UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Lydia Chen

Meet Lydia, she studied the Pre-sessional English course on campus and is now studying Creative Arts and Humanities BA at UCL.


What’s your background?

I’m from Shanghai in China and studied A-levels at high school.

Why did you choose to study the Pre-sessional English course online?

I received a conditional offer for my degree, which required an IELTS score of at least seven across all components. However, despite taking the test three times, I was unable to achieve a score of 7 in the speaking component.

Given the limited time available, it seemed challenging to improve my speaking score to the required level. Therefore, I decided to study Pre-sessional English course instead.

Undergraduate Pre-sessional English students study the course  online, however, even if given the option, I would still prefer to study online rather than on campus.

This is because attending classes on campus would require me to find accommodation and book flights, adding to the costs and time spent.

Additionally, I would like to spend more time with my family in China before heading off to university.

Which degree are you studying now and what is it like?

I thoroughly enjoyed every module of my degree, particularly the one on moving image.

I found it fascinating to analyse various movies and explore the different aspects of the films, such as their settings, customs, makeup, lighting and more.

As for the challenges I faced, during the first five weeks of the term, I found it quite stressful to participate in seminars, mainly because English is not my first language. I felt nervous and afraid of making mistakes when I had to speak. However, after a few weeks, I began to feel more comfortable and confident in expressing my own opinions.

How has the Pre-sessional English course helped you in your degree?

I believe that Pre-sessional English final assessment, which includes a presentation and question and answer session, a mock seminar and an essay is well organised. It covers every step in our degree programme, which is beneficial for us.

The seminar, though different from the actual one, helped us improve our note-taking skills and taught us how to participate in a seminar.

Moreover, the course taught us how to find reliable sources and references, which is crucial for our degree programme. Writing essays and citing sources are an essential part of university studies, and this skill will be helpful in the future.

What advice would you give to future students who will be taking online Pre-sessional English course?

It's important to remember that making mistakes is part of the learning process. So feel free to speak up and express yourself, as speaking more frequently can help you improve faster.

As for reading, try to comprehend most of the content and prepare your notes in advance for the final assessment.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with at UCL so far?

During one of our modules called Creative Lab, I participated in an interesting activity.

We gathered words that we were familiar with from around the teaching building and used them to create a new poem.

It was by far the most interesting thing I have done so far.

How is the UK education system different to your home country? 

I believe that for UK education, it is important to take initiative, explore new opportunities, and face challenges independently, without relying solely on tutors for assistance.

Where is your favourite place on campus and why? 

My degree is taught on the UCL East campus in the Olympic Park, East London.

One of my favourite places is the cafe because I love their paninis.