UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Pre-sessional English Courses

UCL Pre-sessional English Courses are intensive and academically challenging courses normally intended for international students who are planning to study a graduate degree (MA, MSc, LLM or MPhil/PhD) at UCL or another UK university, but do not meet the English language requirement of their conditional offer. We also accept applications from unconditional offer holders and undergraduates.

Entry requirements

Which Pre-sessional English course you can apply for depends on:

  • Your current level of English
  • The English level required for your future degree course

Who the courses are for

  • The 19-week course is for students aiming to enrol at UCL or another UK university
  • The 6-, 8- and 12-week courses are for students holding an offer for a UCL degree (conditional or unconditional)
  • UCL Institute of Education (IOE) degree offer holders interested in doing a short pre-sessional course should apply for the separate UCL Institute of Education Preparation for Academic Studies in Higher Education courses. IOE degree offer holders (or prospective IOE degree applicants) needing a course longer than 12 weeks can apply for the 19-week Pre-sessional Course. If successful, students will study their first seven weeks of the course with UCL Centre for Languages and International Education, and then transfer to the 12-week IOE preparation course.

Students with conditional offers for UCL degree courses will be required to achieve a Standard, Good or Advanced level of English. You can check the English level required for your degree course on the UCL graduate or undergraduate prospectus.

LLM students should be aware of the special entry requirements advertised on their website. LLM students who qualify for an 8- or 6-week Pre-sessional may want to consider taking the 12-week course to allow more time to meet these requirements.

English language requirements

 19-week Pre-sessional      12-week Pre-sessional  8-week Pre-sessional6-week Pre-sessional  
No UCL offer for a degree course5.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in three subscores and no less than 4.5 in the other subscore)
Not eligibleNot eligibleNot eligible
UCL Standard level5.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in three subscores and no less than 4.5 in the other subscore)
5.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in three subscores and no less than 5.5 in the other subscore)
5.5 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in all subscores)
6.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.5 in all subscores)
UCL Good level5.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in all subscores)
5.5 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in all subscores)
6.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.5 in all subscores)
6.5 IELTS overall
(No less than 6.0 in all subscores)

UCL Advanced level
and UCL Master of Laws (LLM)

5.5 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.0 in all subscores)
6.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.5 in all subscores)
6.5 IELTS overall
(No less than 5.5 in all subscores)
7.0 IELTS overall
(No less than 6.0 in all subscores)

Course structure

The Pre-sessional English courses are academically challenging and intensive, with teaching taking place from Monday to Friday, in either the morning or the afternoon. Class sizes are kept small, with a maximum of 14 students in each class. The Pre-sessional English courses provide a minimum of 16 UCL teaching contact hours per week (excluding breaks and calculated using the UCL class 'hour' of 50 minutes). You are also expected to spend significantly more hours working on assignments and self-study tasks in the Self-Access Centre or from home using the Self Access Centre website.

Our sample Pre-sessional timetable provides a guide to the structure of the course.

Tuesday afternoon - guest lecturers

On Tuesday afternoons, students attend a lecture on a range of topics of general academic interest. These lectures are given by UCL academic staff and visiting lecturers and provide practice in listening to a live lecture and taking notes. The lectures are chosen to reflect the degree programmes that students are hoping to progress to after the Pre-sessional course.

Our sample Pre-sessional lecture programme provides a taste of the topics covered.

Weekly tutorials

You have a weekly 20-minute one-to-one or 30-minute small group tutorial with your teacher, during which you can discuss progress on the course, your assignments, and receive feedback on your work.

Your learning

The course is designed to help you meet the English language entry requirements of your degree course and to prepare you for the academic environment you will meet in your future studies. Classes focus on developing your English language proficiency and academic literacy. Course components include opportunities to:

  • Develop your skills in understanding and analysing academic texts and use them in writing and speaking
  • Help you more fully understand lectures while taking effective notes
  • Listen to lectures delivered by academics and other experts
  • Improve your ability to speak in academic contexts, with emphasis on oral presentations and seminars
  • Develop your ability to write relevant, well-argued essays in an academic style
  • Develop your ability to select, use and reference appropriate academic sources
  • Develop your critical thinking skills
  • Build up your independent study and library-based research skills as required at UK universities.


Conditional offer holders will need to achieve an overall pass in all assessments according to our assessment criteria to pass the course. Unconditional offer holders need to achieve an overall pass in the extended essay and oral presentation.

The assessment involves:

  • Integrated reading and writing exam
  • Extended essay on an academic topic within your field of study
  • Oral presentation and a question and answer session on an aspect of research related to your extended essay.
  • Listening exam

Your teachers

You will be taught by a number of approachable and highly-qualified UCL academic staff with experience and expertise in preparing international students for graduate degree level study.

Fees and expenses

CourseFees (2020)
19 weeks£8,995
12 weeks£6,650
8 weeks£5,650
6 weeks£4,320

Course fees include the costs of all course tuition (including some course books), access to the UCL IT network with Internet and e-mail facilities and research rights at UCL libraries. Details of how to pay your fees can be found in the how to apply section.

Social programme

Further details for the 2020 Pre-sessional social programme will appear here in due course. 

Living expenses

In addition to paying your tuition fees, you will also need to consider how you are going to meet your living costs while you are studying. Funds will be required to cover the costs of your accommodation, food and travel, as well as other costs associated with your studies, such as books, and everyday life, such as clothes and entertainment.

All students should be aware that they will probably incur initial expenses such as a deposit for accommodation and purchase of books. International students may also need to buy clothing suitable for the British climate.

More information can also be found on UCL International Student Support webpages.

Start dates

CourseStart date
19 weeks20 April 2020
12 weeks8 June 2020
8 weeks6 July 2020
6 weeks20 July 2020

All Pre-sessional courses finish on 11 September. Course dates include examination results and course administration. Tuition and examinations end no later than 31 August 2020. 

Progression to graduate level

92% of CLIE Pre-sessional English students progressed to a UCL degree programme after successfully passing the Pre-sessional course in 2019.

UCL degrees

The UCL Pre-sessional English qualification is recognised as satisfying UCL’s English language proficiency requirement.

If you are on the 12-, 8- and 6-week courses, you will already hold an offer (conditional or unconditional) for a UCL degree programme.

The majority of students enrolled on the 19-week course will be aiming to study a degree programme at UCL. The Centre's Education Advisor can offer help and advice on submitting degree applications to these students.

Other universities

If you hold an offer from a university other than UCL, you should make sure that UCL’s Pre-sessional English Course examination result will be acceptable. A comprehensive end-of-course report, with the breakdown of final results, is provided to everyone so this information gives your prospective university a detailed picture of your English language profile. If you are applying to courses at universities which do not accept results from the UCL Pre-sessional course as qualification for your English language requirements, we advise you to take an IELTS test in central London.

Further information

Application process - student looking at computer screen

How to apply

Find out how you can apply for the UCL Pre-sessional English courses, including the documents you will need to submit, how to pay and important visa information.

Two pre-sessional English students discussing in class

Student views

Our students come from a diverse range of backgrounds and go on to study a variety of different graduate courses at UCL and other top universities. Find out what our Pre-sessional English alumni thought about the course.

Student on their laptop in their accommodation/room


A number of different types of accommodation are available to CLIE students, the majority of which is within 10–30 minutes’ walk of the main campus.