SOAS University of London

International Students

English Language Requirements

Updates regarding closure of English language testing centres due to the Covid-19 virus.

The University has released a statement in response to changes being made to the list of qualifications the UK government considers Secure English Language Tests (SELTs):

Changes to UK government Secure English Language Tests

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Failure to meet the language requirements exactly may result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate this if your scores are below our required levels. It is important that you plan appropriately, and well in advance, so that you will have time to retake your English language test if necessary. Note that we do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking a test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic or UKVI PTE Academic test as the test of first resort. We understand that this may be difficult currently for which reason please see our announcement in regard to the Covid-19 siutation above. Please note that our deadline for test submission is May 31st 2021.

Research students

Please note that while undergraduate and postgraduate English entry requirements at SOAS are set at the same level, requirements for students wishing to enrol onto a Research degree are slightly different. The information listed below is for undergraduate and postgraduate English language admissions. Please go to Doctoral Admissions web pages for more information or look at the test score pages.

For further information please see English Language Requirements Frequently Asked Questions.

Distance Learning students

Please note that international distance learning applicants must achieve direct unconditional entry level scores in their English qualifications as In-sessional and Pre-sessional support are not available to them. Distance learning here does not refer to onine learning going on currently in the Covid-19 situation, but to regular SOAS distance learning courses.

There are three different types of offer for international students: Unconditional offers, Integrated offers with Pre-sessionals and conditional offers.

Unconditional offers

These offers are made where the student has fully met the English language requirements for direct entry. In this case a preparatory course before enrolment (called a 'Pre-sessional') is not necessary. However, in some cases, students will be recommended to take an In-sessional course during their time of academic study: these are extra English language and skills courses that students take alongside their regular academic study at no extra cost. For unconditional offers we can use a range of methods to assess English language levels, such as those listed below, and a SELT is not usually required.

Integrated offers with unconditional Pre-sessionals

These unconditional offers are made to undergraduate and postgraduate applicants when the applicant has met the English language levels necessary to qualify for a four or eight week unconditional Pre-sessional course, which takes place in the summer before the start of a degree programme. In these cases, we can use our own methods to assess the applicants' English level, such as those indicated in the list below, and a SELT is not required for visa students to enter onto this course. After completing the Pre-sessional course, students must be seen to have achieved a strong B2 level. Only once this has been achieved can the student advance to a degree course. 

Conditional offers

There are two types of conditional offers:

The first type is where the English conditions for direct entry have not been met. These students will be required to take an English test such as the TOEFL IBT At Home test or the Duolingo test so that they are able to meet requirements for progression to an unconditional offer or an integrated Pre-sessional offer.

The second type is where the academic conditions for progression have not yet been met. 

In both cases the student will need to meet these conditions before being able to progress to the full degree programme.

Acceptable English language qualifications

Details of many of the English language qualifications that we accept, and the respective minimum scores, are provided below. A detailed breakdown of all English language test scores for unconditional, integrated and conditional offers can also be found on the English Admissions Test scores page.

Please note that, in assessing whether you have sufficient English language to successfully complete your course, we consider these qualifications alongside other evidence of English language ability. This evidence may be included in your application, such as your references, curriculum vitae or personal statement.

While occasionally an exemption is made on the basis of work experience or personal history or the quality of references, we are normally looking for our language requirements to be met exactly. For more information please see our FAQs.

If your qualification is not included in the lists below, or if you require further information, please look at our FAQ pages. If an answer cannot be found there, please contact English Language Admissions at For details of English language teaching and resources at SOAS, such as In-sessional, Pre-sessional, Diploma or Foundation courses please visit the IFCELS web pages.

Acceptable qualifications with variable requirements

Examples of the levels of achievement necessary for direct entry for 2020 academic year are given below. The following is a basic guide to our English admissions and SOAS reserves the right to apply the criteria at its own discretion in all cases. 

If you are presenting one of the qualifications listed in this table, it should have been completed no more than two years before the start date of your SOAS course.

More detailed information for different levels of entry for popular language tests can be found on the English test score page.

IELTS Academic 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in reading, listening and speaking
PTE Academic 65 overall with 65 in writing and 60 in reading, listening and speaking
TOEFL IBT 100 overall with 23 in writing and 21 in reading, listening and speaking

Other pathways are available for entry into SOAS, for example via Pre-sessional courses. 

 Test Minimum level for entry into 8 week Pre-sessional course (UG and PG)
IELTS Academic 6.0 overall with 5.5 in all subscores
PTE Academic 60 overall with 55 in all subscores
TOEFL IBT 90 overall with 20 in speaking and 18 in all other subscores 

Details about requirements for other Pre-sessional courses can be found on the SOAS Pre-sessional web pages and the English Admissions Test scores page.

