Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement

Why does Imperial College London have a Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement?

Imperial College London is dedicated to the wellbeing of its doctoral students, which includes supporting the development of their ability to communicate their research effectively and to manage the writing-up process independently. The purpose of the Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement is to quickly identify, and subsequently support, students whose academic writing competence needs to be further developed so that they can successfully complete their PhD on time.

What exactly is the Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement?

After fulfilling the English language entry requirement for admission, all doctoral students must fulfil the Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement. This is done through taking Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement Assessment 1. Depending on the result of this initial assessment, students may also need to have a progress check (Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement Assessment 2), as part of the Early Stage Assessment (ESA) carried out by their department.

I have already taken an IELTS/TOEFL/PTE test. Do I still have to fulfil the Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement?

Yes, all Imperial doctoral students are required to fulfil the Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement. 

Which students are exempt from the Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement?

There are THREE exemption criteria:

  • a valid* 3-year (minimum) undergraduate degree studied in full within a majority English speaking country 
  • a valid*† IELTS 8.0 overall (minimum) at the time of fully registering onto the doctoral programme
  • a valid*† TOEFL 110 overall (minimum) at the time of fully registering onto the doctoral programme 

*Please note that all the above are only valid if awarded within the two years prior to the doctoral programme registration date. †Other English proficiency tests as equivalents are considered on a case by case basis. 

Please note that the award of a Master's degree is not an exemption criterion. 

Please note that if you are doing a '4-year PhD', i.e. studying as part of a 1+3 arrangement (1-year MRes/MSc plus 3-year PhD), your Master’s degree is considered as the English language entry requirement for the PhD. However, like all 1st-year doctoral students, you will still need to fulfil the Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement at the start of the PhD stage. This means that you will only be exempt from this requirement if the English language entry requirement for your Master’s is still valid at the time of fully registering onto the doctoral programme.

I'm doing a 4-year PhD. Do I still have to meet the Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement?

Yes. If you are doing a '4-year PhD', i.e. studying as part of a 1+3 arrangement (1-year MRes/MSc plus 3-year PhD), your Master’s degree is considered as the English language entry requirement for the PhD. However, like all 1st-year doctoral students, you will still need to fulfil the Imperial College London Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement at the start of the PhD stage. This means that you will only be exempt from this requirement if the English language entry requirement for your Master’s is still valid at the time of fully registering onto the doctoral programme.

I am exempt from the Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement. Can I still join a class?

Yes, you can take advantage of our higher-level courses, workshops and 1:1 consultations at any point during your doctoral programme.

Doctoral Academic Communication Requirement Assessments

When should I take DACR Assessment 1?

Students must take the first available assessment (DACR A1) after fully registering onto their doctoral programme, within 3 months of the registration date. This is because the aim of the Requirement is to identify as soon as possible those who need to improve their writing competence, and to ensure they can access support in the first 9 months of their doctoral programme.

When should I take DACR Assessment 2?

DACR A2 is to be taken by students who scored level 1 or 2 on DACR A1, and have normally completed both Academic Writing 1 and Academic Writing 2. It is part of the Early Stage Assessment (ESA) carried out by your department, which is usually nine months into the doctoral programme. Please note that the latest a student can take DACR A2 is 3 months after their ESA.

I haven’t attended the recommended Academic Writing 1 and/or Academic Writing 2 course(s). Can I still register for DACR Assessment 2?

You can, but because DACR Assessment 2 (DACR A2) is a progress check, students are recommended to take it once they have attended both the Academic Writing 1 and Academic Writing 2 courses. DACR A2 is taken around the time of the Early Stage Assessment (ESA), so if there's still time for you to take both courses before your ESA, we strongly recommend you do so.

When are the next DACR Assessments 1 and 2?

How do I register for DACR Assessments 1 and 2?

To book a place on an assessment, please select a suitable date on this webpage.

How do I prepare for DACR Assessments 1 and 2?

These are not ‘pass or fail’ tests, so you shouldn’t worry about trying to ‘pass’ them. DACR A1 is a diagnostic assessment to identify any gap between a student’s entry level academic writing competence and the level they will need to reach in order to complete their doctoral programme. No preparation or revision is therefore required. DACR A2 is a progress check that mimics the structure of DACR A1 and so does not require preparation or revision. Further information on the assessments.

