SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

In-sessional Academic English Support 2020-21 (2019 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
  • Apply


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 (pre) the academic year begins, but In-sessional courses take place during (in) 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. In term 1 of 2020 year when teaching is online, this will take the form of one hour each of online synchronous and asynchronous lessons. 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

Entry requirements

  • Open to all SOAS international students for whom English is not a first language

Featured events

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 synchronous and asynchronous classes, submit homeworks and do classwork tasks as required.

Length of courses

Courses are normally 2 hours of work per week and a synchronous lesson 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 2 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 2020-21

  • Block 1 October 5th to October 30th 2020
  • Block 2 November 9th to December 11th 2020
  • Block 3 January 11th to February 12th 2021
  • Block 4 February 22nd to March 26th 2021
  • Block 5 April 26th to May 28th 2021


The BLE offers a variety of In-sessional support from the In-sessional Resources page to the Academic English Online Toolkit.

Important notice

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 and Learning

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 synchronous one 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. The In-sessional classes are a unique opportunity to work alongside students from different disciplines, which will often cross-fertilize.

Extensive peer to peer interaction is encouraged.

In addition there will be about an hour of asynchronous (self study) material and tasks for students to prepare before the synchronous lesson, totalling 2 hours of work per week. Materials will be accessible once students are enrolled on the course.

Course requirements

The main course requirement is to complete the course by completing 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 either synchronous or asynchronous class. Generally courses are designed not to detract from your academic courses but to complement and support them.    

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

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

Your course was indeed very helpful for me. It helped me a lot, and my results improved massively along the year!

Blanca Moreno Fontela


How to apply

There is an application link for Block 4 courses is now available on the In-sessional web pages.  Click on the link and fill in the relevant details.

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.

You need to know your academic timetable in full before applying. If something changes apply again and let me know ( and I will delete your earlier application.

Deadline for applications is November 3rd 11.59pm

Process of application

  1. Check your academic timetable to see that it has been finalised.
  2. Check your recommendation or requirement if you have one (eg writing, reading, speaking, grammar etc).
  3. Apply for the relevant In-sessional course or courses at the relevant time or times.
  4. Wait to hear back from the In-sessional tutor- it may take up to a week or two depending on the timeline.
  5. 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.
  6. Where relevant reply to acceptance e-mail confirming your place.
  7. Turn up to the first class on time with pen and paper etc.
  8. If you have been rejected see if any reserve places come up (ask nr2) or wait to apply for the next Block.

The In-sessional online application form for Block 4 is now available.

Find out more

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