SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

Pre-Master's Programme (FDPS)

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • How to Apply


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Who is this programme for?:

To apply please use the  FDPS Application Form 2020 (pdf; 172kb)   The FDPS brochure has more information about the programme.

The 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 full 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 student – 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 - all teaching is done 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.

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 5% 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. Our destinations list here shows the universities and programmes that our students joined last year.

Prize-winners 2017-18

Professor Deborah Johnston, SOAS Pro-director, Learning and Teaching, congratulated our FDPS 2017-18 prize-winners on their achievements and presented their prizes at the IFCELS Welcome Reception for our new students in October 2018.

Kazuna Azuma

"I enjoy studying at SOAS because there is a diverse mix of people and I can see the world from various perspectives. Moreover, there are lots of open seminars in SOAS we can attend beyond our programmes and these experiences have led me to think about our world and contemporary issues deeply and enthusiastically."

Kazuna Azuma, FDPS Achievement Prize Winner 2017-18

Now studying MA Social Anthropology at SOAS

Linyu Tang

"Through the FDPS programme, my language and academic abilities have greatly improved, which is very important for my current study. Also because of the high-quality teaching and great academic atmosphere on FDPS, I decided to stay at SOAS to study my Master’s degree. I really appreciate my friendly classmates and responsible teachers during the whole programme. What I learned from FDPS will benefit my future study and life alot."

Linyu Tang, FDPS Progress Prize Winner 2017-18

Now studying MA Global Creative and Cultural Industries at SOAS


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, each 10 weeks long. 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 25 weeks, and the last 5 weeks are 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 25 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 14, 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 

This year, IFCELS is running a 6-week online course (3 August-11 September 2020) to help students prepare for 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. It features daily 'live' online classes blended with self-study activities and weekly one-to-one feedback from teachers. The course provides an excellent opportunity to ensure you are fully prepared to begin your Pre-master's studies in September. Further details can be found in the Summer Pathway Preparation Course info sheet, or you can apply online.

The Four Study Modules

Students follow fourdifferent 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



How to Apply


Application Procedure

Please print and complete the FDPS Application Form 2020 (pdf; 172kb)  . Then e-mail it as an attachment to

FDPS Dates and Fees 2020-21

  • FDPS Pre-master's programme: 23 September 2020-2 July 2021
  • FDPS with Summer Pathway Preparation Course: 3 August 2020-2 July 2021


Term Dates
  • Summer Pathway Preparation Course (SPPC): 3 August-11 September 2020
  • Introductory Course: 23-30 September 2020
  • Autumn Term: 5 October-18 December 2020 (Reading Week: 9-13 November)
  • Spring Term: 11 January-26 March 2021 (Reading Week: 15-19 February)
  • Summer Term: 26 April-2 July 2021 (No Reading Week)


Fees 2020-21



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 FDPS programme starting in September 2020 due to Covid-19
2. if students are unable to attend the FDPS 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



  • FDPS full fee: £18,500 GBP
  • FDPS Early Bird Discount*: £18,000 GBP
  • SPPC: £1900 GBP

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

* Early Bird Discount applies for offers accepted and all fees paid within one month of the offer date and before 30 June 2020.



For details visit the IFCELS Accommodation page.



LATE APPLICATION FEE: £90.00 from 1 August 2020.



The attendance requirement for this programme is 80%.



You may be required to purchase books for some courses. Please see the full Terms and Conditions


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 or tests are test centres are closed and then until waiting times are reasonable.


Academic Requirements

You must have a full Bachelor's degree from a recognised institution in your own country or elsewhere. We do not have fixed minimum academic requirements since we interview, and sometimes test, all applicants to ensure that they are suitable for the programme and have the potential to achieve their study goals. (If you have a three-year Diploma, you may be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis, particularly if you have substantial relevant work experience)

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 pre-sessional course, to improve their English in preparation for the start of the academic year.

Entrance Test

All applicants will be interviewed either face-to-face in London or in their own country, or by Skype or telephone. If you have not taken an approved English test or if your scores are below these, you may be asked to take all or part of our internal entrance test. Our entrance test can be used to satisfy the programme’s requirements and also those connected to Tier 4 visa applications. See here for details of test dates and venues.

Please note: iBT TOEFL and Pearson Academic are no longer an approved test for visa purposes