SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

Pre-sessional Courses



**Statement About Pre-sessional Courses During the Coronavirus Pandemic**

We understand that prospective students and offer holders are justifiably concerned about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation so we are now offering all our pre-sessional courses online. This will provide you with the flexibility to start your programme from the comfort of your home. 

This also means that we have taken the decision to cancel our allocation of rooms for the Pre-sessional and Summer Programmes in Dinwiddy House and Paul Robeson House. The Coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly changing situation, and if you have booked your accommodation through the IFCELS Department, then please be assured that a member of staff will be in touch with you shortly.


Important note about Pre-sessional courses:

Please do NOT apply for a pre-sessional course until you can say YES to ALL of the following:

  1. You are holding an academic offer letter from SOAS.
  2. Your English certificates have been submitted to Admissions for assessment.
  3. In 2020, there may be a delay in you sending in all the required academic qualifications to SOAS Admissions to satisfy the conditions of your offer, but you can apply for the Pre-sessional once your offer letter showing a Pre-sessional requirement has been received.

English certificates should be sent to Undergraduate Admissions, Masters Admissions, Postgraduate Admissions or to the English assessor

When you have fulfilled the above, please submit your Pre-sessional application online attaching a copy of your offer letter from SOAS (or other university), your passport details and a copy of your English language certificate, or by emailing


What is English for Academic Purposes?

Although many people develop good language skills at school, university or in their work, university study makes particular demands on students' language and study skills. Students need to be able to:

  • listen to lectures and take notes efficiently
  • participate fully in tutorial discussions, including in group seminars
  • present seminar papers based on reading and/or research
  • read and gather information from a wide variety of written sources
  • write relevant, well-argued and accurately presented essays and examination answers in an appropriately academic style


Our online pre-sessional EAP courses aim:

  • to develop students' English language and study skills to the level required for them to be successful in their studies
  • to prepare students’ digital literacy and e-learning skills to maximize their effectiveness as on-line learners
  • to help students gain an understanding of the academic and cultural context of university study so that they will be able to participate in and benefit fully from their degree course


Students whose first language is not English often take time to adjust to the requirements of academic study at a UK university, and taking part in a pre-sessional EAP course can help in this process of adjustment, developing students' confidence in their own use of English and in their study skills so that they can embark on their degree programmes fully prepared.


Key Features

  • The courses are intended for students who are starting undergraduate or postgraduate degree programmes in late September.
  • Courses in 2020 will run exclusively online for 4 or 8 weeks during the July-September period and involve online studies equivalent to 18 hours of class time per week, Monday-Friday.
  • Most students taking these courses do so as a requirement of their degree course offers.
  • Some students who are not required to take these courses do so in order to even better prepare themselves for their future studies.
  • Although the majority of students will go on to study at SOAS, students destined for other colleges of the University of London and other universities are welcome to attend too, if there are spaces available.


The pre-sessional courses cater for the needs of students going on to degrees, in which essay-writing is an important component, so bear in mind that:

  • Writing researched and extended essays are important parts of the coursework. Students will be guided in how to read extensively outside the classroom environment using e-learning materials, Internet and Library resources. Students will then be expected to apply these skills in their own writing and to take an active part in tutorial feedback and forum discussions.
  • Students will receive regular 1:1 feedback on their work from their teachers.



The Pre-sessional courses are designed to support you reaching the exit level required by your academic department. Assessment is built into the course design and will include:

  • writing a Researched Extended Essay
  • an individual Presentation related to your subject area
  • a test of Academic Listening


Please note that in addition to the requirements above, all students must achieve or maintain an English language level of B2 (Common European Framework).


IMPORTANT: In order to successfully complete the on-line Pre-sessional course, you will need to fulfil a minimum attendance and engagement requirement of 90%, submit all required course-work to given deadlines, as well as achieving the grade specific to your study level in assessment.


