SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

In-sessional Academic English Support 2015-16


To help non-native English-speaking students achieve their full academic potential we provide In-sessional academic English and study skills courses and one-to-one tutorials throughout the academic year. These are non-credit bearing and free of charge. In-sessional means that you study alongside your regular academic subjects, as opposed to Pre-sessional which are courses designed to be studied in advance of entry into your academic subjects.

If you  have been given an In-sessional requirement or recommendation and would like to find out more about how these assessment are made, please see further details regarding assessments.

Please note that from September 2016 entry while some Postgraduate, Undergraduate and Study Abroad students have recommendations, some Doctoral school students have requirements. Recommendations are given on the basis of there being a recognition that the student needs English or skills support in a particular area. Doctoral school students have a requirement as fulfilment of the In-sessional requirement is a condition of progression from MPhil status to Phd status.

In-sessional Orientation course

For 2016 September entry an In-sessional orientation course will be held for those with English entry levels which are slightly lower than those for direct entry with regular In-sessional courses, but higher than what is required for Pre-sessional courses; and secondly for those who have been assessed as having more than two regular In-sessional recommendations or requirements. As you will be very busy with your academic subjects doing more than two In-sessional courses may not be desirable for some students.

The In-sessional orientation course will take place during Welcome week (26th-30th September 2016) and consist of a number of classes, free of charge, in academic skills such as essay writing, listening to lectures, reading and notetaking, speaking in seminars and other skills needed to succeed at SOAS.

Depending on how students perform on this course they may be given additional Insessional recommendations for further Academic English and study skills study at SOAS.

In-sessional Academic English Courses

The in-sessional courses consist of one 2-hour lesson a week during term time. They take the form of short 4 or 5-week courses either side of Reading Week, or longer 9 or 10 week courses running for the whole term or through two terms. 

They usually have a skills focus which allows students to concentrate on the areas of English that are most in need of improvement. The courses are also designed around academic contexts to add relevance to the skills practice, e.g. lecture skills, seminar skills, essay writing skills, reading and note-taking skills.

Courses vary during the year to follow the changing requirements of students and include:

In-sessional academic English courses are free of charge and are open to all non-native English-speaking and international students registered at SOAS.

When choosing to accept a place on one of these courses you are asked to make a commitment to attend all lessons. For every place offered a number of students may be turned away so it is important that you make such a commitment. Once a course starts it is not easy to place waiting students who may miss important lessons.

In-sessional One-to-One Tutorials

Please note that these differ from your academic tutorials in that often your academic tutorials are compulsory whereas these are entirely voluntary, except for those with 1-1 recommendations where there is an obligation to attend. You can apply for these in the same way as for courses on the application form.

The one-to-one tutorials usually take the form of focused 30-minute sessions which students prepare for in advance. Students can then book follow-up sessions with the tutor- usually there are 3 or 4 sessions available per student. The sessions often focus on academic writing issues or grammar but they can also be used to help with spoken English skills or reading and listening.  Students often send work such as essays for review to the tutor prior to the meeting where appropriate, though please note that this is not a proof-reading service. The tutor might give a close analysis of errors in one or two paragraphs but will not correct your whole essay.

In order to administer 1-1 tutorials smoothly we have some In-sessional One-to-One Tutorials Guidelines (pdf; 21kb) , which we ask you to read before entering onto the tutorials.

General information regarding In-sessional Academic English support is available on the In-sessional Courses noticeboard in the foyer of the Faber Building, 23-24 Russell Square. 

Applying for In-sessional Academic English Support

There are 5 blocks of In-sessional courses throughout the year. Block 5 courses start in week 1 of term 3, week starting 18th April 2016. These take the form of 1-1 tutorials. An application form will go live around week 9 of term 2 and students will be notified if they have an outstanding In-sessional requirement. Places tend to go to those with requirements who apply first. Applications are now live for block 5 courses and will close on March 16th 2016. You will then hear back about course placement from before the start of term 3.

You can of course also work on improving your English skills in you own way and we recommend you take a look at the Academic English Skills Online Toolkit to be found on BLE.

It is always possible to discuss any issues regarding In-sessional support with the In-sessional Programme Tutor, Mr Neil Robbie ( - Room F206 in the Faber Building (23-24 Russell Square). Tel: 0207 898 4815

Students with an In-sessional Requirement or Recommendation

If you have an In-sessional requirement or recommendation (this is stated on your offer letter) you will receive an e-mail after you have registered for your academic programme stating which In-sessional course is suitable for you, based on the evidence that you provided regarding your English language proficiency, e.g. an IELTS or TOEFL test score. You can then apply for this In-sessional course online. If you feel that the In-sessional support that you have been allocated is not appropriate for you, or if you have not been e-mailed when you think you should, or have been e-mailed when you think you should not have been, please feel free to discuss this with the In-sessional Programme Tutor, Mr Neil Robbie (

Students without an In-sessional Requirement

If you do not have an In-sessional requirement it is still possible to attend in-sessional classes voluntarily. However, you must apply for the course that you want to follow and receive notification that you have a place reserved before you can enter onto the course. If you are offered a place, please note that full attendance is expected.

Before you apply online it is important to ensure that you have your academic timetable so that you know when you are available and make sure to factor in any walks to or from Vernon Square.


It would be great if you could take the time to offer some feedback as this helps greatly with designing course provision. You can comment on the latest courses (blocks 3 and 4) here. Your comments are anonymous.

On-line help

In addition to classroom provision, if you want further help on Academic English please have a look at the Academic English Skills Online Toolkit on the 'Skills for Success' drop-down menu where you can get support for Academic English self-study.

Office Hours

If you would like to see Neil Robbie in F206 (2nd floor Faber building) to talk about your Insessional requirements, please drop in to his office during week day working hours or send an e-mail to book an appointment to (You might want to look at his teaching timetable to find the times when he is likely to be free).