. Spotti, P. Van Avermaet (2009). Language Testing, Migration and Citizenship - Cross-National Perspectives on Integration Regimes. 

Shohamy, E. (2001). The power of tests: A critical perspective of the uses of language tests.. 

McNamara, T and Roever, C (2007) (2007). Language Testing: The Social Dimension. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Group presentation  (30 minutes) 50%
Research essay  (3000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


No additional costs have been associated with this module

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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