This is an intensive training course on-line, so you are required to:

  • have the time to study for the required 25 – 30 hours each week of the course; inclusive of guided tuition (18 hours/week) and self-study/assignment work
  • have access to the technology to allow you to follow the course delivered on-line; including a lap-top or PC, audio/mic, a web-cam, headphones and Internet connectivity with a minimum bandwidth of 600kbps (up/down), with a recommended speed of 1.5 Mbps (up/down)


Course Dates and Fees 2020

8-week Pre-sessional Course B (Online): Monday, 27 July - Friday, 18 September
Tuition Fee: £3900 GBP

4-week Pre-sessional Course A (Online): Monday, 27 July - Friday, 21 August  
4-week Pre-sessional Course B (Online): Monday, 24 August - Friday, 18 September
Tuition Fee: £2300 GBP


The 8 week courses consist of 144 hours of online guided tuition and the 4 week courses consist of 72 hours: this will be a combination of directed activities and exercises scheduled Monday to Friday, and virtual classroom teaching and tutorials according to the week’s timetable. The timetable will be arranged to suit the participants’ time-zones.

The content of course A and course B for the 4-week Pre-sessional is the same. Course A is run from an earlier date for the convenience of students who require an earlier finishing date, for example those who also have a requirement to do a  preparatory course as part of their Master's Programme (e.g. Law, Economics and Finance).

Students will need to pay their fees online as soon as they have accepted the offer of a place on a Pre-sessional course to guarantee their place on the course. More information about fees, refunds etc can be found on our Terms and Conditions page.


Undergraduate and Postgraduate Applications

In light of the current situation with the global Coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent closure of IELTS UKVI test centres, the UK government is currently allowing universities to accept non-SELT as well as SELT (Secure English Language Test) qualifications as proof of English language proficiency for students who require a visa to study in the UK.

SOAS accepts a variety of English language tests from visa and non-visa applicants, such as IELTS Academic, TOEFL IBT/TOEFL at Home, Pearson Academic Test of English or Duolingo. The scores below apply to undergraduate and postgraduate taught admissions for entry with an integrated Pre-sessional requirement.

Please note: Doctoral School Admissions requirements are slightly different and Doctoral School Admissions entry points are listed further down this page. Please scroll down to see them.


IELTS Academic 6.5 overall and the following minimum scores in each skill: Listening: 5.5
Reading: 5.5
Writing: 6.0
Speaking: 6.0
6.0 overall and the following minimum scores in each skill: Listening: 5.5
Reading: 5.5
Writing: 5.5
Speaking: 5.5
TOEFL IBT 95 overall and the following minimum scores in each skill: Listening: 18
Reading: 18
Writing: 21
Speaking: 21
90 overall and the following minimum scores in each skill: Listening: 18
Reading: 18
Writing: 18
Speaking: 20
PTE Academic 65 overall and the following minimum scores in each skill: Listening: 55
Reading: 55
Writing: 60
Speaking: 60
60 overall and the following minimum scores in each skill: Listening: 55
Reading: 55
Writing: 55
Speaking: 55
Duolingo 110 100
ELAS (English Language and Academic Studies, Diploma or Certificate course)  68-69%  63-67%
Foundation programmes IFCELS  55-58% N/A


Note: The scores in the table above relate to the absolute minimum score that must be achieved for a particular skill. In order to achieve the minimum overall score for Admissions requirements, most sub-skill scores will need to exceed the minimums listed. Please ensure your test scores meet these criteria before applying.


Doctoral School Applications

As many UKVI-approved IELTS test centres continue to be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Doctoral School Pre-sessional applicants who require a visa to study in the UK may now provide either a SELT or non-SELT score as proof of English language proficiency. The minimum scores are shown in the table below:


Entry Requirements for Pre-sessional Courses (Tier 4 Visa, EEA, EU) 

IELTS Academic 7.0 overall with 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.0 in other sub-scores
6.5 overall with
6.5 in writing and 6.0 in other sub-scores.
6.0 overall with 6.0 in writing, 5.5 in reading and 5.0 in other sub-scores.
TOEFL IBT 100 overall with
20+ in all sub-scores
95 overall and no less than 22 in reading and writing and 20 in other sub-scores.
90 – 94 overall
with 20+ in all sub-scores.
PTE Academic 65 overall with 65 in writing and 60 in other sub-scores 60 overall with 60 in writing and 55 in other sub-scores.
Duolingo 110 100


For all questions relating to immigration and visa requirements for your Pre-Sessional programme, please send your email to Please include your full name and SOAS University student reference number in all correspondence. You can also find information in the Visa and Accommodation FAQ's booklet


Non-SOAS Degree Applicants

Please complete and submit the application form as above, together with details of your current English language level. If you have a conditional offer from another UK university, please check with them that they will accept this Pre-sessional course in preparation for your degree.


If you have a question relating to payment of your Pre-Sessional accommodation fees, please send your email to