Portrait of Dr Susan Sheehan Dr Susan Sheehan

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s.sheehan@hud.ac.uk | 01484 478144



Qualifications: EdD, MA, FHEA, TCLD, PGDip TESOL, BA (Hons)

Susan came to the University of Huddersfield in September 2013 as senior Lecturer in TESOL.

Susan began her career in TESOL teaching in Naples. She then worked as a Research Assistant to an Italian University Professor. Her interest in the academic side of TESOL developed and she obtained an MA in TESOL from Sheffield Hallam University. Whilst studying for her Masters Susan joined the British Council. She initallly worked as a teacher and then went on to become a teacher trainer as a DELTA course tutor. Susan also worked as an IELTS examiner. Whilst working for the British Council at the Milan teaching centre Susan studied for her Doctorate in Applied Linguistics and TESOL from the University of Bristol. Her research focused on the CEFR and this remains one of her key research areas.

In 2005 Susan returned to the UK and became ELT Testing Manager for the British Council. She managed the development of a new placement test for the network of British Council. Following the successful completion of this project Susan moved into managerial roles which focused on developing and promoting research. She also undertook research projects. The most notable of which is the Core Inventory of General English, written with Brian North and Angeles Ortega. This book describes an approach to translating the CEFR into classroom activity. Susan edited numerous academic papers for publication by the British Council and the first volume of the Research papers series.

Research and Scholarship

Susan's primary research interests are in the field of testing, evaluation and assessment. She has a particular interest in the Common European Framework of Reference. She is also interested in the learner autonomy and teacher development.

Susan has undertaken and overseen a large number of research projects for the British Council. These include internal projects such as the scoping and development of a new placement test for the British Council network of teaching centres. An example of an external research project is the Core Inventory of General English. Working with Dr Brian North Susan developed the Inventory which translates Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels into classroom activity. Susan supervised numerous research projects and published the research reports.

In addition to publishing individual research papers Susan has co-written or edited the following books:

  • 2013 British Council ELT Research Papers Volume 1 (ed Susan Sheehan) British Council
  • 2011 Teacher Development and Education in Context (ed Susan Sheehan) British Council
  • 2010 British Council - EAQUALS Core Inventory for General English Brian North, Angela Ortega and Susan Sheehan, British Council
  • 2008 Global Citizenship in the English Language Classroom (eds Telma Gimenez and Susan Sheehan) British Council

Susan has obtained funding for three of her research projects.  An Apits Research Grant was awarded for a project entitled ‘Identifying key criteria of written and spoken English at C1’. An ELTRA grant was awarded for a project entitled ‘Assessment literacy – what do teachers want to know?’.  A second ELTRA grant was awarded for a project entitled ‘Classroom assessment: the development of teachers’ cognitions’.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Sheehan, S. and Berry, V. (2017) ‘Beyond surveys: An approach to understanding effective classroom assessment practices’. In: Building Practical Assessment Skills for Teachers, 29-29 October 2017, Luton

Berry, V., Sheehan, S. and Munro, S. (2017) ‘Exploring Teachers’ Language Assessment Literacy: A Social Constructivist Approach to Understanding Effective Practices’. In: ALTE 6th International Conference - Learning and Assessment: Making the Connections, 3-5 May 2017, Bologna, Italy , pp. 201-207

Munro, S. and Sheehan, S. (2017) ‘Assessment: attitudes, practices and needs.’. In: British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL 2017): Diversity in Applied Linguistics - Opportunities, Challenges, Questions, 31 Aug - 2 Sept 2017, University of Leeds

Sheehan, S (2017) ‘Book Review: 'Assessment and autonomy in language learning', Carol J. Everhard, Linda Murphy (Eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2015), 238ppSystem . ISSN 0346-251X

Berry, V., Sheehan, S. and Munro, S. (2017) ‘Mind the gap – bringing teachers into the language literacy debate’. In: 39th Language Testing Research Colloquium, 19–21 July 2017, Universidad de los Andes, Las Aguas, Bogotá, Colombia

Sheehan, S. and Munro, S. (2017) ‘Assessment: attitudes, practices, needs’. In: BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG 2017, 6-7 July 2017, University of Central Lancashire, Preston

Berry, V., Sheehan, S. and Munro, S.(2017) Assessment: attitudes, practices and needs. British Council .

