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, but do not meet the English language requirement of their conditional offer. We also accept applications from unconditional offer holders and undergraduates.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - changes to 2020 Pre-sessional English courses (updated March 2020)

The 2020 CLIE Pre-sessional programme will be delivered online in accordance with UCL precautionary measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak.  All students will now study and be assessed online via platforms supported by UCL, including Moodle, Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams.

The course aims and content are the same (please see below) and will prepare you for your future academic studies in the same way as the face-to-face course, but the materials have been adapted for online delivery.

Your scheduled timetable will be 16 hours per week and will feature virtual face-to-face time with your teacher in seminars and small group tutorials, as well as working collaboratively with your study group and independently on set tasks.

You will:

  • be part of a virtual class;
  • contribute to discussion forums with your class;
  • collaborate on set tasks with your study group;
  • work independently on assignments;
  • participate in six hours of online face-to-face seminars per week of between six and eight students;
  • have a weekly 30 minute group tutorial with up to four students;
  • receive support and feedback on key assignments in one-to-one tutorials;
  • be expected to undertake a reasonable amount of independent study.


Successful completion of the Pre-sessional Courses will continue to meet UCL’s English language requirement.

If you are a conditional offer holder, you will need to achieve an overall pass in all Pre-sessional assessments according to our assessment criteria to pass the course, and will need to meet the English language requirement stated in your offer letter in order to progress to your chosen UCL department.

You’ll be assessed as usual in each of the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, and will be expected to complete a reflective writing task during the final week of the course.

The assessment will include:

  • an extended essay on an academic topic within your field of study
  • an oral presentation on an aspect of research related to your extended essay.

Some of the ways in which you will be assessed will change as the assessment will not be face-to-face, and more information about that will be provided in due course.

Technical requirements

Please note the following technical requirements for the online CLIE Pre-sessional course:

  • access to a laptop or PC with internet connection;
  • a headset (recommended) or speakers and a microphone;
  • a webcam;
  • a modern browser, upgraded to the latest version (Chrome recommended);
  • a fast internet connection. As with all online platforms, the higher the bandwidth of your internet connection, the smoother your experience of our platforms will be. We would recommend speeds in excess of 1 Mbps.

Training will be provided in the use of UCL online platforms during Student Orientation and ongoing technical support will be available during UK office hours.

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

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

Language level required for your UCL degree courseMinimum IELTS level required for each Pre-sessional course
12-week Pre-sessional  8-week Pre-sessional6-week Pre-sessional  
No UCL offer for a degree courseNot eligibleNot eligibleNot eligible
UCL Standard level5.0 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 level5.5 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)

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 content

Virtual guest lectures

Students have access to lectures on a range of topics of general academic interest. These lectures, given by UCL academic staff and visiting lecturers, are an integral part of the course and provide practice in listening to lectures and taking notes. Self-study activities and opportunities to discuss the content online are provided.  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 virtual guest lecture programme provides a taste of the topics covered.

Weekly tutorials

You will have 30-minute small group tutorials with your teacher, or 20 minute one-to-one tutorials depending on the stage of the course. During these tutorials you can discuss progress on the course, your assignments, and receive feedback on your work.

Course aims

The course is designed to help you meet the English language entry requirements of your degree course. Sessions to encompass different modes of learning 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 delivered by academics and other experts 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;
  • enhance your independent study and library-based research skills as required at UK universities.

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)
12 weeks£6,650
8 weeks£5,650
6 weeks£4,320

Details of how to pay your fees can be found in the how to apply section.

Start dates

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

All Pre-sessional courses finish on 28 August 2020 and include examination results.

Progression to graduate level

96% of CLIE Pre-sessional English students progressed to a UCL degree programme after successfully passing the Pre-sessional course in 2020.

UCL degrees

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

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 and how to pay.

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.