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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.

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

In-sessional Orientation course

For 2016 entry an Insessional 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; and secondly for those who have been assessed as having more than two regular Insessional 'requirements'.

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 writing, reading, speaking and listening and in the study skills needed to succeed at SOAS.

Depending on how students perform on this course they may be given additional Insessional requirements 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 8 or 9-week courses running for the whole term. 

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 students registered at SOAS.

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 requirements 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 to check the progress of the student. The sessions can focus either on academic study problems or grammar and general language support. Students can send work for review to the tutor prior to the meeting where appropriate, though please note that this is not a proof-reading service.

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 3 courses start in week 2 of term 2, week starting 11th January 2016. An application form will go live around the end of term 1 and students will be notified if they have an In-sessional requirement. Places tend to go to those with requirements who apply first. 

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 (nr2@soas.ac.uk) - Room F206 in the Faber Building (23-24 Russell Square). Tel: 0207 898 4815

Students with an In-sessional Requirement

If you have an In-sessional requirement (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 (Acting), Mr Neil Robbie (nr2@soas.ac.uk).

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 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.


Feedback forms will occasionally be put up here as courses finish. It would be great if you could take the time to offer some feedback as this helps greatly with designing course provision.

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 nr2@soas.ac.uk. You might want to look at his teaching timetable to find the times when he is likely to be free.