Other acceptable qualifications

SOAS IFCELS programmes (for more information visit the IFCELS web pages

Programme Grade
3 year undergraduate degree from a UKVI listed country, in social science or arts and humanities, not a STEM subject, not an applied subject

2.2 or higher

(please see FAQs for more information)

SOAS ELAS 70% in Academic English (In-sessional)
SOAS FDPS Pre-Masters 60% in Academic English
SOAS ICC Foundation course 60% in Academic English

Other International Language tests

Test Level for acceptance and validity (2 year or open)
Cambridge Advanced English Exam (CAE) A unconditional, B, C with an In-sessional recommendation. 2 year validity.
Cambridge Proficiency English Exam (CPE) A, B unconditional, C with an In-sessional recommendation. Open validity.
EB English All levels: 8 in English as either an Obligatory Subject (Language I or II) or as a Full Option (Language III or IV). Open validity.
IB English Standard or Higher Syllabus B 4 unconditional.  Open validity.
IB English Standard or Higher Syllabus A 5 unconditional, 4 with In-sessional recommendation. Open validity.
IFP Academic English module 70% unconditional, 65% with In-sessional recommendation 2 years validity. At discretion.
Trinity ISE II Pass with Distinction/Merit  (Pre-sessional entry) 2 year validity.
Trinity ISE III Pass with Distinction/Merit with In-sessional recommendation, 2 year validity.
Trinity ISE IV Pass Unconditional. 2 year validity.
TOEFL PBT 620 with 5 in TWE and 60 in subscores Unconditional. 2 year validity

UK Qualifications (generally open validity, at discretion)

 Test Grades
A level 2 good grades (A-C) in Arts and Humanities or Social Science subjects. Open validity.
Access Distinction (goes to In-sessional). 2 year validity.
GCSE, IGCSE, O Level English A unconditional, B or C with In-sessional recommendation. Open validity.
IB Diploma 2 good grades in Arts and Humanities or Social Science subjects, 4+. Open validity.
NVQ, SVQ 5 unconditional, 4 In-sessional. At discretion.

EU Qualifications (generally open validity, at discretion)

 Test  Grades
Austrian Matura/Reifeprufung, 2 (gut) in English when both written and oral examinations have been taken.
Denmark Studentereksamen  10 unconditional, 9 Insessional.
Estonia Matura 5 unconditional, 4 Insessional.
Finnish Ylioppilastutkinto/Studentexamen matriculation examination. 5 (magna cum laude approbatur) in English at the Advanced Level, 4 Insessional.
French Baccalaureat OIB Bilingual 12 unconditional, 11 Insessional.
French Baccalaureat General in English 16 unconditional, 15 Insessional.
German Abitur English (main course) 13 unconditional, 10 Insessional.
Holland VWO 8-10 Unconditional, 7 Insessional.
Iceland Studentsprof matriculation examination, English 8 when taken as a compulsory modern language.
Latvia Matura  5 unconditional, 4 Insessional.
Luxembourgish High School 45
Norwegian Vitnemal English 5 unconditional, 4 Insessional.
Swedish Fullstandigt fran Gymnasieskolan, English A unconditional, B Insessional.
Switzerland Maturitatzeugnis/Certificat de Maturite/Attestato de Maturita 5 (gut/bien/bene), 4 Insessional.

International Qualifications (generally open validity, at discretion)

 Test  Grades
Cambridge International GCSE/ O level exams, English eg Singapore A unconditional, B,C Insessional
Cameroon O level English language A unconditional, B, C Insessional
HKALE A, B unconditional, C Insessional
HKDSE 5**, 5*, unconditional, 5 Insessional
Indian XII English (all recognised state boards) 80% unconditional, 70% Insessional
Kenya Secondary Education Certificate English language A unconditional, B, C Insessional
Malta Secondary Education Certificate English 1, 2 unconditiona, 3, 4 Insessional
South African Nat Senior School Cert English (Home Language) 6 unconditional, 5 Insessional
US High School Diploma Pass.
West African High School Certificate A1 unconditional, B2 B3 C4 Insessional.
Zimbabwe High School Leaving Certificate English 1, 2 unconditional, 3,4 Insessional
Zimbabwe O level English language A unconditional, B, C Insessional

Qualifications not accepted

  • 2+2 degree (2 yrs in UK following 2 yrs in non native speaker country)
  • Cambridge Business Exams
  • CELTA English teaching qualifications
  • ESOL Skills for Life
  • FCE Cambridge First Certificate
  • GMAT
  • GRE
  • Interpreting license
  • Translation license
  • IGCSE/ GCSE English 2nd language
  • Michigan Test of English Language Proficiency
  • Oxford International Business English Certificate
  • PTE Cambridge Preparatory Test of English
  • PTE Vantage
  • TOEIC test

 If you have any further questions please see your English Language Requirements Frequently Asked Questions.