SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

English Language and Academic Studies Programme (ELAS)

Duration: 3, 6 or 9 months

  • Overview
  • Structure


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A 3, 6 or 9 month Diploma/Certificate Programme in Academic English with:

  • International Business
  • Social Science
  • Humanities

The programme meets the needs of different groups of international students:

Students who have a first degree in a particular subject and who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in the same or a related field but who need to develop their English language and study skills and gain experience and confidence in studying academic subjects in the British university environment.

Students who are studying at university in their own country and who wish to spend a period of time at a British university to develop their English language, study skills and insights into the contemporary world through a range of academic subjects.

Students who have a first degree and wish to improve their English for entry to the SOAS Pre-Master's programme (FDPS).

Students who have completed their High School education in their own country and who wish to improve their English language for entry to the SOAS undergraduate foundation programme (ICC).

Professional people who wish to improve their English language skills and deepen their understanding of contemporary issues in a university environment.

Sathal Khun, from Cambodia, studied on ELAS as a pathway to postgraduate study. Following the programme she joined the MA History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS

Sathal Khun  

“What I learned on the ELAS programme provided me with a solid basis for my MA. I gained a good grasp of essential academic skills such as written academic style, presentation skills, note-taking in lectures, and how to use references and citations. The termly assignment tasks provided me with useful practice in conducting academic research and writing longer essays. It was a great chance to experience using the SOAS library resources and this was a good preparation for my MA.”

Click here to see our ELAS Pathways Flyer (pdf; 676kb)

Entry Requirements

The minimum English language level to join the ELAS programme is IELTS 4.5 (with 4.5 in writing),TOEFL iBT 60 (with 12 in writing), or 41 Pearson PTE Academic (PTE) (with 41 in writing).

For the Certificate/Diploma levels A2/3/4 which include the Academic Subject Modules, you need a minimum of 5.0 IELTS (with 5.0 in writing), TOEFL iBT 68 (with 14 in writing), or PTE 46 (with 46 in writing).

We can also take into consideration other English language tests such as Passport, TOEFL PBT or TOEIC. You can apply without an English score but you may be asked to take a grammar/writing test and/or an interview in London or in your home country.

If you require a visa to study in the UK, you can normally take two terms on ELAS (September to March or January to June) with a Student Short-Term study Visa . For this you are not required to provide an approved English language test score (such as IELTS or PTE). However, if you wish to take two terms on ELAS, starting in April and finishing in December, you will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa.

For periods of study longer than 6 months, students requiring a visa will need a CAS issued by SOAS to apply for a Tier 4 General Student Visa. To issue the CAS we will need to see an IELTS certificate from a test taken less than two years before the start date of your studies. The test result must be above CEFR B1 level - IELTS 4.0 in each subscore. Please note, tests taken after 6th April 2015 must be from an UKVI- approved IELTS test centre. A list of approved test centres.

Please note that we can accept an iBT TOEFL or Pearson PTE Academic score as evidence of your English level, but we can no longer issue a CAS on the basis of a TOEFL or PTE score, so students requiring a Tier 4 visa are advised to take IELTS, from a UKVI approved test centre

Application procedure

You can apply for one, two or three terms but you are reminded that you must take at least two terms studying the same academic subject to qualify for the award of a Diploma or Certificate.

To speed up the application process, please also email us copies of the following:

  1. the photo ID page of your passport (or national ID card if you don't have a passport)
  2. your IELTS, PTE or other English certificate (if you have one)
    Diploma/Certificate candidates or applicants wishing to go on to further academic study in the UK (eg at Masters level) should also email us a copy of their university transcript.

