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Approved tests and qualifications for English language ability

GENERAL GUIDANCE

Birkbeck values our multi-lingual student body and encourages applications from speakers of all languages. We consider each application individually, so please make a case for your level of English language ability if you are a non-native speaker of English.

Your English language ability is sufficient if you:

  • are a national of the UK or of a majority English-speaking country (see list below)
  • can show that you have an approved qualification, English language test or can demonstrate an equivalent proficiency (see below).

If you are a Tier 4 visa holder, you must meet different requirements specified by the Home Office.

QUALIFICATIONS AND TESTS

'STANDARD' AND 'HIGHER' DEFINITIONS

  • Standard requirement: The majority of our programmes require applicants to demonstrate their proficiency in English to the level of IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each sub-test.

  • Higher requirement: Some linguistically demanding courses will require a higher score equivalent to IELTS 7.0 with 6.5 in each sub-test.

UK QUALIFICATIONS AND ENGLISH TESTS

  • AS or A-Level in English Language or Literature
    • Standard and higher requirement: C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English
    • Standard requirement: 176 with 169 in each sub-test
    • Higher requirement: 185 with 176 in each sub-test
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English
    • Standard requirement: 176 with 169 in each sub-test
    • Higher requirement: 185 with 176 in each sub-test
  • Duolingo English Test (non Tier 4 applicants only)
    • Standard requirement: 120
    • Higher requirement: 140
  • GCSE in English Language or Literature
    • Standard and higher requirement: C
  • IELTS Academic (no more than two years old) and IELTS Indicator 
    • Standard requirement: 6.5 overall with minimum of 6.0 in sub-tests.
    • Higher requirement: 7.0 overall with minimum of 6.5 in sub-tests.
  • IGCSE - English First Language
    • Standard and higher requirement: C or 5
  • IGCSE - English Second Language
    • Standard and higher requirement: C or 5
  • International Baccalaureate English A: Literature OR Literature and Language OR Literature and Performance
    • Standard requirement: Standard or higher level 4
    • Higher requirement: Standard or higher level 5
  • International Baccalaureate English B
    • Standard requirement: Standard level 5, higher level 4
    • Higher requirement: Standard level 6, higher level 5
  • INTO Test of English
    • Standard requirement: 176 overall with 169 in sub-tests
    • Higher requirement: 185 overall with 169 in sub-tests
  • OnCampus Test of English
    • Standard requirement: 65% overall with 60% in sub-tests
    • Higher requirement: 70% overall with 65% in sub-tests
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic)
    • Standard requirement: 62 with 60 in each sub-test
    • Higher requirement: 68 with 62 in each sub-test and 67 in writing
  • TOEFL: IBT (no more than two years old) and TOEFL Special Home Edition
    • Standard requirement: 79 (reading: 18, writing: 23, listening: 19, speaking: 19).
    • Higher requirement: 94 (reading: 19, writing: 24, listening: 20, speaking: 20).
  • Trinity College London: Integrated Skills in English (no more than two years old)
    • Standard requirement: ISE II
    • Higher requirement: ISE III

EUROPEAN SCHOOL QUALIFICATIONS

  • AustriaMatura/Reifeprufung
    • Standard and higher requirement: 2 (gut) in English when both written and oral exams are taken.
  • BelgiumDiploma van Secundair Onderwijs or Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire Superieur
    • Standard and higher requirement: Distinction in English
  • DenmarkBevis for Studentereksamen
    • Standard and higher requirement: 10 in English
  • FinlandYlioppilastutkintotodistus/Studentexamensbetgy
    • Standard and higher requirement: 5 (magna cum laude approbatur) in English
  • GermanyAbitur
    • 12 (gut) in English when taken as an achievement/main/intensive course
  • IcelandStudentsprof matriculation examination
    • Standard and higher requirement: 8 in English when taken as a compulsory modern language
  • LuxembourgDiplome de Fin d'Etudes Secondaires
    • 45 (bien) in English
  • NetherlandsVoorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO)
    • 7 (ruim voldoende) in English
  • NorwayVitnemal for videregaende opplaering
    • 5 in English
  • PolandSwiadectwo Dojrzalosci (Certificate of Maturity/Matura)
    • Standard requirement: Oral basic - 90%, written basic - 80%
    • Higher requirement: Oral basic - 95%, written basic - 85%
  • SwedenAvgangsbetyg/Slutbetgy fran Gymnasieskola
    • Standard and higher requirement: VG (val godkant) in English or Grade C in English
  • Switzerland: Maturitatzeugnis/Certificat de Maturite/Attestato de Maturita federal maturity certificate or the recognised cantonal maturity certificate
    • 5 (gut/bien/bene) in English

OTHER WAYS OF PROVING ENGLISH LANGUAGE ABILITY

MAJORITY ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES

  • If you are a national of one of these countries, your English language ability is sufficient. Tier 4 visa holders have different requirements.
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • The Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Canada
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Singapore (language of instruction must be English)
    • South Africa (language of instruction must be English)
    • St Kitts and Nevis  
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America

PARTIAL STUDY

  • If you have studied at degree level in a university in the UK or in another majority English-speaking country within the last three years, that is sufficient to demonstrate your English language ability. Normally we would expect you to have studied for a year or more.

WORK EXPERIENCE

  • If you can show that you have worked in a paid or voluntary capacity in the UK or in another majority English-speaking country for an extended period (normally 18 months or more), that is sufficient to demonstrate your English language ability. Normally we would expect you to have done this within the last three years.

PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH COURSES

  • If you don't meet our English language requirements now, you can study pre-sessional English courses offered by SOAS (School of Oriental and Asian Studies), one of our sister University of London colleges. These courses are designed to ensure that all students are fully prepared for their study at Birkbeck.
  • You must meet the course entry requirements in order to enrol:
    • Four-week course: IELTS 6.5 overall (6.5 in writing, 6.0 in speaking and reading, and 5.5 in listening) or IELTS 7.0 overall (6.0 in writing, speaking and reading, and 5.5 in listening).
    • Eight-week course: IELTS 6.0 overall (6.0 in writing and 5.5 in speaking, reading and listening).
  • By successfully completing your pre-sessional English courses, your English language proficiency will be met.