SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

Pre-Master's Programme (FDPS) (2021 entry)

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


Click here to view the latest FDPS Pre-master’s Brochure

Progressing to Postgraduate Study

The SOAS Foundation Diploma for Postgraduate Studies (FDPS) Pre-master's programme is a ten-month course providing academic and English language preparation for international students who want to enter Master's degrees (taught and researched) in Social Science, Business and Management-related studies, Arts and Humanities at British universities.
Since the FDPS Foundation programme was started in 1993 our students have progressed to Master’s study at institutions in the University of London, and over the UK.

Students who achieve a minimum level of academic and English language performance on the FDPS Pre-master’s programme are guaranteed progression to SOAS postgraduate programmes in most subject areas (subject to satisfying eligibility requirements), and will receive a 10% discount off their tuition fees. However the FDPS diploma award from the University of London is recognised by British universities across the UK and our Academic Advice Team provides one-to-one support with every stage of the postgraduate application procedure. A list of the postgraduate destinations of students who finished the programme last year can be found here.

All high-ranking British universities recognise the FDPS Pre-master’s as a value-adding academic and English-language programme for international students.

Who is this programme for?:

The Foundation Diploma for Postgradute Studies (FDPS Pre-master’s programme) is designed for international students who want to study for a postgraduate taught or research degree at a British university. You may need to complete a pre-master’s programme if any of the conditions below apply to you:

  • You have a undergraduate degree which meets the requirements of postgraduate programmes, but would like to develop your English or academic study skills on a UK university campus, in preparation for Master’s study.
  • You have a full undergraduate degree but you wish to change your academic focus for postgraduate study, or you do not have the required background experience for a particular postgraduate subject area, and so you want to develop or deepen your knowledge or the relevant subject area.
  • Your current undergraduate qualifications do not fulfil the requirements of the postgraduate programme(s) you want to apply for and so you wish to add value to your academic performance through a pre-master’s year.
Features and Benefits
  • A wide range of academic modules available to students – find out more by clicking the ‘Structure’ tab.
  • A unique integrated approach to English development, where the language teaching and learning are directly linked to the material covered in the academic modules.
  • The experience and expertise of our teaching and lecturing staff
  • Extensive individual support provided to our students through regular one-to-one meetings with lecturers, teachers, personal tutors, academic supervisors and academic advisors
  • The central London location - the programme is delivered by SOAS staff on the Central London (Russell Square) campus, within walking distance of the SOAS Hall of Residence and the West End of London. You can find a map of the area here
  • The UK campus experience that our students receive – all our students have full SOAS status and have access to all SOAS facilities including library, student support services and students’ union clubs and societies.

Entry requirements

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Programme Aims
  • to help students gain entry to postgraduate degree programmes at British universities in the humanities, social sciences, law and business-related studies
  • to enable students to extend and deepen their academic knowledge
  • to give students the linguistic and academic skills needed to be successful on a degree programme
  • to give students that opportunity to carry out extended, supervised research
  • to give students the chance to experience a year of campus life and study in London

The Academic Year

The programme runs from September to June over 3 terms. There is also a ‘reading week’ (a week without classes, which students use to catch up on their reading and work on their assignments) in the middle of the first and second terms. The teaching calendar runs for the first 20 weeks, and the third term taken up with revision and final written examinations.

The Weekly Timetable

Students attend between 15 and 19 hours of classes per week for the first 20 weeks. There is a range of class styles. Students attend lectures with all the other students in their academic modules, and small-group seminar tutorial discussions, which typically have 10 students, with a maximum of 13. These are led by an academic lecturer. Students also attend Academic English module classes, typically in a group of about 12 and a maximum of 15, and English support classes connected to their academic subject modules. These normally have class sizes of 12-14 students, with a maximum of 15.

Summer Pathway Preparation Course 

IFCELS delivers this 6-week course in the summer to help students develop the language and skills required to successfully participate on the FDPS Pre-master's programme. This course develops reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, as well as strengthening grammar, academic vocabulary and independent study skills. Further details can be found in the Summer Pathway Preparation Course info sheet, or you can apply online.

Access to English Academic Studies

Students achieving 4.5 overall and 4.5 in each sub skill in IELTS should consider applying to the online Access to English Academic Studies course. This part-time online programme can provide a pathway to the FDPS programme. 

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

The Four Study Modules
Students follow four different modules during their studies on the programme:

All students are required to study 2 compulsory modules:

Students choose an additional 2 academic subject elective modules from the list below:

Programme Assessment

Coursework – students submit termly assignment essays for each of their academic subject module. They also write timed essays for their English for Academic Purposes module and submit an 8,000-word ‘dissertation’ for their Independent Study Project.

Examinations – students sit final written examinations for each of their academic subject modules. They also take a final written and oral examination for their English for Academic Purposes module.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees 2021-22

  • FDPS full fee: £18,500 GBP
  • Summer Pathway Preparation Programme: £2,900 GBP

All fees must be paid in full before the start date of the programme. For instructions on how to pay see IFCELS Fees.


For details visit the IFCELS Accommodation page.


You may be required to purchase books for some courses.

Please see the full Terms and Conditions


Application Procedure

Please apply here for FDPS course:  You will need to select the Diploma/Certificate option under Key information in order to select the Foundation Diploma in Postgraduate Studies programme.

If you have any application queries please contact

FDPS Dates 2020-21

FDPS: Wednesday 22 September 2021 - Friday 17 June 2022

FDPS (+SPPC): Monday 2 August 2021 - Friday 17 June 2022

Term Dates:
  • Summer Pathway Preparation Course (SPPC): 2 August - 10 September 2021
  • Introductory Course: 22 - 29 September 2021
  • Autumn Term: 4 October - 17 December 2021 (Reading Week: 8 - 12 November 2021)
  • Spring Term: 10 January - 25 March 2022 (Reading Week: 14 - 18 February 2022)
  • Summer Term: 25 April - 17 June 2022 (No Reading Week)

The attendance requirement for this programme is 80%.

Entrance Requirements and Application Procedure

Update (5 April 2020): We are now accepting the Duolingo test with a score of 95 (subject to our review of the writing and speaking sample) as evidence of CEFR B2 for students applying from countries where face to face English language testing is suspended. We will continue to do so as long as IELTS and other test centres are closed and then until waiting times are reasonable.

Academic Requirements:

A full Bachelor's degree from a recognised institution in your own country or elsewhere is preferred, but we do consider applicants with diploma or associate degree qualifications on a case-by-case basis. 

English Language Requirements:

You will need a good intermediate level of English, equivalent to CEFR B2 or 5.5 in each sub-score in IELTS, to be able to join the programme. Applicants whose evidence of English proficiency falls slightly below our requirement will be asked to take a Summer Pathway Preparation Course, to improve their English in preparation for the start of the academic year.