English language requirements

All 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.

SOAS reserves the right to request additional evidence of English Language Proficiency.

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:

  • you are a UK national (we reserve the right to request further English evidence)
  • 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 are a national from a UKVI defined MESC who has successfully completed a high school qualification, including an English language qualification that is equivalent to GCSE.
  • 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.

Doctoral School Applications

Please see the Doctoral School English Language Requirements for English admissions to research degrees, which are slightly different from those for Undergraduate and Postgraduate entry.

Online testing

We continue to accept the following online English language tests for September 2024 entry only (2-year validity from September 1st 2022):

Please note we do not accept: Duolingo. Pearson Academic Online or TOEFL Essentials tests for taught programmes. We also are not currently accepting LanguageCert or Skills for English and prefer to see one of the recommended academic English tests.

Direct entry

Test Overall Subscores
IELTS Academic/for UKVI/ Online 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 20 in speaking, 18 in all other 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 starts).

We also offer In-sessional courses to support you when you start your academic year at SOAS.

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. If you are a national of one of the Majority English speaking countries as defined by the UKVI, you may not be required to complete an additional English language test.

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:

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, TOEFL At Home or IELTS Academic Online. 

Additional guidance

  • SOAS provides free, non-credit bearing 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 pathway courses, 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.