A guide to English language requirements to study in London


International students who want to study at a university in the UK will need to prove their level of English. This applies to all students whose first language is not English. There are a number of options for students to meet the English language requirements, including;

  • You are a national of a majority English-speaking country
  • You have a degree-level qualification taught in a majority English-speaking country
  • You have completed a degree in the UK
  • You have completed your university’s method of assessment or used one of the Home Office’s approved secure English language tests

Visit the UKCISA website for more information about each of these options.

If you need to complete an English language test, the most popular option for international students looking to study in the UK is IELTS. IELTS is scored in bands from 0 to 9 and tests students in four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Students receive a score for each skill, as well as an overall score.

What are the English language requirements in the UK?

In order to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, the UK Visa & Immigration department (UKVI) requires students to speak English at an intermediate level. In terms of IELTS scores, this means students need to score 5.5 in all four of the skills.

However, universities usually set their own English language requirements which are higher than the minimum set by UKVI. Degree courses at bachelor, master and PhD level will normally require students to speak English at an upper intermediate level, with IELTS score requirements of between 6.0 and 7.0.

If you are applying for an international foundation programme, the English language requirements are usually lower than for degree courses. Universities will ask for between 5.5 and 6.0, depending on the subject area.

What test should I take?

Since 6th April 2015, the list of UKVI approved English language tests includes only IELTS and ‘Integrated skills in English (ISE)’.

IELTS: This test can be taken at UKVI approved test centres worldwide and is accepted by all UK universities. There are also test centres in the UK for applicants who are already here.

ISE: This test can be taken at UKVI approved test centres in the UK only. Therefore, only international students who are already in the UK can take this test. The test is not currently accepted by all universities in the UK, please check with the university you want to apply to.

When should I take the test?

English language test centres are often fully booked for several weeks in advance, especially during the busy summer months. Book your test early to avoid disappointment.

It is also a good idea to book your test for several months before the start of your academic course. This will give you enough time to book another test should you not reach the English language level required by your university in your first test.

Note, many universities in London will accept your course application even if you have not yet taken an English language test. If your application is successful, you will receive a ‘conditional offer’, with one of the conditions being that you pass an appropriate English language test.

What next?

  1. Use the course search to find the right course for you and to see the English language requirements for the course
  2. Contact the university with any questions you have about the course or the entry requirements
  3. Read about the Tier 4 student visa requirements to make sure you will be able to successfully apply for your visa to study in London



33 comments on “A guide to English language requirements to study in London


    It is good information

  2. Ghulam Rasul says:

    I am intersted in Msc Course IN CIVIL ENGINEERING in UK.

  3. Ayisa T. Jeremiah says:

    Thanks for keeping me updated with the necessary information. Please keep me current with the knowledge of everything that’s worth my knowledge.

  4. uwase fatina says:

    i’d like to take that english test but i have a question i am now currently based in Rwanda where can i go for that text??
    can you direct me somehow

  5. Nyarko Justice says:

    I need a scholarships to further my education.

  6. Desalegn Temesgen Bayisa says:

    advice me on how to apply for full scholarsip

  7. Iulia Petre says:

    Is FCE exam ok for studying in London?

    • Study London says:

      Hi, no only the two English language tests stated above are now accepted by the UK Home Office. However, if you are from a country inside the European Union (i.e. you do not need a visa), your university may accept other English language tests

  8. Abel Kandapaki says:

    Further study to master in Economic…

  9. Nashon Muniu says:

    Wow! I realy like your ideas of helping other nation on improving their education but may I ask a question?

  10. sanar says:

    i really want learn english

  11. Karo says:

    hi my name is Karo : i want learning english. I from iraq how can i travel in london and how much money ? for i want to be your student to coming your university please help

  12. Betty Amaral says:

    thanks a lot for this information. can i get IELTS on line from london University? i am from Timor Leste

  13. Muso says:

    hi everybody, I have been searching an university for to study in england with 5.5 ielts score. please give me direction

    • Study London says:

      Hi Muso, the minimum IELTS requirement at universities for a degree course is usually 6.0. However, you could apply for the academic course and then take a pre-sessional English course at the university before you start your course. The university will be able to tell you which course you should take in order to progress to the degree course.

  14. Nashon muniu says:

    can one aplly for scholarship if
    he is still in high school? please
    reply…I realy wish to know and I
    also have many questions to ask.
    Thank you

    • Study London says:

      Hello, do you mean you want to study at high school level in the UK? Unfortunately we do not have any information about scholarships at schools. Your best option would be to contact the schools you are interested in directly to see if they offer any scholarships. For information about scholarships at universities, please read the Scholarship Advice.

  15. Melissa Richard says:

    Hello.. Can i take the IELTS exam on arrival @ Uk?? And will any University accept me for admission based on this condition?? I’m presently in Nigeria and i wish to take the test but it can’t be taken online..

    • Study London says:

      Hi Melissa, no you cannot take IELTS on arrival in the UK if you wish to study at a UK university on a Tier 4 student visa. If a university requires an IELTS test, you will need to submit this before you can even apply for your Tier 4 student visa. The British Council offers IELTS test in various cities in Nigeria. You can find the details here.

  16. chujor says:

    Please, I scored an overall band score of 6.0 with individual score as follows. Speaking: 6.5, writing: 6.5,listening:5.0 and reading:5.5. Can I be granted visa in UK with this scores for MSC? Or what is ur say on my score. Thanks

    • Study London says:

      Hi Chujor, universities will expect students to have at least 5.5 in each of the skills, and often the requirements are even higher. You would have a better chance of being accepted on a masters course if you study English for a bit longer and take the test again. Please be advised that most universities will accept your course application without the IELTS certificate. Therefore, you can apply for a course now but you will need to submit the relevant IELTS certificate before you start the course (the university will give you a specific deadline to submit your IELTS).

  17. muhammad haseeb says:

    What if I join this university after 12th class?

  18. VITALI says:

    Hello Study London, I am looking for an IELTS course for graduated doctor to attest her degree in the UK. Can you please advise best IELTS course and what is required for student visa. Kind regards, V.

    • Study London says:

      Hi Vitali, you can use the Study English in London website to see which English language schools offer IELTS preparatory courses. The relevant course category to search for is ‘examination preparation’. The English language school will be able to advise on the visa requirements which depend on where you are from and the length of the course.

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