English language requirements


All international applicants must be able to show that their English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete their course at SOAS.

If you have not yet taken an English language test, you can still apply for your degree, but we will include evidence of language requirements as part of your offer conditions. In all cases we consider the most recent test evidence. You can demonstrate English language ability in several ways.


You do not need to provide evidence of your English language ability if any of the following apply:

  • nationals from a government recognised Majority English Speaking Country (MESC)  who have successfully completed high school or a degree in the respective country
  • you’ve completed a degree in the UK or in any Majority English Speaking Country (UKVI defined) within the last 10 years
  • you’ve completed a degree that was taught in English from Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, or South Africa (and from certain recognised English-medium universities) if graduation is within the last 10 years
  • you’ve completed a SOAS Pre-Masters or International Foundation (60% in Academic English) or ELAS programme (70% in Academic English) within 2 years of entry.
  • you’ve passed a Pre-sessional English course at a UK university (2-year validity).

Test scores

Details of many of the English language qualifications that we accept with minimum scores for Undergraduate and Postgraduate applicants are provided below. We consider these qualifications alongside other evidence of English language ability, such as your references, curriculum vitae or personal statement.

Covid-19 update for 2023 intake

Following on from the pandemic, when it was difficult to access test centres, we continue to accept the following online English language tests for September 2023 entry only (2-year validity from September 1 2021):

Please note we do not accept Duolingo or TOEFL Essentials tests for taught programmes. We also are not currently accepting LanguageCert and prefer to see academic English tests.

Direct entry

Test Overall Subscores
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Indicator 6.5 minimum 6.0 in all subscores
PTE Academic 65 minimum 60 in all subscores
TOEFL iBT ('My Best Scores' not accepted) 95 23 in writing, 20 in other subscores
IELCA Academic 35

35 in writing, 30 in other subscores

Password Skills Plus 6.5 minimum 6.0 in all subscores

With 4-week pre-sessional English

Test Overall Subscores
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Indicator 6.0 6.0 in writing, 5.5 in other subscores 
PTE Academic 62 60 in writing, 59 in other subscores 
TOEFL iBT ('My Best Scores' are not accepted) 92 20 in writing and speaking, 18 in listening and reading
IELCA Academic 30 30 in writing, 25 in other subscores
Password Skills Plus 6.0 6.0 in writing, 5.5 in other subscores

With 8-week pre-sessional English

Test Overall Subscores
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Indicator 5.5 5.5 in all subscores
PTE Academic 60 59 in all subscores
TOEFL iBT ('My Best Scores' are not accepted) 85 18 in all subscores
IELCA Academic 25 25 in all subscores
Password Skills Plus 5.5  5.5 in all subscores

Alternative qualifications

In addition to the tests listed above, we also accept a range of alternative qualifications to demonstrate evidence of English Language proficiency. Generally, these have 5-year validity, but some may have a 2-year validity.

Pre-sessional English

If you do not meet the English Language Requirements for your course in full, you may be offered a 4-week or 8-week Pre-sessional English course (which happens in the summer before the academic year).

In-sessional and Pre-sessional English courses are not available for Distance Learning applicants.

Visa requirements and SELT

Applicants who require a Student Visa must prove their knowledge of the English language when applying. As a higher education provider, SOAS can assess your level of English using a variety of tests and qualifications. However, you may be asked to provide evidence of a secure English language test (SELT) as part of your Student Visa application.

For this reason, we recommend all applicants who plan to apply for a Student Visa where possible choose one of the following approved SELTs:

We prefer the above SELTS to the LanguageCert or Skills for English tests as we wish to see academic English tests rather than general English tests. 

As indicated, as an approved institution we are also able to accept tests and qualifications for exemption from the need to take UKVI SELTS, including for example, IELTS Academic, Pearson Academic online, TOEFL At Home or IELTS Academic Online.

Additional guidance

  • SOAS provides free In-sessional English and study skills courses which are available to all international applicants whose first language is not English. 
  • Degrees from majority English speaking countries or English-medium universities are valid for a limited number of years before the start date of SOAS degree programme.
  • Where applicants have submitted more than one piece of evidence of English (e.g. an IELTS test and a degree from a majority English speaking country) we follow the most recent evidence.
  • Please visit the IFCELS web pages for details of English language teaching and resources at SOAS, such as In-sessional, Pre-sessional, ELAS (English Language and Academic Studies) or Foundation courses (pre-undergraduate and pre-masters).
  • The information provided on this page is a basic guide to our English admissions and SOAS reserves the right to apply the criteria at its own discretion in all cases.