Caroline Clapham IELTS Masters Award

Awarded by the IELTS founders (British Council, IDP IELTS, and Cambridge English), this annual award celebrates the Master's-level thesis which makes the most significant contribution to the field of language testing.

The £1000 prize is given in memory of Caroline Clapham, recognising her contribution to IELTS and the wider field of language testing.

To be eligible, theses must have been written as part of a Master's degree or its equivalent, and must be supported by a letter from the applicant's academic supervisor. The work should be focused on language testing, but need not be IELTS-related.

Submissions are reviewed and evaluated by the IELTS Joint Research Committee using the criteria set out below. The Committee’s decision is final and we reserve the right not to make an award.

The award is usually presented at a major language testing event during the following year. The winner’s attendance at this event will be sponsored by the IELTS Partners.

Previous award winners

Year Winner Location
2023Shanshan He - Exploring the Use of Interactive Videos in an L2 Listening TestWestern University, Canada
2022Juliana Bahia – An investigation of a speaking rating scale developed for the revised Interagency Language Roundtable frameworkLancaster University, UK
2021 Svetlana Mazhurnaya – A comparative investigation of the interactional profile of convergent and deviant cases across proficiency levels in a paired EAP oral test. Lancaster University, UK
2021 (Highly commended) Catherine Hughes – Exploring and analysing rater perceptions of linguistic proficiency when making holistic judgements of extended speech and the specific factors contributing to these judgements. Lancaster University, UK
2020Alina Carastoian Reid – Cognitive Authenticity and Cognitive Complexity in Multi-text Integrated Reading-into-writing Summary Tasks. Lancaster University, UK
2019Dylan Burton – ‘Raters’ Perceptions and Operationalization of Authentic Engagement in Oral Proficiency Tests. Lancaster University, UK
2018Chi Lai Tsang – Examining Washback on Learning from a Sociocultural Perspective: The Case of a Graded Approach to English Language Testing in Hong Kong. University College London, UK
2017Martin Stark – Exploring the relationship between automated analyses of linguistic features and human ratings of test-taker performances on an ESL writing task. Lancaster University, UK
2016David Wei Dai – The effect of including non-native accents in English listening tests for young learners: psychometric and learner perspectives. University of Melbourne, Australia
2015Hyunjin 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
2014Lorraine Briegel-Jones – An investigation into nonverbal behaviour in the oral proficiency interview. Newcastle University, UK
2013Benjamin Kremmel – Explaining Variance in Reading Test Performance through Linguistic Knowledge. Lancaster University, UK
2012Veronika 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
2011Kellie Frost – Investigating the validity of an integrated listening-speaking task: A discourse-based analysis of test takers’ oral performances. The University of Melbourne, Australia
2010Thom 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 effects of reducing the number of options per item on the quality of a multiple-choice reading test. Lancaster University, UK
2009Ruslan 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
2008Susan 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
2007Talia Isaacs – Towards defining a valid assessment criterion of pronunciation proficiency in non-native English speaking graduate students. McGill University, Canada
2006Youn-Hee Kim – An investigation into variability of tasks and teacher-judges in second language oral performance assessment (L2 oral performance). McGill University, Canada
2005Fumiyo Nakatsuhara – An investigation into Conversational styles in paired speaking tests (CAE). University of Essex, UK
2004No award made
2003Eunice Eunhee Jang – In search of folk fairness in language testing (TOEFL). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
2002No award made
2001Sang-Keun Shin – An exploratory study of the construct validity of timed essay tests (L2 learners). University of California at Los Angeles, USA
2000Sally O’Hagan – Assessment of student essays: Methods of marking work written by students from non-English speaking backgrounds (ESL). University of Melbourne, Australia
2000Lindsay Brooks – Adult ESL attitudes towards performance-based assessment (ESL). OISE/University of Toronto, Canada

How to apply

For the 2024 award, dissertations will only be eligible if they were submitted and approved by your university in 2023. Dissertations completed in 2024 may be submitted the following year.

Dissertations will only be considered eligible if they were submitted and approved by your university in 2024. Dissertations completed in 2025 may be submitted the following year.

Submissions should be for dissertations written in partial or total fulfilment of the requirements for a Master's 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 abstract, Introduction, Review, and Method chapters.
  3. A reference sent directly by your supervisor. Electronic submissions are preferred.

Tony Clark
IELTS Research
Cambridge English
Shaftesbury Road
Cambridge CB2 8EA
United Kingdom

Evaluation of submissions

The IELTS Research Committee reviews submissions and shortlists potential award winners. Those shortlisted must provide a full copy of their dissertation, and a further reference may be sought.

Evaluation 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.


Date Timeline
30 June Deadline for submission of dissertation extracts and supervisor's reference to Cambridge English.
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 winner.