SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

In-sessional Academic English Support 2018-19

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Mode of Attendance: Part-time


  • To help second language English users achieve their full academic potential we provide In-sessional academic English and study skills courses and one-to-one tutorials throughout the academic year.
  • These are non-credit bearing and free of charge and available to all International students whose second language is English.
  • 'In-sessional' means that you study at the same time ('in session') as your regular academic subjects, as opposed to Pre-sessional which are courses designed to be studied in advance of entry into your academic subjects.

If you  have been given an In-sessional requirement or recommendation and would like to find out more about how these assessment are made, please see further details regarding assessments. Also there is a useful FAQ page.

  • Please note that some Postgraduate, Undergraduate and Study Abroad students have In-sessional recommendations. Recommendations are given on the basis of there being a recognition that the student needs English language or skills support in a particular area. Students are strongly recommended to take certain courses and have been granted direct entry on the basis that it is assumed they will take up these recommendations to study on In-sessional courses.
  • Doctoral school students have an In-sessional requirement. Fulfilment of the In-sessional requirement is a condition of progression from MPhil status to Phd status. It is vitally important therefore for those with requirements to register on In-sessional courses or their progression may be jeopardised.

In-sessional Academic English Courses

  • The regular In-sessional courses consist of one x 2-hour lesson a week during term time. They take place around your regular academic programmes.
  • They take the form of short 4 or 5-week courses either side of Reading Week, or longer 9 or 10 week courses running for the whole term or through two terms. 
  • They usually have a skills focus which allows students to concentrate on the areas of English that are most in need of improvement.
  • The courses are also designed around academic contexts to add relevance to the skills practice, e.g. lecture skills, seminar speaking skills, essay writing skills, reading and note-taking skills.
  • In-sessional academic English courses are free of charge and are open to all International students registered at SOAS.

Courses vary during the year to follow the changing requirements of students and include:

In-sessional One-to-One Tutorials

  • The one-to-one tutorials usually take the form of focused 30-minute sessions which students prepare for in advance.
  • Students can then book follow-up sessions with the tutor- usually there are about 4 sessions available per student.
  • The sessions often focus on academic writing issues or grammar but they can also be used to help with spoken English skills or reading and listening. 
  • Students often send work such as essays for review to the tutor prior to the meeting, but please note that this is not a proof-reading service. The tutor might give a close analysis of errors in one or two paragraphs but will not correct your whole essay.
  • Please note that these should not be confused with academic tutorials. The 1-1s are for Academic English support and you can apply for these in the same way as for courses on the application form.
  • In order to administer 1-1 tutorials smoothly we have some In-sessional One-to-One Tutorials Guidelines (pdf; 21kb) , which we ask you to read before entering onto the tutorials.

General information regarding In-sessional Academic English support is available on the In-sessional Courses noticeboard in the foyer of the Faber Building, 23-24 Russell Square. 

Applying for In-sessional Academic English Support


  • There are 5 blocks of In-sessional courses throughout the year in terms 1, 2 and 3.
  • Block 5 courses start in week 1 of term 3, week starting 23rd April 2019 and last for 5 weeks
  • If you have an In-sessional Recommendation or Requirement you will be notified by e-mail towards the end of September to remind you to apply.
  • You can find the application form for Block 5 courses here.
  • You need to know your academic timetable before applying. Your academic courses take priority.
  • Places tend to go to those with Recommendations or Requirements but those without Recommendations or Requirements can also apply. If no student has a Recommendation or Requirement, allocation is usually on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • You must  receive e-mail notification that you have been placed before you can enter onto the course (you can't just turn up unannounced!). Then you will be given the room number and the name of your teacher.
  • The application process is as follows: finalise your timetable→ apply online for In-sessional courses→ wait for e-mail notification as to whether you have been placed, including room number→ accept your offer of a place by e-mail if one is offered→ attend class and course in full.
  • OR receive rejection e-mail→ apply for a later block. Note: you may receive a rejection mail for some courses but be placed on another.
  • If you are offered a place and do not accept it in a timely way, then it may be offered to another student.
  • Course placement will not show up on your timetable so please make a careful note of times, your teacher's name and room number.
  • Once you agree to attend you are making a commitment to attend all sessions of the course and you should not drop out- there is often a high demand for places and you are taking the place of another student. (Also sometimes the lesson you need does not come in the first lesson but later on, so it is worth attending all classes.)
  • Please notify your teacher of any absence in advance.
  • If for any reason you feel the course is not suitable for you and want to stop your attendance, first discuss this with the teacher and then come to see me (Neil Robbie) in F206.
  • There is no 'Block 6' Insessional course but In-sessional teaching staff are available during the summer recess when many Masters students are working on their dissertations. If you need help at this time it may be possible to arrange a bespoke tutorial. Contact

It is always possible to discuss your choice of In-sessional support with the In-sessional Programme Tutor, Mr Neil Robbie ( - Room F206 in the Faber Building (23-24 Russell Square). Tel: 0207 898 4815

Students with an In-sessional Requirement or Recommendation

  • If you have an In-sessional Requirement or Recommendation (please consult your offer letter) you will receive an e-mail towards the end of September stating which In-sessional course is suitable for you, based on the evidence that you provided regarding your English language proficiency, e.g. an IELTS or TOEFL test score.
  • You can then apply for this In-sessional course online.
  • If you feel that the In-sessional support that you have been allocated is not appropriate for you, or if you have not been e-mailed when you think you should, or have been e-mailed when you think you should not have been, please discuss this with the In-sessional Programme Tutor, Mr Neil Robbie (
  • Students with an In-sessional Requirement must attend an In-sessional course before being able to progress to full Phd status. Doctoral school keeps a close eye on this.

Students without an In-sessional Recommendation or Requirement

  • If you do not have an In-sessional Recommendation or Requirement it is still possible to apply for and be placed in In-sessional classes.
  • Places go first to those with Requirements and Recommendations but there are often plenty of vacancies beyond that, though places are more difficult to get in the first term.
  • If you do not get placed immediately there is a likelihood that if you apply again in the next block you will be placed.

In-sessional Orientation Course

For 2019 September entry an In-sessional Orientation Course will be held for those with English entry levels which are slightly lower than those for direct entry with regular In-sessional courses, but higher than what is required for Pre-sessional courses. This course is not offered to all International students, only those for whom it is a progression requirement on their offer letter. The course will take place 23rd-27th September.

Please consult your offer letter carefully to find out whether you need to take this course.

  • The In-sessional Orientation Course takes place during Welcome week (23rd-27th September 2019).
  • It is free of charge 
  • It consists of a number of classes in academic skills and academic English such as essay writing, listening to lectures, reading and notetaking, speaking in seminars and other skills needed to succeed at SOAS
  • It is only open to those for whom it is a progression recommendation in their offer letter
  • If you have this as a recommendation on your offer letter you should attend

Depending on how students perform on this course they may be given additional Insessional recommendations for further Academic English and study skills courses at SOAS.


Occasionally you will be asked to provide thoughts on how the courses went by an online feedback form. It is always great to hear your feedback.

Further support

  • You can of course also work on improving your English skills in you own way and we recommend you take a look at the Academic English Skills Online Toolkit to be found on BLE. Look for the 'Skills for Success' tab.
  • Also for first language speakers of English, LTD offers high quality Study Skills seminars. These are also open to International students.

Office Hours

If you would like to see Neil Robbie in F206 (2nd floor Faber building) to talk about your Insessional requirements, please drop in to his office during week day working hours or send an e-mail to book an appointment to You might want to check his teaching timetable to find the times when he is likely to be free.

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