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Pre-sessional English and International Foundation programmes

If you need to improve your academic English skills before you start your degree in order to meet our English language requirements, we advise you to consider taking our pre-sessional academic English course.

Please note: The course is designed to help students meet up to a 6.5 (or equivalent) IELTS standard entry requirement. If you have applied for a programme with higher English Language entry requirements, please as you might need to retake your English exam.

You can read more about the different pathways below and email us if you wish to enrol. You must include your full name, applicant number and a copy of your most recent English language test results in your email.

The pre-sessional academic English course is designed to help you cope with all aspects of student life in the UK: from understanding lectures and academic texts to writing assignments, speaking in seminars and giving presentations.

When you register your interest, you have a guaranteed place on the pre-sessional course. Once enrolment opens, we will guide you to enrol onto the pre-sessional course. Once you are enrolled, you will have a guaranteed place on your chosen degree course if you successfully attend and, where necessary, take another English language test. We offer individual guidance and support for enrolment on your degree course.

This course is suitable if you have an IELTS (Academic) score of at least 6.0 overall. We also recommend this course if you are a non-native English speaker and you fulfil the English language requirement for your degree studies. This course will help you settle into academic study in the UK and will give you a head start.

Pre-sessional academic English course

Course details

  • Dates: 7 August - 4 September 2023
  • Fees: £1,600
  • IELTS Academic entry requirements 
    • Minimum IELTS Academic overall score of 6.0, with at least 5.5 in all sub-tests. You must successfully complete the pre-sessional to progress to your degree studies, but you are not required to take another IELTS test at the end.
    • Minimum IELTS Academic for UKVI overall score of 6.0, with at least 4.0 in all sub-tests. You must successfully complete the pre-sessional to progress to your degree studies and you will be required to pass another IELTS test at the end of your pre-sessional, demonstrating you have obtained at least 5.5 in all sub-tests.
    • Application deadline: 27 June 2023.

Progression to your degree

  • If you already have an IELTS score (or equivalent) of at least 5.5 and with at least 5.5. in all sub scores, you will not need to take any formal assessment at the end of the language course. Completing the pre-sessional will enable you study your chosen programme at Birkbeck. 
  • If you have any sub-tests below 5.5 in your IELTS Academic for UKVI test, you will need to arrange another IELTS Academic for UKVI test once you complete the pre-sessional course. You must score at least 5.5 in all sub-tests to progress onto your main programme of study.

Course structure

  • The course takes place at our Birkbeck campus in central London.
  • Classes will take place during the day from Monday to Friday. You will be devoting at least 25 hours to your English studies per week. 
  • We also expect that you spend additional time on self-directed learning, for example, reading and writing tasks. 
  • You will receive detailed feedback from the teacher throughout the course on your progress.
  • There will be many opportunities for you to interact outside of the lectures, and you will be expected to work together in groups on a variety of tasks. This will help you to connect socially with your colleagues and will allow you to make friends before your degree studies begin. 
  • We will also arrange some extracurricular activities for all participants.

Integrated CAS

  • Students who require a Student visa to study in the UK will be eligible for a joint CAS to cover both the pre-sessional and their main programme of study.
  • This means that you only need to apply for a single visa.
  • Please carefully read the entry requirements above and pay particular attention if you have an IELTS score of less than 5.5.
  • Students who fail to successfully complete the pre-sessional course will not be permitted to continue onto their main programme of study and so will have their Student visa sponsorship withdrawn.

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International foundation programmes

OnCampus London

  • If do not meet the academic entry requirements for direct admission to your chosen programme at Birkbeck, you may benefit from joining the Undergraduate Foundation Programme or the Master's Foundation Programme offered at the OnCampus London centre. Based on the Birkbeck campus, you will have complete access to Birkbeck facilities - libraries, online resources and laboratories.
  • Birkbeck welcomes applications from students who have successfully completed the Undergraduate Foundation programme and the Master’s Foundation programme, and some of our courses guarantee a place to successful students.

Improving your study skills

  • In addition to our year-round study skills programme, there is a range of English and academic skills courses which are free to use. Check our online study skills materials and interactive tutorials and work through them at your own pace before and during your course to help you succeed.