The Imperial College London PhD Academic English Requirement

PhD FAQs 1

What exactly is the Imperial College London PhD Academic English Requirement?

In addition to fulfilling the English language entry requirement to gain admission to their programme of study, doctoral (PhD) students who are not native speakers of English must also fulfil the Imperial College London PhD Academic English Requirement via an initial academic English assessment (English Assessment 1) and possibly a later progress check (English Assessment 2).  Further information can be found here.

Why does Imperial College London have a PhD Academic English Requirement?

The aim of the Imperial College London Phd Academic English Requirement is to identify as soon as possible those who might need or want to improve their academic English writing competence, and to ensure that they are offered appropriate support. It is important to do the first assessment (English Assessment 1) at the start of the PhD so that problems can be rectified and progress made as soon as possible. Further information can be found here.

I have already taken an IELTS/TOEFL/PTE test. Do I still have to fulfil the ICL PhD Academic English Requirement?

Yes, almost all Imperial doctoral (PhD) students who are not native speakers of English are required to fulfil the Imperial College London PhD Academic English Requirement. Further information on the College’s English language requirements can be found here.

Which students do not have to fulfil the ICL PhD Academic English Requirement?

There are THREE exemption criteria:

  • Students with a valid* IELTS 8.0 overall (minimum) at the time of fully registering onto the PhD  
  • Students with a valid* TOEFL 110 overall (minimum) at the time of fully registering onto the PhD 
  • Students with a Bachelor's degree studied in full within a majority English speaking country  

*Please note that Imperial College London considers IELTS and TOEFL scores to be valid for 2 years. Scores must be valid at the time of fully registering onto your PhD programme. 

Students who fulfil one of these criteria will receive an email from the CfAE confirming formal exemption from the requirement. This email is usually sent within two weeks of fully registering onto the PhD programme.

I'm doing a 4-year PhD. Do I still have to meet the ICL PhD Academic English requirement?

Yes, like all 1st-year PhD students, you will still need to fulfil the ICL PhD Academic English Requirement at the start of the PhD stage. If you are doing a '4-year PhD', i.e. studying as part of a 1+3 arrangement, your Master’s degree is considered as the English language entry requirement for the PhD (+3). You will only be exempt from the PhD requirement if the English language entry requirement for your Master’s is still valid at the time of fully registering onto the PhD stage of the degree. 

I received an email from the CfAE exempting me from the ICL PhD Academic English 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 PhD.

PhD assessments

PhD FAQs 2

When should I take English Assessment 1?

You should take the first available initial assessment (English Assessment 1) after fully registering onto your PhD programme. This is to ensure that you will have time to take the recommended courses and workshops before your Early Stage Assessment (ESA). You will receive an email from the CfAE adminstrator reminding you of this, usually within two weeks of fully registering onto the PhD programme.

Please note that the latest a student can take an EA1 is a maximum 3 months after fully registering onto their PhD. If a student does not attend an EA1 in this time, the department will need to resolve this.

When should I take English Assessment 2?

English Assessment 2 (EA2) is taken around the time of the Early Stage Assessment (ESA), which is approximately nine months into the PhD. EA2 is a progress check, so ideally you should only take it once you have attended both the Academic Writing 1 and Academic Writing 2 courses. However, please note that the latest a student can take EA2 is normally 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 English Assessment 2?

You can, but because English Assessment 2 (EA2) is a progress check, students are recommended to take it once they have attended both the Academic Writing 1 and Academic Writing 2 courses. EA2 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 English Assessments 1 and 2?

To view the list of upcoming assessment dates, please visit this webpage.

How do I register for English Assessments 1 and 2?

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

How do I prepare for English Assessments 1 and 2?

These are not ‘pass or fail’ tests, so you shouldn’t worry about trying to ‘pass’ them. After you’ve registered for an assessment, you will receive an email explaining what the assessment consists of and what we will be looking for in your writing.

English Assessment 1 is a diagnostic assessment to determine whether you would benefit from academic English courses.

English Assessment 2 measures your progress after you have completed the Academic Writing 1 and 2 courses. These courses will help prepare you for the assessment.

Further information on the assessments can be found here.

What happens if I fail English Assessments 1 or 2?

These are not ‘pass or fail’ tests. The purpose of the assessments is to measure your level of English in relation to the immediate and future language demands of producing a PhD, and to identify which PhD writing classes or other forms of CfAE support would be of benefit to you. After each assessment, we will report on your performance and recommend future classes, where necessary. Further information on assessment results can be found here.

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 English Assessment 1, because it is a diagnostic assessment. If we are concerned about your progress on English Assessment 2, we will invite you for feedback. Further information on assessment results can be found here.

Will my department be notified of my assessment result?

The result will be sent to you first by email, and then to your department/division.

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

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

PhD courses and classes

PhD FAQs 3

I’m a visiting PhD student. Can I take PhD classes?

If you’re not doing your full PhD at Imperial, you can still register for our classes for visiting PhD students here.

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 PhD. If you would like to discuss this advice, please contact our administrator at english@imperial.ac.uk.

How do I register for classes?

You can register online for our PhD academic writing classes here.

You can register online for our PhD technical speaking classes here.

For our listening and speaking classes, please register here.

What is the average class size?

Our PhD classes usually have between 8-18 students, depending on the type of class.

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 PhD writing courses are 16 hours (2 hours per week for 8 weeks).

Our PhD speaking courses are 4 hours (1 hour per week 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 homework will I be given?

Your tutor will give you about 45 minutes’ homework per week. 

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 the course assignments may be advised to retake the course before continuing.

Other support from the Centre for Academic English

PhD FAQs 4

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

You can register online for a one-to-one consultation here.

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

You can book a consultation with a tutor to look at a section (maximum 1000 words) of your ESA report, thesis or research article. 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 here.

Can you help me with a presentation?

You can book a consultation with a tutor 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 here.

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 here.

Do you help write job applications?

Unfortunately, we’re not able to help you with applications, but the College's Careers service can support you with this.

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