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
  • How to Apply


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Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

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.

Click to see the ELAS Pathways Flyer (pdf; 588kb) or check out the SOAS blog to find out about our students Sopheap and Kabeer and their experience of studying on the ELAS programme.


Entry Requirements

Yin Nyein Aye from Myanmar, studied on ELAS in 2018-19 and was awarded the Bhasi Panikker Progress Prize. Yin went on to study an MA in the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS.
Yin Nyein Aye
“ELAS allowed me to improve my Academic English skills so that I was well prepared for my master’s. The teachers were really knowledgeable and helpful and thanks to them I made great progress.”

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 a UKVI-approved IELTS test centre.

IMPORTANT: 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.

See list of approved test centres


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, 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 (NB: While we try to visit free exhibitions as far as possible, there may occasionally be an entrance charge to some galleries.)
  • 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.



How to Apply

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)
  3. academic transcripts and certificates/diplomas (for candidates wishing to either take the ELAS certificate/diploma or those wishing to go onto to further academic study in the UK)


Download the ELAS Application Form or complete the Online Application Form


ELAS Term Dates and Fees 2020-2021


Spring Term 2020

  • Orientation for new students: 6 January
  • Teaching dates: 6 January-20 March
  • Reading Week: 10-14 February

Summer Term 2020

  • Orientation for new students: 14-15 April
  • Teaching dates: 20 April-3 July
  • Reading Week: 25-29 May

Autumn Term 2020

  • Orientation for new students: 29-30 September
  • Teaching dates: 5 October-18 December
  • Reading Week: 9-13 November

Spring Term 2021

  • Orientation for new students: 11 January
  • Teaching dates: 12 January-26 March
  • Reading Week: 15-19 February

Summer Term 2021

  • Orientation for new students: 20-21 April
  • Teaching dates: 26 April-9 July
  • Reading Week: 1-4 June



With the current uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 outbreak in 60+ countries across the world, the tuition fee deposit will be refundable in full or transferable in full to the next start date of the programme under either of the following circumstances:
1. if we have to cancel the ELAS programme due to Covid-19
2. if students are unable to attend the ELAS programme because flights are suspended from their home country to the UK or the UK Government bans nationals from their home country from entering the UK



  • January-July 2020: £5,500 per term
  • September 2020-July 2021: £5,650 per term; £16,950 full academic year


Accommodation: For details visit the IFCELS Accommodation page.


Attendance: The attendance requirement for this programme is 80%.


Additional Costs: You may be required to purchase books for some courses. Students taking Introduction to Art may be required to pay for some gallery visits where there is an entrance charge.

All fees must be paid in full before the start date of the programme. For instructions on how to pay, see IFCELS Fees. Please also see the full Terms and Conditions.


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