ELAS Application Form 2017 -18 (pdf; 158kb) or complete the on-line application form


Spring Term 2017
  •   Orientation for new students: Mon 9 January
  •   Teaching dates 9 January – 24 March
  •   (Reading Week 13-17 February )
Summer Term 2017
  • Orientation for new students 18 - 19 April
  • Teaching dates 24 April – 7 July
  • (Reading Week: 30 May – 2 June)
Autumn Term 2017
  • Orientation for new students 26 - 27 September
  • Teaching dates 2 October – 15 December
  • (Reading Week 6- 10 November)  
Spring Term 2018
  • Orientation for new students:  8 January
  • Teaching dates  8 January – 23 March
  • (Reading Week 12-16 February )
Summer Term 2018
  • Orientation for new students: 17 - 18 April
  • Teaching dates 23 April – 6 July
  • (Reading Week 29 May - 1 June)


  • January - July 2017 £4,800 per term
  • September 2017 - July 2018  £5,000 per term, £15,000 full academic year

Accommodation fees

All fees are payable in advance on either a termly or annual basis, and refunds of
fees for cancelled terms are made only at the discretion of the Head of
Department, (see the ELAS Terms and Conditions page for more information). For instructions on how to pay see IFCELS fees page. 

SOAS reserves the right to alter Module programmes and fees without notice.


All ELAS students study for between 15 and 19 hours per week.
Pre-intermediate level students in A1 study 15 hours per week of English. All A1 students take A1 Humanities as their academic subject for 3 hours per week.
Intermediate level and above students take academic English  in A2, A3, or A4 for 9-10 hours per week and choose one academic subject for 5 hours per week and one optional module for 4 hours per week.

Academic English

The four levels of Academic English focus on developing accurate listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and teach the full range of skills required for the academic subject study and for further studies.

English A1 Pre-intermediate level (preliminary course) 18 hours per week

Focuses on accuracy, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading and writing in preparation for English A2. Prepares the foundations for academic essay writing.

English A2, A3, A4 Intermediate to Advanced level (up to 10 hours per week)

IELTS 5.0 to 6.5
Focuses on accuracy, vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading, writing and academic study skills for essay assignments in the academic subject studied and research methodology used in the British academic system. Students at this level normally start at A2 and proceed onto A3 and A4 in subsequent terms.

Academic Subjects (Choose 1) (5 hours per week)

Social Sciences
Term 1 (September)

International Political Economy - Capitalism, Economic Nationalism, American Hegemony and China's Rise, Globalisation, Neoliberalism and Global Governance.

Term 2 (January)

International Relations - Nationalism and Democracy, Security and War, Human Rights and Law, Culture in World Politics, International Organizations, Cold War and US Hegemony, European Integration

Term 3 (April)

Development Studies - Poverty and Inequality, Imperialism and Capitalism, The IMF and World Bank, Global Value Chains, Land and Environment, Rights and Democracy, Conflict and Development

Term 1 (September)

Communications - Knowledge and Power, Language and Meaning, Literature Past and Present, Globalisation and Media

Term 2 (January)

Cultural Studies - Ethnicity and Religion, Multi-culturalism, Arts and Aesthetics, Post-modernism

Term 3   (April)

Sociology - Identity, Family and Gender, Post-feminism, Age and Hierarchies

International Business Studies
Term 1 (September)

International Business - Global Business, Market Analysis, Risk and Cost Management, Organisational Structures

Term 2 (January)

International Management - International HRM, Strategic Management, Corporate Transformation, Operational Management

Term 3 (April)

International Marketing - Marketing Mix, Market Research, Marketing Strategies, Global Brand Development

Optional Modules (Choose 1)  (4 hours per week)

  • IELTS Examination Preparation
  • English Language Skills Practice
  • Introduction to Media Studies
  • Introduction to Art
  • Research Methods (Term 2, Jan to March only)     

Class Sizes

Students are taught in small classes, typically 12 students per class for Academic English (maximum 13) and optional modules (maximum 14). There is no maximum class size for academic subject lectures and case studies but academic seminars are usually size 10 (maximum 12), lecture reviews usually size 12-14 (maximum 15) and lecture discussions usually range from 10-18 students (maximum 20).

IFCELS reserves the right not to run ELAS modules which fall below a minimum class size of 8 students. In addition students may not be able to join their first choice of module if it is oversubscribed or if this means class numbers rise above maximum class sizes (12 for seminars, 14 for optional modules, 15 for lecture reviews, 20 for lecture discussions). Selection of option choices will be treated on a first-come-first-served basis.