Berry, V. and Sheehan, S. (2017) ‘Exploring teachers’ language assessment literacy: a social constructivist approach to understanding effective practice’. In: ALTE 6th International Conference - Learning and Assessment: Making the Connections, 3th-5th May 2017, Bologna, Italy

Berry, V., Sheehan, S. and Munro, S. (2017) ‘What do teachers really want to know about assessment?’. In: 51st Annual International IATEFL Conference, 4th-7th April 2017, Glasgow, UK

Sheehan, S. and Munro, S. (2017) Assessment: attitudes, practices and needs British Council

Sheehan, S., Harris, A. and Sanderson, P. (2017) Identifying key criteria of written and spoken English at C1: A qualitative study of key language points at C1 British Council


Sheehan, S., Berry, V. and Munro, S. (2016) ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet? What language assessment literacy means to teachers’. In: Language Assessment Literacy symposium, 16-17 September 2016, Lancaster University

Sheehan, S (2016) ‘Defining Criterial Approaches at C1: an approach’. In: BAAL 2016 Taking stock of Applied Linguistics: Where are we now?, 1-3 September 2016, Anglia Ruskin University

Sheehan, S (2016) ‘What to test at C1?’. In: EALTA 13th Annual Conference 2016, 5th - 8th May 2016, Valencia, Spain


Sheehan, S (2013) ‘The CEFR : an approach to translating it for the classroom’. In: BAAL 2013 Conference : 46th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics: Opening New Lines of Communication in Applied Linguistics, 5-7th September 2013, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Sheehan, S (2013) ‘A core curriculum inventory for general English’. In: Language Testing in Europe: Time for a New Framework?, 27-29th May 2013, University of Antwerp

Sheehan, S (2013) ‘Finding excellence in research’. In: 47th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition, 8-12th April 2013, Liverpool

Sheehan, S (2013) British Council ELT Research Papers . : British Council. ISBN 9780863556982


Sheehan, S (2012) ‘Bridging the gap between teachers and research’. In: BAAL 2012 Conference : 45th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics: Multilingual Theory and Practice in Applied Linguistics, 6-8th September 2012, University of Southampton

Sheehan, S (2012) ‘Does self-assessment promote learner autonomy?’. In: NATESOL Teachers’ Conference 2012 : ‘How do we know the roots are growing? Testing, evaluation and assessment in second language learning’, 9th June 2012, Salford City College


Sheehan, S (2011) ‘What to teach and assess from A1 to C1’. In: Putting the CEFR to good use. : IATEFL. pp. 92-95. ISBN 9781901095371

Sheehan, S (2011) Teacher Development and Education in Context: A Selection of Papers Presented at IATEFL 2010 by the British Council . : British Council. ISBN 9780863556555


Sheehan, S (2010) ‘The British Council/EAQUALS core curriculum inventory - the core of English taught at CEFR levels A1 to C1’. In: Language Testing Forum 2010 : 30 years of LTF: Issues in Language Testing Revisited, 19-21st November 2010, Lancaster University

Sheehan, S (2010) ‘CEFR and the curriculum : how can one inform the other?’. In: 44th IATEFL Annual International Conference and Exhibition, 7-11th April 2010, Harrogate

Sheehan, S (2010) ‘A global standard - placement testing at British Council teaching centres’. In: Recent approaches to teaching and assessing speaking. : IATEFL. . ISBN 9781901095319


Sheehan, S (2009) ‘The international language assessment : developing a new test for the British Council’. In: 5th South Caucasus English Language Teachers’ Conference: New Educational Horizons in English Language Teaching, 15-17 May 2009, Gudauri, Georgia

Sheehan, S (2009) ‘Teachers : how technology can ensure their voice is heard’. In: 43rd International Annual IATEFL Conference and Exhibition, 31st March - 4th April 2009, City Hall, Cardiff


Sheehan, S (2008) ‘Making progress real for students’. In: British Association of Applied Linguists Annual Conference BAAL, 11-13th September 2008, Swansea University

Sheehan, S (2008) ‘Does self assessment promote learner autonomy’. In: 42nd International Annual IATEFL Conference and Exhibition, 7-11th April 2008, Exeter University

Sheehan, S (2008) Global citizenship in the English language classroom . : British Council.


Susan is the local organiser of Language Testing Forum 2017.

She is a committee member of BAAL TEASIG.

Research Degree Supervision

Teaching and Professional Activities

Susan is Course Leader for BA TESOL and Education.  She is also Course Leader for the BA TESOL (top up) and BA TESOL and Younger Learners (top up).  She is module leader for TESOL and Young Learners on the MA TESOL course.