Doctoral School 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:

  • you are a UK national (we reserve the right to request further English evidence)
  • Nationals from a government recognised majority English speaking country 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. (5 year validity from the date the degree was awarded)
  • 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). (5 year validity from date degree was awarded)
  • You’ve completed a SOAS Pre-Masters or International Foundation (60% in Academic English) or ELAS programme (70% in Academic English)
  • You’ve passed a Pre-sessional English course at a UK university (2-year validity)

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.

Doctoral School
TestOverallSubscores (minimum)
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Indicator7.06.5 in each subscore (7.0 in Writing)
PTE Academic7065 in each subscore (70 in Writing)
TOEFL10523 in each subscore (25 in Writing)
IELCA Academic4035 in each subscore (40 in Writing)
Password Skills Plus7.06.5 in each subscore (7.0 in Writing)
Doctoral School (with free in-sessional English)
TestOverallSubscores (minimum)
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Indicator6.56.0 in all subscores (6.5 in Writing)
PTE Academic6560 in all subscores (65 in Writing)
TOEFL10521 in each subscore (23 in writing)
IELCA Academic4030 in all subscores (35 in Writing)
Password Skills Plus6.56.0 in all subscores (6.5 in Writing)
Doctoral School (with 4-week pre-sessional English)
TestOverallSubscores (Minimum
IELTS Academic / for UKVI/ Indicator6.55.5 in subscores and 6.0 in writing
PTE Academic6555 in subscores and 60 in writing
TOEFL10021 in writing, 20 in speaking and 19 in other subscores
IELCA Academic3525 in subscores and 30 in writing
Password Skills Plus6.5 5.5 in subscores and 6.0 in writing
Doctoral School (with 8-week pre-sessional English)
TestOverallSubscores (minimum)
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Indicator6.05.5 in all subscores
PTE Academic6055 in all subscores
TOEFL9520 in speaking and 19 in other subscores
IELCA Academic3025 in all subscores
Password Skills Plus6.05.5 in all subscores

Alternative qualifications

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 5-year validity, but some may have a two-year validity. Some of these are listed below:


TestUnconditional direct entryDirect entry with an In-sessional requirementEntry with 4 week Pre- sessional conditionEntry with 8 week Pre- sessional condition
Cambridge Advanced English (CAE)* , Cambridge Proficiency English (CPE)185 overall with 176 subscores180 overall with 170 in subscoresNANA
IELTS Indicator (from July 2020)*7.0 overall with 7.0 in writing and 6.5 in other subscores7.0 overall with 6.5 in writing and other scores at 6.0

6.5 overall with 6.0 in
writing and 5.5 in other


6.0 overall with 5.5 in
other scores
Pre-sessional from a UK university*PassNANANA
Skills for English* (UKVI SELT)Expert (pass)B2 Pass with Merit (pass)Upper Intermediate (pass)B1 Pass with Merit (pass)
SOAS ELAS Academic English*70%68%65%63%
SOAS FDPS Academic English*60%58%56%NA
Trinity ISE III* (UKVI SELT)Pass with distinctionPass with meritII Pass with meritII Pass

* 2 year validity

Pre-sessional and in-sessional English

If you do not meet the English Language Requirements for your course in full, you may be offered an In-sessional English course or a four-week or eight-week Pre-sessional English course, depending on your test results.

Visa requirements and SELT

Applicants who require a Student Visa must prove their knowledge of the English language when applying. As a higher education provider, SOAS can assess your level of English using a variety of tests and qualifications. However, you may be asked to provide evidence of a secure English language test ( SELT ) as part of your Student Visa application.

Doctoral School applicants who require a Student route visa and plan to take a Pre-sessional English course must provide a SELT test.

If you are not sure if you will require a pre-sessional course then we recommend that you take one of the following approved SELT English test, as this is the safest option:

Additional guidance

  • In-sessional English courses are free and available to all International applicants whose first language is not English, however, priority will go to applicants with an In-sessional recommendation or requirement
  • Degrees from majority English speaking countries or English-medium universities are valid for a period of 5 years before start date of SOAS degree 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 results of the most recent
  • For details of English language teaching and resources at SOAS, such as In-sessional or Pre-sessional courses. please visit the IFCELS web pages
  • If your qualification is not included on this page or the alternative qualifications page.
  • 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.