Pre-sessional FAQs

How do I apply for a pre-sessional course?

You can apply online via our website. Full details on which course to apply for are HERE.

If you are unsure, please refer to the course pages for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to determine which language level your main academic programme requires.

When should I apply for a pre-sessional course?

Applications open on 1 March 2019. We recommend you apply as soon as you receive the offer from your main programme of study and are clear which pre-sessional course will meet your requirements. Closing dates are set to ensure you have sufficient time to complete all the steps in the application process. Application deadlines are as follows:

12-week course closing date: Monday 27 May 2019

6-week course closing date: Monday 1 July 2019

3-week course closing date: Monday 22 July 2019

Please note that spaces for the 6-week and 12-week courses are available until the closing date for applications.

Can I have a joint CAS for my pre-sessional course and my main programme of study?

12- and 6-week pre-sessional students with a conditional offer to their main programme of study will be issued with a CAS covering the pre-sessional English course only. Once you pass the pre-sessional course and meet any outstanding conditions from your main course, then you will be provided with another CAS number to use in your visa extension application.

3-week pre-sessional students holding an unconditional offer to their main programme of study will be issued with a joint CAS to apply for a Tier 4 visa to cover both the pre-sessional course and their main programme of study.

How do I get my CAS for my pre-sessional course?

In order to receive a CAS, you must have paid the fees and uploaded a copy of your passport onto Student e-service. Following payment, it can take up to a week to release your CAS.

Can I apply if I am under 18?

We accept under 18s with unconditional offers on to our 3-week pre-sessional course only. Our consent form and code of behaviour form need to be completed and signed by the parent or guardian before the student arrives.

How do I apply for my visa?

Please visit the Student visas page HERE for guidelines on the visa application process. 

Can students with unconditional offers register for the pre-sessional course?

Prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students with an unconditional offer should apply for the 3-week course.

How and when will I know if I have a place on the course?

You will be notified of an offer through Student e-service as well as receiving an email from the CfAE which contains further information. You will need to accept your offer through Student e-service and pay the course fees in full in order to confirm your place.

To ensure you have sufficient time to complete all steps in the application process, you must accept your offer at least five weeks before the start of your chosen pre-sessional course.

I do not have a UKVI IELTS – what should I do?

If you are an overseas (non-EU) student, in order to be able to apply for a pre-sessional course you will need to provide us with an IELTS SELT (secure English language test) certificate for a test taken at a UKVI- approved IELTS test centre. We can only accept a UKVI-approved test report form for your pre-sessional application, so please make sure you inform the UKVI–approved IELTS test centre that you need this certificate and not the standard certificate.

What is the attendance policy for the pre-sessional course?

100% attendance is expected.

Does Imperial College arrange transport from the airport to the university campus?

Imperial College does not provide an airport pick-up service. You may find the following websites helpful:

Transport from Heathrow Airport to London
Transport from Gatwick Airport to London
Transport for London (including Tube map)


Pre-sessional FAQs

How and when should I pay my fees?

Once you have accepted your offer on Student e-service, you will receive an invoice via email within 7-10 working days. Following payment, it can take up to a week to release your CAS. Only then will you be able to start your visa application process. Any delay with payment could lead to problems obtaining your visa in time for the start of the course.

What is the refund policy?

For details of our refund policy, please see our terms and conditions HERE.

I will have Official Financial Sponsorship - what do I need to do?

As soon as you have accepted your offer in Student e-Service, you should send a copy of your Financial Guarantee Letter to The sponsor letter needs to state that the sponsor will cover the course fees for the ‘Pre-sessional English language programme’ and to include the dates and fees of the chosen pre-sessional course. Full information on what the letter needs to cover is found on the page Information for postgraduate students on tuition fees.  

Course content/structure

Pre-sessional FAQs

Who are the students on the course?

These are international students from a range of countries. 12- and 6-week students are mostly prospective Master’s students with some PhDs, and the 3-week course is a mixture of prospective undergraduates, and postgraduates (taught and research).

Who are the teachers on the course?

A dedicated team of English tutors with extensive experience in working with students to develop their academic English for study at Imperial College London.

What will the course focus on?

The course focuses on academic English for STEMM disciplines, that is, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine. There is a focus on a range of skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

What is the overall aim of the pre-sessional programme?

It aims to develop your ability to operate within the challenging academic environment here at Imperial College London, to help you confidently and effectively communicate your science, and to assist you in adapting to life in the UK.

Do I need any course books?

No. All course materials are produced by the CfAE and provided for you. Many materials are available on our online Blackboard course. After being accepted onto the course, you will receive access to Blackboard, which you will be able to access using your college e-service username and password.

Will I learn about my academic subject?

There will no formal teaching or testing of your subject on the pre-sessional, but you will be asked to read, write and present on topics in or related to your field.

Will I meet my subject lecturers on this course?

No. The pre-sessional prepares you for your main programme, but it is not run or taught by lecturers from your future department. On the pre-sessional you will be taught by specialists in academic English. You will, however, attend lectures given by researchers from a range of departments in Imperial College London during your course.

How useful will the Pre-sessional course be to me? Is it better than just taking an English language test?

Yes, the Pre-sessional is much more tailored to your needs as a prospective Imperial student. Students who have taken our pre-sessional report back that they feel far more prepared for their studies than other international students who have not taken the course. Departments tell us they can see a positive difference between those students who have taken the pre-sessional and those who have not.

What is the average class size?

Class sizes are generally small so that you can receive personal attention. We also provide weekly 1-to-1 mentoring sessions to help you monitor your progress and guide your independent study.

How many teaching hours a week are there on the course?

There are around 20-25 hours of teaching per week, and you are also expected to undertake independent study.

Is there a social programme?

We provide a social programme with a wide range of fun events and activities to help you to make friends and adjust to life in the UK.

Assessment (12- and 6-week courses)

Pre-sessional FAQs

How am I assessed at the end of the course?

There are two formal assessments at the end of the course: an assessment of written English and an assessment of spoken English. The assessment of written English shows your ability to read and write academically on a general STEMM topic. The assessment of spoken English is a viva voce, an individual interview in which you demonstrate your ability to converse on a topic related to your chosen field of study.

How am I assessed during the course?

There is no formal assessment during the course, only at the end of the course. However, you are expected to complete the required course tasks each week. These tasks are designed to raise your awareness of the language needed for your course and equip you with the skills to meet the challenges of postgraduate study at Imperial College London. You will receive feedback on these tasks aimed to help you to develop your confidence and ability over the course.

What happens if I don’t achieve the required score at the end of the course?

If you don't achieve a satisfactory grade at the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to retake the final assessments the following week. If you fail the assessment a second time, you might not be accepted onto your degree programme. Most students successfully pass the course.

Do I need to take the IELTS exam after I have completed the course?


What does it mean to 'successfully complete' a pre-sessional programme?

Successful completion of the pre-sessional programme means that you have satisfied the university's English language requirements. This means you have fully attended the course, satisfactorily completed all the coursework, and passed the final course assessments.

When will I get my final results?

On the last day of the course.

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