What are In-Sessional courses?
In-sessional courses are designed to help International Students with their academic skills in English, namely writing, reading, speaking and listening. All our teachers are ‘EAP’ (English for Academic Purpose) teachers who work in the IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies) Department. They have extensive experience of delivering Academic English courses based on skills and academic content.
In-sessional courses, as the name suggests, take place IN-SESSION, during term time. Pre-sessional courses take place before the academic year begins, but In-sessional courses take place during the academic year.
How long do they last?
As such they are not as intensive as Pre-sessional courses but generally provide 2 hours of study per course per week. Courses last either 4/5 or 9/10 weeks following start and end of term times. They usually take place in small classes of 10-15 so that close individual attention is possible. Also 1-1 tutorials are provided in 30 minute sessions for focused individual attention.
Do I have to pay for them?
They are non-credit bearing and free of charge and available to all International students whose second language is English.
Placement on courses is limited and, though courses are open to all International students for whom English is not a first language, priority goes to those who have either an In-sessional recommendation or an In-sessional requirement.
What are recommendations and requirements?
Postgraduate, Undergraduate and Study Abroad students are offered In-sessional recommendations depending on their English assessment. These are given on the basis that the student will need English language or skills support in a particular area. For example if 6.5 in writing was achieved in the IELTS test, rather than the required 7.0 for unconditional direct entry, the student is likely to be given an In-sessional recommendation in Academic Essay Writing when their English is assessed. If the 6.5 was in speaking then the recommendation would be for Seminar Speaking Skills. The student should attend the course for which the recommendation is offered. The In-sessional programme tutor will notify you of which course you should take. If you are unsure whether you have a recommendation or not, please check your offer letter.
Doctoral school students are given In-sessional requirements. Here fulfilment of the In-sessional requirement is a condition of progression from MPhil to PhD status. It is strongly recommended therefore that PhD students fulfil their requirement at the earliest opportunity.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Mode of Attendance: Part-time
- Open to all SOAS international students for whom English is not a first language
Tuition Fees 2019
- Tuition fee:
- Free for SOAS students
In-sessional courses are non-credit bearing and no formal assessment is made. The courses aim to support you in your academic programmes. However you are expected to attend all classes, submit homeworks and do classwork tasks as required.
Length of courses
Courses are normally 2 hours long and take place once a week for 5 or 10 week periods. 1-1 tutorials are 30 minutes long and take place over 4 or 5 weeks. The longest course is the full Academic English Essay Writing course, which lasts for 9 or 10 weeks. Most other courses are for 4 or 5 weeks.
Course outlines for:
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.
Courses take place in ‘blocks’: (link to 2019-20 calendar)
- Block 1 is term 1 weeks 2-5 (4 weeks)
- Block 2 is term 1 weeks 6-10 (5 weeks)
- Block 3 is term 2 weeks 1-5 (5 weeks)
- Block 4 is term 2 weeks 6-10 (5 weeks)
- Block 5 is term 3 weeks 1-5 (5 weeks)
There is no teaching during reading weeks or holidays or in the second half of term 3.
In-sessional Calendar 2019-2020
- Block 1 October 7th to November 1st 2019
- Block 2 November 11th to December 13th 2019
- Block 3 January 6th to February 7th 2020
- Block 4 February 17th to March 20th 2020
- Block 5 April 20th to May 22nd 2020
The In-sessional Orientation course
This is offered to students who fit a particular English assessment profile and takes place in the first week of the academic year before teaching officially starts (Welcome week). This course is free of charge and open only to those who have an ‘In-sessional Orientation’ recommendation in their offer letter. If you have this recommendation you will be contacted a couple of weeks before the course begins. If you do not have this in your offer letter you cannot attend this course.
In-sessional Orientation Course description (pdf; 212kb)
The BLE offers a variety of In-sessional support from the In-sessional Resources page to the Academic English Online Toolkit.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
Teachers are drawn from IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies). Two of our teachers have been recipients of the prestigious SOAS Teaching prize on separate occasions in recent years. All are very experienced in teaching Academic English through skills or supporting academic content.
Students work in small groups in two hour classes which take place once a week and are offered at different times to fit around their academic module timetables. Classes are designed to encourage free and open discussion with the teacher and other students, to stimulate questioning and critical thinking within a supportive environment. Extensive peer to peer interaction is encouraged. There are in class tasks, and there may be some small homework tasks given. The In-sessional classes are a unique opportunity to work alongside students from different disciplines, which though initially appearing different, will often cross-fertilize.
The main course requirement is to complete the course by attending 75% of the course. It may be that some lessons are on topics students already feel comfortable with, but this does not mean that something new and useful will not appear in the following week. It is therefore better not to cherry-pick lessons but to attend as many as possible consecutively in case anything valuable is missed.
Homework is given by some teachers and some lessons will need preparation, but most work will be done in class. Generally courses are designed not to detract from your academic courses but to complement and support them.
In-sessional courses are free to SOAS students and are open to the following part-time and full-time student groups:
- Certificate and Diploma students
- Study Abroad students
- Undergraduate students
- Postgraduate students
- Postgraduate research students
- Doctoral students
- Visiting Researchers
They are not open to IFCELS students or to SOAS staff.
If you are an external student from another university then we ask you to pay for the courses. The fee structure is as follows:
- 5 hour course £95.00
- 10 hour course £190.00
- 20 hour course £380.00
Places go to SOAS students as a first priority but some places may be available to external students from term 2 on.
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section
In-sessional courses provide students with transferable skills which can be used in any academic English environment and with critical thinking and organisational skills which are applicable in many situations beyond academia.
A Student's Perspective
Blanca Moreno Fontela
Your course was indeed very helpful for me. It helped me a lot, and my results improved massively along the year!
How to apply
There is an application link available on the In-sessional web pages. It goes live shortly before the courses start, usually a week or so before. Click on the link and fill in the relevant details.
For example for Block 2 courses the application form will be available in week 4 or 5 of term 1. For Block 3 courses, the application should be up at the end of term 1.
When filled in, your application will be considered for course placement. Course placement is done largely on a first-come-first served basis with those with recommendations and requirements prioritised over those without.
If you are not happy with your first application (for example if your timetable changes), you can send in another one, but usually the later the application the less chance you have of being placed.
Process of application
- Check your academic timetable to see that it has been finalised.
- Check your recommendation or requirement if you have one (eg writing, reading, speaking, grammar etc).
- Apply for the relevant In-sessional course or courses at the relevant time or times.
- Wait to hear back from the In-sessional tutor- it may take up to a week or two depending on the timeline.
- Note your acceptance or rejection e-mail. An acceptance e-mail will give more details of the course including the start date, the name of your teacher and room number.
- Where relevant reply to acceptance e-mail confirming your place.
- Turn up to the first class on time with pen and paper etc.
- If you have been rejected see if any reserve places come up or wait to apply for the next Block.
The In-sessional online application form will be available shortly.