UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Course information

Everything you need to know about our Pre-sessional English course including information on the course structure, teaching, assessment, fees and course dates.

On this page:

Course dates

The course dates for 2024 entry are:

CourseWho can applyCourse start dateCourse end dateResults day
Standard coursePostgraduates (online and face-to-face)
Undergraduates (online only)
1 July 202416 August 202429 August 2024
Extended coursePostgraduates (online and face-to-face)10 June 202416 August 202429 August 2024

You must complete enrolment before or on the course start date, so that you can attend your first week's scheduled teaching events. You will be sent further information on enrolment during the application process.

If you either don’t complete enrolment or do not attend scheduled teaching events within the first five days, you will be withdrawn from the course.

Course overview

Who is this course for?

Our Pre-sessional courses improve your academic language, skills and autonomy to enable you to succeed on your future degree programme at UCL and contribute effectively to your chosen academic community.

The UCL Pre-sessional satisfies Levels 1-5 of UCL’s English language requirement. You can check the English language requirement of your future degree on your offer letter.

Our courses are suitable if you hold a conditional UCL degree offer.

The Pre-sessional courses are full-time and intensive and you must be fully available for the duration of the course. It is therefore not compatible with working, studying other courses, or completing internships, and you must have finished High School or your undergraduate degree course, before your Pre-sessional course start date.

UCL unconditional degree offer holders

A Pre-sessional course specifically for UCL unconditional postgraduate offer holders will be offered in September 2024.

Find out more about the Unconditional Pre-sessional English course.

IOE offer holders

If you are an offer holder for an IOE degree, please apply to the IOE Preparation for Academic Studies in Higher Education courses.

What will you learn?

On the Pre-sessional, you will conduct research related to your future degree using UCL Library tools, read and understand complex academic texts, produce academic writing, watch authentic lectures and contribute to seminar discussions. 

In the lessons, you will work and collaborate with other students and your teacher to develop your knowledge of academic English and improve your academic skills and language. 

You will complete a variety of formative tasks and receive verbal and written feedback from your teacher. 

You will also participate in regular individual or group tutorials with your teacher.

How to choose between the face-to-face and online courses

UCL undergraduate offer holders

Undergraduate students have different needs to postgraduate students.

To ensure we can meet these needs, undergraduates will be taught together on the online Standard Pre-sessional course.

These separate classes for pre-undergraduates, ensure you study together with other pre-undergraduate students, and are taught by teachers who have specific experience of teaching pre-undergraduate students.

We recognise that you are in the early stages of your academic journey and so we have materials tailored for pre-undergraduates, with activities which have been specifically designed to help you transition to higher education in the UK, and develop your language and academic skills.

These course materials were designed using feedback from former pre-undergraduate Pre-sessional students and teachers, and by discussing what is expected of undergraduates and how they are typically assessed with various UCL faculties.

You will have weekly tutorials to discuss any issues which may be affecting your studies and receive guidance and support.

In addition, the Senior Pre-sessional Coordinator (Student Experience) will contact you at key points in the course to help and support you. 

UCL postgraduate offer holders

If you hold an offer for a postgraduate UCL degree, you will be able to choose to study face-to-face or online.

The face-to-face course

If you choose to study face-to-face, you will be taught on UCL's campus in Bloomsbury, central London.

You will receive the benefit of being in a UCL classroom and interacting in person with your teacher and other students.

You will have the opportunity to be in London and become familiar with the UCL campus before you begin your degree programme.

Students who studied the face-to-face Pre-sessional in 2023, said the advantages included:

  • Face-to-face communication
  • Adjusting to and enjoying life in London 
  • Getting to know the UCL campus and its facilities
  • Opportunities to practise English outside of the classroom
  • More opportunities to communicate with classmates and teacher
  • Fewer technical issues

Sarah Campling, Director of Graduate Taught Programmes at UCL Laws, advises: “When deciding whether to attend the Pre-sessional course online or in person, please note the benefits of attending in person. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the campus and living in London, as well as experiencing being taught face to face in a UCL classroom.  This would assist you in settling into the LLM programme over the first few weeks.”

