Distance learning English language requirements

All international applicants must be able to show that their English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete their course at SOAS.

If you have not yet taken an English language test, you can still apply for your degree, but we will include evidence of language requirements as part of your offer conditions. You can demonstrate English language ability in several ways.


You do not need to provide evidence of your English language ability if any of the following apply:

  • Nationals from a government recognised majority English speaking country (MESC)  who have successfully completed high school or a degree in the respective country.
  • You've completed a degree in the UK or in any majority English speaking country within the last 10 years.
  • You've completed a degree which was taught in English from Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, or South Africa (or from certain recognised English-medium universities) within the last 10 years. (Please note that if you are a Canadian national we would ask you to include a transcript of your High School education with your application so we can confirm if you are of English language background).
  • You've completed a SOAS Pre-Masters or International Foundation or ELAS programme (55% in Academic English) within the last 2 years.
  • You've passed a Pre-sessional English course at a UK university (2-year validity)

Distance Learning English Test Scores

Details of many of the English language qualifications that we accept with minimum scores are provided below. We consider these qualifications alongside other evidence of English language ability, such as your references, curriculum vitae or personal statement.

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (open validity)/Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English*180170 in Listening and Speaking, 185 in Reading and Writing
Duolingo* 125Literacy and Production 100, others 90
IELCA Academic* IELCA Home Edition*3530 in Listening and Speaking, 40 in Reading and Writing

IELTS Academic*

IELTS Academic online*
IELTS Academic for UKVI* 

6.56.0 in Listening and Speaking, 7.0 in Reading and Writing
Password Skills Plus*6.56.0 in Listening and Speaking, 7.0 in Reading and Writing

PTE Academic* (test centre only)


6563 in Listening and Speaking, 67 in Reading and Writing
TOEFL iBT/At Home*9522 in Listening and Speaking, 25 in Reading and Writing
Trinity ISE III*PassPass in Listening and Speaking, Merit in Reading and Writing
Trinity ISE IV*PassPass in all subscores

* normally 2 year validity 

Alternative qualifications

Alternative QualificationLevel/GradeValidity
English language subject degree (e.g. BA English Language or Literature)PassOpen
English medium work experience3 years experience where at least 75% of work is done in English from a reputable, well-established organisation, with letter of reference. This must be supported by some historical evidence of English language education or qualifications.2 years
Translation qualification from a respected institution (various)High level translation qualificationOpen

In addition to the tests listed above, we also accept a range of alternative qualifications to demonstrate evidence of English language proficiency. Generally, these have open validity, but some may have a two-year validity. In all cases, Distance Learning students will need to meet the direct entry requirements for the alternative qualifications.

Pre-sessional English

In-sessional and Pre-sessional English courses are not available for Distance Learning applicants. All applicants for postgraduate Distance Learning programmes must meet the direct entry English language requirements listed above.

Additional guidance

  • Degrees from majority English speaking countries or English-medium universities are valid for a period of 10 years before start date of SOAS distance learning programme.
  • Where applicants have submitted more than one piece of evidence of English (e.g. an IELTS test and a degree from a majority English speaking country), we are only able to accept the most recent evidence.
  • If your qualification is not included on this page or on the alternative qualifications page, please contact Distance Learning Admissions at dladmissions@soas.ac.uk.
  • The information provided on this page is a basic guide to our English admissions and SOAS reserves the right to apply the criteria at its own discretion in all cases.