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International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

Undergraduate Foundation Programme (ICC)

Duration: 10 months


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Who is this programme for?:

The ICC undergraduate foundation programme is designed for international students who want to study for an undergraduate degree at a British university. You may need to complete a foundation programme if either of the two conditions below apply to you:

  • You have finished school in your own country, but your school-leaving certificate does not qualify you for direct entry to a UK university
  • You have been partly-educated in an English-medium school in Britain or elsewhere, but have not achieved the A-level, IB or AP grades needed for university entrance because of language difficulties.

The ICC undergraduate foundation programme is a 10-month programme combining academic and language study for students whose academic background does not allow them to enter a British university directly. Since the ICC undergraduate foundation course started in 1985 over 2000 of our students have gone on to degree courses at British universities.

A distinguishing feature of the programme is that language teaching and learning is directly linked to the material covered in academic subjects, so that students learn to understand and use the language required for the subjects they intend to study at university.

See the new ICC Brochure Undergraduate Foundation Course ICC Brochure (pdf; 2mb)

Qianru Liao

Winner of ICC Progress Prize 2014-5

Studying BSc Business Studies at City University

Qianru Liao    

“What I appreciate most from ICC foundation programme at SOAS is the academic support that I received.  It helped me enhance a number of study areas such as analytical and critical thinking, as well as my research skills, which enabled me to make great progress and achieve a high level of academic performance in a different education system. It was also a wonderful experience to meet the world in SOAS.” 

Qianyun Qin

Winner of ICC Achievement Prize 2014-15 Studying BSc Mathematics at Durham

Qianyun Qin  

“Joining ICC was one of the best choices I have ever made. It gave me an invaluable opportunity to be accepted into my dream university and an insight into real university life. The knowledge and academic skills it provided have equipped me for my undergraduate studies, and I benefitted from constant assistance offered by my lecturers and tutors. Moreover, it enabled me to get involved in the SOAS Students’ Union which gave me a sense of community, not to mention the wonderful friendships that were formed there. Overall, it was a constructive and enjoyable experience!”


Students who successfully complete the ICC programme can continue their undergraduate studies at SOAS if they meet the normal entry level standards of the department and will receive a 5% discount in all 3 years of undergraduate study. However the ICC certificate award from the University of London is recognised by all British universities as an entrance qualification for undergraduate degree programmes and the Academic Advice Unit in the department helps students with every stage of the university application procedure. Listing of the destinations of students who finished the programme last year

All teaching is done by SOAS staff on the Central London campus, within walking distance of the SOAS Hall of Residence and the West End of London.

Programme Aims

  • to help you gain entry to degree programmes at British universities in the humanities, social sciences, law and business-related studies
  • to give you the linguistic and academic skills you will need to be successful on a degree programme
  • to make a wide range of academic subjects accessible to you through subject-based English language tuition
  • to give you the chance to experience a year of life and study in London

Features of the Programme

A distinctive feature of teaching and learning in the Department is the integration of language and subject teaching to consolidate and develop the language skills and academic knowledge you will need to successfully complete an undergraduate degree programme in the UK.

The ICC undergraduate foundation programme aims to provide:

Academic study
  • intensive study of academic subjects in much more depth than is usual in most countries' school systems
Critical thinking skills
  • analysing concepts
  • assessing & interpreting evidence
  • examining connections between ideas
  • asking critical questions
  • forming opinions & developing arguments within your subject areas

Dates and Fees

Dates 2016 - 2017

ICC: Tuesday 20 September 2016 - Friday 30 June 2017
ICC Plus: Monday 1 August 2016 - Friday 30 June 2017

Term Dates

Summer Vacation Term (ICC Plus): 1 August - 9 September 2016

Introductory Course: 20 - 28 September 2016

Autumn Term: 3 October - 16 December 2016 (Reading Week: 7 - 11 November)

Spring Term 2017: 9 January - 24 March 2017 (Reading Week: 13 - 17 February)

Summer Term 2017: 24 April - 30 June 2017 (No Reading Week)

Fees 2016-17

ICC: £16,200 (September entry) 
ICC Plus: £18,700 (July entry) 

Application fee: NO FEE before 30 April 2016. £90.00 payable after 1 May please pay at our online store

Details of Accommodation Fees

All fees must be paid in full before the start date of the programme. For instructions on how to pay see IFCELS Fees

Please see the full Terms and Conditions

Entry Requirements and Application

August and September entry points

ICC has entry points in early August and mid-September. Students who need to focus on their reading and writing skills before they start the academic subject courses will be asked to join the programme in August.

Academic Qualifications

You should have successfully completed high school in your own country with good grades in a range of subjects.

Language level

You need to have an intermediate level of English before starting the programme. Preparatory English language programmes in the department start in September, January and April and during the summer there is a range of summer courses offering academic subject study together with English language classes. 

Entrance Test

When we receive your application and supporting documents we will look at them carefully and then decide if we will consider you for a place on ICC. We will assess your application by interview, either face-to-face in London or in your own country, or by Skype. We may also ask you to take all or part of our entrance test, depending on your English level. The following tests and levels can be used to show that you meet our English language requirements:

  • GCSE English Language grade C
  • IELTS 5.5 with 5 in the writing section
  • Cambridge First Certificate in English grade C
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 36 in each sub-score
  • iBT TOEFL 76 with 12 in writing

ICC applicants who require a student visa must achieve CEFR B1 level in an approved English test - for example minimum IELTS 4.0 in each sub-score. IELTS tests taken after 6 April 2015 and being used for visa purposes must be from one of the approved IELTS for UKVI test centres. Check this list of centres carefully

Please note: iBT TOEFL and Pearson PTE Academic are no longer an approved test for visa purposes

Application Procedure

Please print and fill out the ICC 2016 Application Form then you can e-mail it to us at ifcels@soas.ac.uk

OR post it to:

Head of Department

International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)

SOAS (University of London)

23/24 Russell Square

London WC1H 0XG UK



Summer vacation term
Students who need to improve their reading and writing skills before tackling the academic courses on ICC, will be asked to take the summer vacation term.
Using a combination of intensive language study, frequent controlled practice and close monitoring by an English tutor, students will achieve a sound basis of reading and writing skills which will enable them to approach their future study programme with confidence. A feature of the term is regular one-to-one tutorials with the teacher in order to address a student’s individual problems and a focus on drafting, proofreading and redrafting writing to achieve grammatical accuracy.

The Summer Vacation term is 6 weeks long and students have 18 hours of classes a week.

Number of hours

From September, students have a minimum of 19 hours of classes a week (reducing to 17 in term 2, and 15 in term 3), and you will be expected to study at least as many hours outside class reviewing and preparing for classes, reading, completing homework tasks and writing course assignments.

Types of classes

There is a range of class styles - students attend lectures, small group tutorials of 10 students and English language classes with a normal maximum of 12 students.

Timetable of classes

From September to June, classes are taught over 3 terms, each 10 weeks long. There is a reading week (a week without classes) in the middle of both the Autumn and Spring terms to give students a chance to catch up with their reading and work on their assignments.

There are practice exams ("Mocks") at the end of the spring term and final exams take place in the last three weeks of the academic year.

Subjects of study

All students on the undergraduate foundation programme study:

2 compulsory units
2 optional academic units drawn from this list

A Student's Perspective

When I actually started my studies on the foundation course at SOAS, it confirmed in my mind that I had made a very good choice.

Sare Demir