What will my day look like?

On the face-to-face course, you will begin each day by participating in lessons with your teacher and a class of up to 15 students. 

In the afternoons, you will independently access online interactive activities and tasks via UCL’s online learning platform. These activities and tasks are essential preparation for your lessons.

The online course

If you choose to study online, you will be taught remotely via UCL’s online platforms (such as Microsoft Teams).

This means you have the benefit of being in your home country while studying.

We recommend you choose to study online if it might be difficult for you to:

  • book an accepted English language test (see entry requirements)
  • obtain a visa in time for the course start date.

Students who studied the online Pre-sessional in 2023, said the advantages included:

  • Rewatching recorded classes
  • Saving money on rent and flights
  • Studying anywhere 
  • Saving time on travelling to classes
  • Support from family and friends when studying at home

What will my day look like?

On the online course, you will begin every day by independently accessing online interactive activities and tasks via UCL’s online learning platform.

These activities and tasks are essential preparation for your lessons.

Then, you will participate in lessons with your teacher and a class of up to 15 students.

The Online Pre-sessional course operates during standard UCL working hours, and the teaching and assessment schedule is fixed and cannot be changed. Please check the sample timetable.

Technical requirements for Pre-sessional courses

You must have a laptop to access electronic materials and engage in your lessons.

Please note the following technical requirements for the Pre-sessional courses:

  • a modern laptop (mobile devices such as tablets or phones are not appropriate)
  • a headset or headphones (highly recommended) or functioning speakers and a microphone
  • a working webcam
  • Chrome and Firefox installed
  • an internet connection of 20 Mbps or higher

Additionally, based on feedback from 2023, online students found the following extremely useful:

  • a second/external monitor
  • an external mouse and/or keyboard
  • a wired ethernet connection
  • a computer with an Intel i5 or equivalent processor and at least 8GB RAM
  • broadband internet with at least 50 MB/s download and 10MB/s upload speeds

We’ll provide training on how to use UCL’s online platforms (e.g. Microsoft Teams) at the start of the course. Technical support will be available during normal UK office hours (9am-5pm, Monday – Friday).


The Pre-sessional English courses are full-time and intensive and cannot be combined with other study, employment or internships.

Your weekly timetable will typically include:

  • 15 hours of contact time in lessons
  • Up to 15 hours of independent study
  • Up to 45 minutes of online contact time in tutorials

Sample timetables

Your teachers

Your tutors will be introduced to you at the beginning of the course. They are approachable and dedicated Associate Lecturers and will prepare you for your studies at UCL.

Additionally, the Senior Team will also support you while you’re on the Pre-sessional and you can read more about them by following the link below.

Pre-sessional Senior Team


The assessment methods are the same for both the face-to-face and online options.

To assess your skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, you will be required to engage with:

  • different tasks as part of an individual research project
  • two exams

The assessments are covered in greater detail below.

If you are a conditional degree offer holder, you must achieve a UCL English level 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 to meet the English-language requirement stated in your degree offer letter to progress to your chosen UCL degree.

All students enrolled on the course are required to complete all Pre-sessional assessments.

Reading and Writing: Researched Essay

You will produce an essay based on independent library research.

This essay will be based on a topic related to your future academic discipline, and you will receive support in finding and evaluating academic texts that you will use to construct the argument in your essay.

You will be required to provide evidence of your reading during the research process. 

Speaking: Question and Answer Session

You will attend a Question and Answer Exam based on your essay in which you will have the opportunity to explain and clarify aspects of your work.

Listening: Seminar Exam

You will participate in a small-group discussion based on the content of a lecture.

You will be assessed on your ability to understand the other students and to respond appropriately during the discussion.


The fee for each Pre-sessional course is:


See the how to apply page for further information on when and how you need to pay your course fee.