What happens if I fail DACR Assessments 1 or 2?

These are not ‘pass or fail’ tests. The purpose of the assessments is to identify any gap between a student’s academic writing competence and the level they will need to reach in order to complete their doctoral programme. Further information on the assessments.

How soon will I get the result of the assessment? Will I be able to get some feedback on the assessment?

Results are normally reported 2-3 weeks after the assessment date and will be sent to you via email. We don’t normally provide feedback on DACR Assessment 1, because it is a diagnostic assessment. If we are concerned about your progress on DACR Assessment 2, we will offer you a feedback session. Further information on the assessments.

Will my department be notified of my assessment result?

Yes, we will email the result to you and to your administrator, supervisor(s) and DPS.

Is it possible to re-take either of the assessments to improve my score?

No, these are diagnostic or progress assessments, not ‘tests’.

Doctoral courses

How do I know which course is right for me?

We will contact you via email to advise you on which courses are most suitable for you at each stage of your doctoral programme. If you would like to discuss this advice, please contact our administrator at english@imperial.ac.uk.

Should I choose the Advanced Academic Writing or Writing a Research Paper course?

Advanced Academic Writing is for those who have a high level of language proficiency and focuses on effective communication at research level. 

However, if your priority is writing a paper for publication, we recommend you take our Writing a Research Paper course.

Writing a Research Paper is for those with a high level of language proficiency and are at the stage of writing papers for publication. This course will train you to use research articles in your own field as input to create effective writing models and to identify the key language features and writing conventions. 

However, if you're not currently at the stage of writing a paper and if your priority is improving your academic STEMM writing in general, we recommend you take our Advanced Academic Writing course.

How do I register for classes?

You can register directly online for our doctoral academic writing courses. The registration period and link can be found on the individual course pages.

You can register directly online for our doctoral technical speaking classes during the registration period indicated on the page.

You can register directly online for our general speaking and listening classes during the registration period indicated on the page.

Are the classes multi-disciplinary?

Yes. Science is multi-disciplinary and the multi-disciplinary nature of our classes helps students practise communicating their work to researchers in different fields.

How many hours are the courses?

Our doctoral academic writing courses are 3 hours per week (a 1.5-hour live session + 1.5 hours' follow-up/remote activities) for 8 weeks.

Our doctoral technical speaking courses are 1.5 hours per week (a 1-hour live session + 30 minutes' remote activities) for 4 weeks.

Are the classes compulsory?

Classes are not compulsory, but if we suggest you attend a course, consider our recommendation carefully; we won’t advise you to take a class unless we think you need to.

What should I do if I am unable to attend the course?

If you have registered for a course that you are no longer able to attend, please contact our administrator at english@imperial.ac.uk. If you are unable to come to one of the classes during a course, please contact the teacher of that course directly.

How much work will I have to do outside of class?

For doctoral academic writing courses, your tutor will give you about 45 minutes' remote work to prepare for each live session and then 45 minutes' follow-up work after the live session. 

For doctoral technical speaking courses, your tutor will give you about 30 minutes' remote work to prepare for each live session and then after each session you will be invited to make and submit recordings for individual feedback.

What do I have to do to pass the course/move on to the next course?

The courses are not ‘pass or fail’ courses, but students who attend fewer than 5 out of 8 classes and/or who do not submit all the course assignments may be advised to retake the course before continuing.

Other support

How do I register for a one-to-one writing consultation?

Can you help me with my ESA report/thesis/research article?

You can book a consultation with a tutor to discuss an external document (e.g. a research article or conference abstract), but not internal documents that are part of your degree. Please note that this is not a proofreading service, but an opportunity to help you identify and understand language areas for improvement. You can register online for a one-to-one consultation.

Can you help me with a presentation?

Our Effective Presentation Skills course will help you with this. You can also book a consultation with us to look at your presentation slides and to give you feedback on your presentation skills, delivery and pronunciation. You can register online for a one-to-one consultation.

Do you offer a proofreading service?

The CfAE does not offer a proofreading service. However, the aim of the one-to-one consultations is to help you identify and understand language areas for improvement. You can register online for a one-to-one consultation.

For information about your rights and how we will use your data, visit the Imperial College London data protection website HERE