SOAS University of London

International Students

English Language Requirements

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. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English 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 test as the test of first resort.

Research students

Please note that while Undergraduate and Postgraduate English entry requirements at SOAS are set at the same level, Research English requirements 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.

3 different types of offer for international students

Unconditional offers

These offers are made where the student has fully met the English conditions for direct entry without a preparatory English course. A preparatory course before enrolment is not necessary. In some cases students will be recommended to take an In-sessional Orientation course or one of a variety of In-sessional courses during their time of academic study. These courses are provided at no extra cost. For these 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. 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. B2 level must be achieved on completion of the Pre-sessional course in all cases and the student needs to pass the relevant progression points of the unconditional integrated Pre-sessional in order to advance to the degree course.

Conditional offers

There are two types of conditional offers:

  1. The first is where the English conditions for direct entry have not been met. These students will be required to take 12 week conditional Pre-sessional course. They must pass this course in order to progress to their main academic course. In this case, for visa students, a SELT must be submitted such as the UKVI IELTS form a UKVI approved test centre. For non- visa students, such as those from EU, other test evidence may be submitted. B1 or B2 CEFR must have been achieved in all cases.
  2. The second is where the academic conditions for progression have not yet been met.

In both cases the student will need to meet conditions before being able to progress to the full degree programme, which may mean submitting two Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies certificates (CAS).. In some cases where only B1 level of English has been achieved, only one CAS may be required, providing academic conditions have also been met.

Acceptable English language qualifications

Details of many of the English language qualifications, and minimum scores, that we accept for study 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 which may be included in your application, such as your references, personal history 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 and then if an answer cannot be found, 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.

The following is a basic guide to our English admissions, but SOAS reserves the right to apply the criteria at its own discretion in all cases.

Acceptable qualifications with variable requirements

Examples of the levels of achievement necessary for direct entry and entry with Pre-sessional condition are given below. More detailed information for different levels of entry can be found on the English Test scores page.

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.

Test Minimum level for direct entry
(with a one week In-sessional orientation course recommendation)
IELTS Academic 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and speaking and 6.0 in   reading and listening
PTE Academic 65 overall with 65 in writing and speaking and 60 in reading and listening
TOEFL IBT 100 overall with 23 in writing and speaking and 21 in reading and listening

Other pathways are available for entry into SOAS, for example via Pre-sessional courses. Please note visa students will need to submit the UKVI IELTS for entry onto a 12 week Pre-sessional course as a further example:

 Test Minimum level for entry into 12 week Pre-sessional course
IELTS Academic 6.0 overall with 5.5 in writing and no other score less than 5.0
PTE Academic 55 overall with 55 in writing and no other score below 50
TOEFL IBT 85 overall with 20 in writing and no other score below 18

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
ELAS 70% in Academic English (In-sessional)
FDPS Pre-Masters 60% in Academic English
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, B with an Insessional requirement. 2 year validity.
Cambridge Proficiency English Exam (CPE) A, B unconditional, C with an In-sessional requirement. 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 requirement. Open validity.
IFP Academic English module 70% unconditional, 65% with In-sessional requirement 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 requirement, 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
Indian XII English (all recognised state boards) 80% unconditional, 70% Insessional.
HKALE A, B unconditional, C Insessional.
HKDSE 5**, 5*, unconditional, 5 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
  • IELTS General English Test
  • 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
  • TOEIC test

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