SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

International Foundation Programme (ICC)

Duration: 10 months

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Apply/Fees


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Who is this programme for?:

To apply, use the ICC Application Form 2020 (pdf; 151kb)  .  The ICC brochure has more information about the programme

The ICC International Foundation programme is designed for international students for whom English is not a first language and who want to study for an undergraduate degree at a British university.

You may need to complete a foundation programme if either of the two conditions below apply to you:

  • You have finished school in your own country, but your school-leaving certificate does not qualify you for direct entry to a UK university.
  • You have been wholly or partly educated in an English-medium school but have not achieved the A-level, IB or AP grades needed for university entrance because of language difficulties.
2017-18 Prizewinners

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

Weishi Chen,  ICC Achievement Prize Winner 2017-18

"My year at SOAS was such a great joy. What's more, all of the teachers there were excellent and treated their jobs with extraordinary passion. They helped me build up my confidence and learn to study by myself, which, I believe, will give me lifelong benefit. Studying at SOAS ICC is certainly one of the best choices I have ever made."

Weishi Chen,  ICC Achievement Prize Winner 2017-18

Now studying BSc Economics and Statistics at UCL

Jiyeong Seo, ICC Progress Prize Winner 2017-18

"I wasn’t familiar with either of the subjects I chose for my optional modules (Economics and Development Studies), but by the end of the year, I definitely had a much firmer grasp and could debate issues with confidence. The structure of the programme and informative lectures helped me to navigate difficult topics and made learning all the more interesting and interactive."

Jiyeong Seo, ICC Progress Prize Winner 2017-18

Now studying BSc Population Health at UCL

Special features of the programme include:

  • a wide range of academic subjects and a flexible structure which allows students to create their own 'pathway'
  • 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 in a department with over 30 years experience of running International Foundation programmes
  • extensive individual support provided to our students through regular one-to-one meetings with lecturers, teachers, personal tutors, 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
  • 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
  • guaranteed offers for all SOAS undergraduate degrees

Progressing to Undergraduate Study

Students who achieve a minimum level of academic and English language performance on the ICC Foundation programme are guaranteed progression to SOAS for undergraduate study (subject to satisfying eligibility requirements), and will receive a 5% discount in all 3 years of undergraduate study. However the ICC Certificate award from the University of London is recognised by UK universities as an entrance qualification for undergraduate degree programmes and our Academic Advice Team provides one-to-one support with every stage of the undergraduate application procedure.

See the ICC Brochure for more information
Undergraduate Foundation Course ICC Brochure (pdf; 1732kb)

The Intermediate Certificate Course (ICC) International Foundation programme is a 10-month programme providing academic and English language preparation for international students who want to enter undergraduate degrees in Social Sciences, Finance and Management-related studies, and Arts and Humanities at UK universities,

Since the ICC International Foundation programme was started in 1985 over 2000 of our students have progressed to undergraduate study at institutions in the University of London, and over the UK.

High-ranking British universities recognise the ICC International Foundation 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.


Programme Aims

  • to help students gain entry to degree programmes at SOAS and other British universities in the humanities, social sciences, law and business-related studies
  • to give students the linguistic and academic skills needed to be successful on a degree programme
  • to increase the range of undergraduate subject areas accessible to students through subject-based English language tuition
  • 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.

Summer vacation term

Students who need to improve their reading and writing skills before tackling the academic modules on ICC, will be asked to take the summer vacation term.
Using a combination of intensive language study, frequent controlled practice and close monitoring by an English tutor, students will achieve a sound basis of reading and writing skills which will enable them to approach their future study programme with confidence. A feature of the term is regular one-to-one tutorials with the teacher in order to address a student’s individual problems and a focus on drafting, proofreading and redrafting writing to achieve grammatical accuracy.

The Summer Vacation term is 6 weeks long and students have 18 hours of classes a week.

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 6 to 10 students. These are led by an academic lecturer. Students also attend Academic English module classes, typically in a group of 8 to 12 and a maximum of 14, and English support classes connected to their academic subject modules.

The Four Study Modules

Students take four modules for the whole period of the programme:

All students are required to study 2 compulsory modules:
Students choose an additional 2 academic elective modules from the list below:

Programme Assessment

Students are assessed through coursework and final examinations.
Coursework – students complete a term assignment in each of their academic modules. This may be a structured written assignment, an essay, a case study, a group presentation or a mark given for their seminar performance and participation. They also write timed essays for their Intensive English for Academic Study module.
Examinations – students sit final written examinations for each of their academic subject modules. They also take a final written and oral examination for their Intensive English for Academic Study module





Application Information


August and September entry points

ICC has entry points in early August and mid-September. Students who need to focus on their reading and writing skills before they start the academic subject modules will be asked to join the programme in August.


Academic Requirements

You should have successfully completed high school in your own country with good grades in a range of subjects. We do not have fixed minimum academic requirements since we test and interview all applicants to ensure that they are suitable for the programme and have the potential to achieve their study goals.


English Language Requirements

You need to have an intermediate level of English before starting the programme. Preparatory English language programmes in the department start in September, January and April and during the summer there is a range of summer courses offering academic subject study together with English language classes.


Entrance Test

When we receive your application and supporting documents we will look at them carefully and then decide if we will consider you for a place on ICC. We will assess your application by interview, either face-to-face in London or in your own country, or by Skype, WeChat or telephone. We may also ask you to take all or part of our entrance test, depending on your English level. See here for details of test dates and venues. The following tests and levels can be used to show that you meet our English language requirements:
• GCSE English Language grade C
• IELTS 5.5 with 5 in the writing section
• Cambridge First Certificate in English grade C
• Pearson PTE Academic: 36 in each sub-score
• iBT TOEFL 76 with 12 in writing


Tier 4 Student Visas

ICC applicants who require a student visa and need to provide evidence of their English level must achieve CEFR B1 level in an IELTS for UKVI test (4.0 in each sub-score) . Please note: iBT TOEFL and Pearson PTE Academic are no longer approved tests for visa purposes and IELTS scores must be from a UKVI test. Check here for a list of IELTS for UKVI test centres.


How to Apply


Please print and complete the ICC Application Form 2020 (pdf; 151kb)  . Then e-mail it as an attachment to us at OR post it, together with the required supporting documents, to:

Head of Department
International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG UK



Programme Dates
  • ICC: Tuesday 22 September 2020-Friday 2 July 2021
  • ICC Plus: Monday 3 August 2020-Friday 2 July 2021


Term Dates
  • Summer Vacation Term (ICC Plus): 3 August-11 September 2020
  • Introductory Course: 22-29 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)




  • ICC Early Bird Discount: £19,250*
  • ICC full fee: £19,750 (September entry)
  • ICC Plus Early Bird Discount: £22,150*
  • ICC Plus full fee: £22,650 (July entry)

* Early Bird Discount applies for offers accepted and all fees paid within one month of the offer date and before 31 May 2020.



For details visit the IFCELS Accommodation page.


Late Application Fee

Applications received on or after 1 May 2020 will incur a late application fee of £90.00.



The attendance requirement for this programme is 80%.


Additional Costs

You may be required to purchase books for some modules. Students taking the World Art module may be required to pay for some gallery visits where there is an entrance charge.

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

Please see the full Terms and Conditions