IELTS | Researchers - Caroline Clapham IELTS Masters Award


As part of the tenth anniversary of IELTS in 1999, the IELTS partners - British Council, IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment - established an annual award of £1,000 for the Master's-level dissertation or thesis in English which makes the most significant contribution to the field of language testing. In 2010, the award was renamed after Caroline Clapham in recognition of her contributions to IELTS in particular and language testing in general.

Each year the IELTS Research Committee, comprising members of the three partner organisations, reviews submissions for the award and shortlists potential winners. Submissions must be for a dissertation/thesis written in partial or total fulfilment of the requirements for a Master's degree or its equivalent, and must be supported by a letter from the applicant's academic supervisor. The work should be language testing focused but need not be IELTS-related.

Submissions are reviewed and evaluated by the IELTS Research Committee according to a set timetable and established criteria. The Committee reserves the right not to make an award at its sole discretion, and its decision is final.

The award is normally presented in public at a major language testing event during the following year, e.g. at the annual Language Testing Research Colloquium (LTRC), and the IELTS partners sponsor the award winner's attendance at this event for this purpose.


Previous award winners


2015 Hyunjin Kim – ‘Teachers’ voices in the decision to discontinue a public examination reform’ University of Bristol, UK
2015 (Highly Commended) Saeede Haghi – ‘The role of visuals in listening tests for academic purposes University of Warwick, UK
2014 Lorraine Briegel-Jones – 'An investigation into nonverbal behaviour in the oral proficiency interview' Newcastle University, UK
2013 Benjamin Kremmel – ‘Explaining variance in reading test performance through linguistic knowledge’ Lancaster University, UK
2012 Veronika Timpe – ‘Strategic decoding of sociopragmatic utterances: A think-aloud validation study’ Lancaster University, UK
2012 (Highly commended) Anne-France Pinget  – ‘Native speakers’ perceptions of fluency and accent in L2 speech’ Utrecht University, Netherlands
2011 Kellie Frost – 'Investigating the validity of an integrated listening-speaking task: A discourse-based analysis of test takers’ oral performances' The University of Melbourne, Australia


Thom Kiddle – 'The effect of mode of response on a semi-direct test of oral proficiency'

Lancaster University, UK

2010 (Highly commended))

Gerard Seinhorst – 'Are three options better than four? Investigating the effect of reducing the number of options per item on the quality of a multiple-choice reading test'

Lancaster University, UK


Ruslan Suvorov – ‘Context visuals in L2 listening tests: The effectiveness of photographs and video vs. audio only format’

Iowa State University of Science and Technology, USA


Susan Clarke – ‘Investigating interlocutor input and candidate response on the IELTS speaking test: A systematic functional linguistics approach’

Macquarie University, Australia

2008 (Highly commended)

Kerry Ryan – ‘Assessing the OET: The nurse’s perspective'

University of Melbourne, Australia


Talia Isaacs – ‘Towards defining a valid assessment criterion of pronunciation proficiency in non-native English speaking graduate students’

McGill University, Canada


Youn-Hee Kim – ‘An investigation into variability of tasks and teacher-judges in second language oral performance assessment’

McGill University, Canada


Fumiyo Nakatsuhara – ‘An investigation into conversational styles in paired speaking tests’

University of Essex, UK


No award made


Eunice Eunhee Jang – ‘In search of folk fairness in language testing'

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA


No award made


Sang-Keun Shin – ‘An exploratory study of the construct validity of timed essay tests’

University of California at Los Angeles, USA


Sally O’Hagan – ‘Assessment of student essays: Methods of marking work written by students from non-English speaking backgrounds’

University of Melbourne, Australia


Lindsay Brooks – ‘Adult ESL attitudes towards performance-based assessment’

OISE/University of Toronto, Canada


Submission and evaluation procedures


Dissertations will only be considered eligible if they were submitted and approved by your university in 2015. Dissertations completed in 2016 will not be considered eligible for the 2016 award but may be submitted the following year.

Submissions should be for dissertations written in partial or total fulfilment of the requirements for a Masters degree or its equivalent. The dissertation should be language testing focused but need not be IELTS-related.

To apply, the following should be sent to the address below: (1) your contact details, (2) your dissertation, Introduction, Review, and Method chapters, and (3) a reference sent directly by your supervisor. Electronic submissions are preferred.

Dr Gad S Lim

Cambridge English Language Assessment
1 Hills Road
United Kingdom

The IELTS Research Committee will review the submissions and shortlist potential award winners. For all shortlisted submissions a full copy of the dissertation will be requested and a further reference may be sought.

Shortlisted dissertations will be reviewed and evaluated by the IELTS Research Committee according to the following criteria:

• Rationale for the research
• Contextualisation within the literature
• Feasibility of outcomes
• Design of research question(s)
• Choice and use of methodology
• Interpretation and conclusions
• Quality of presentation
• Use of references
• Contribution to the field
• Potential for future publication

The Committee's decision is final.


The following timetable will apply in 2016:


30 June Deadline for submission of dissertation extracts and supervisor's reference to the Cambridge English Language Assessment
31 August Deadline for submission of full copies of shortlisted dissertations (and further references if required)
October / November Meeting of IELTS Research Committee
November / December Announcement of Award

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