English language requirements

To benefit fully from an undergraduate, postgraduate taught or postgraduate research course at the University of Surrey, you will need a good standard of English language.

The score or level of English language required varies between courses. Please visit our undergraduatepostgraduate taught and postgraduate research course pages for specific requirements.

Accepted qualifications

The following qualifications are accepted by the University as evidence that you meet our minimum level of competence in English: 

  • GCSE English Language grade C (4), or above
  • iGCSE English as a First Language grade C
  • iGCSE Second Language with grade B in all four elements
  • International Baccalaureate English grade 4 at either standard or higher level where the IB meets the standard academic entry requirements
  • AS-level in English Language or English Literature
  • A-level in English Language or English Literature
  • European Baccalaureate English 6 (Language 1/2) or 7 (Language 3)
  • Successful completion of a University of Surrey pre-sessional English language course immediately preceding the main degree course
  • Pearson Test of English, taken within two years of the start of the course
  • IELTS Academic, taken within two years of the start of the course
  • TOEFL (ibt), taken within two years of the start of the course 
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE), taken within two years of the start of the course
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English
  • LanguageCert International ESOL.

In addition, we also accept a range of national qualifications providing they are your most recent study of English language. These include the following:

  • Hong Kong – Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), English 4
  • India – 70% in 12th board exam English from CBSE/ISC boards and 80% in 12th board exam English from the majority of Indian state boards
  • Kenya – KCSE at grade C
  • Malaysia – Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), 1119 Advanced English C
  • Nigeria and Ghana – West African Senior School Certificate or Senior School Certificate at grade C6
  • Singapore – Singapore/Cambridge O-level English at grade C. The Singapore Integrated Programme satisfies the English requirement.
  • South Africa – Senior Certificate (with matriculation endorsement), English at grade C (Standard Grade) or grade E (Higher Grade).

In light of current challenges students face, we are accepting the following for courses that start in September 2020 or February 2021: IELTS Indicator, TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, and the Duolingo English Test. In the case of Duolingo, we accept a score of 90 as the equivalent of IELTS 5.5, 100 as the equivalent of 6.0, 110 as the equivalent of 6.5, and 120 as the equivalent of 7.0.

View more information regarding our English Language requirements in our English Language Policy.

IELTS equivalents

The table below shows our typical IELTS offers and the grades we accept in other English language qualifications.

IELTS Academic 5.5 overall with 5.0 in each component 6.0 overall with 5.5 in each component 6.5 overall with 5.5 in each band (with 6.0 in writing) 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each band 7.0 overall with 6.5 in each band 7.5 overall with 7.0 in each band
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency 162 overall with 154 in each component 169 overall with 162 in each component 176 overall with 162 in each component (with 169 in writing) 176 overall with 169 in each component 185 overall with 176 in each component 191 overall with 185 in each component
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English 162 overall with 154 in each component 169 overall with 162 in each component 176 overall with 162 in each component (with 169 in writing) 176 overall with 169 in each component 185 overall with 176 in each component 191 overall with 185 in each component
Pearson Test of English 42 overall with 36 in each component 50 overall with 42 in each component 58 overall with 42 in each component (with 50 in writing) 58 overall with 50 in each component 65 overall with 58 in each component 73 overall with 65 in each component
TOEFL (ibt) 59 overall with 7 in Reading, 6 in Listening,  15 in Speaking and 17 in Writing 79 overall with 12 in Reading, 11 in Listening, 17 in Speaking and 20 in Writing 88 overall with 12 in Reading, 11 in Listening, 17 in Speaking and 23 in Writing 88 overall with 18 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 19 in Speaking and 23 in Writing 95 overall with 23 in Reading, 23 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 26 in Writing 102 overall with 26 in Reading, 26 in Listening, 23 in Speaking and 28 in Writing
Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE) N/A ISE II with Distinction in each skill ISE III with Pass in each skill ISE II with Distinction in each skill ISE III with Pass in each skill ISE III with Distinction

Postgraduate students do not need to provide an English language test if:

1. You are a national of a majority English-speaking country:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The US.

2. You have studied for a minimum of one year, and successfully completed within the past five years, a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelors degree or higher, taught in a majority English-speaking country: 

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The UK
  • The US.

3. You have studied for a minimum of one year, and successfully completed in the past five years, a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelors degree or higher from a Russell Group university, taught entirely, or in part, at an overseas campus.

Other qualifications

Other tests, qualifications, or degree-level study from elsewhere are not normally acceptable as evidence of competence in English, even when the degree is said to be taught in English, except in exceptional circumstances (see below) .

Multiple qualifications

If you present a variety of pieces of evidence of competence in English, you will only be judged on the most recent piece of evidence. However, if you have taken an IELTS Academic test no more than six months before the end of a degree course, this will take precedence over degree study.

If you register for an IELTS test but withdraw before taking the test, we will not consider this as evidence.

Exceptions

In exceptional circumstances, you may still be considered if you do not meet our English language requirements if you have sufficient evidence demonstrating your proficiency at the appropriate standard in each skill area (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Evidence could include your employment history, previous English language test results, or degree-level study that falls outside of this policy. As well as providing evidence of ongoing use of English, you will also be interviewed.

You may also be asked to demonstrate your English proficiency by taking a recognised test.

Pathway programmes

International students who do not quite meet the English language requirements for a course have the option of studying a pathway programme at the University of Surrey International Study Centre.

International students can choose to study an International Foundation Year to prepare for the first year of an undergraduate degree, or Pre-Masters programme to prepare for a postgraduate degree.

Additionally, students can study an English Language Preparation for International for Foundation Year or an English for Pre-Masters programme if they want to improve their English language skills before studying one of the pathway programmes.

Once completed successfully, students can progress to an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at the University of Surrey.

Pre-sessional English language courses

We offer 12-week, eight-week and five-week pre-sessional English courses for international students.

These intensive courses are designed to help you improve your English language skills in order to meet your degree offer and begin studying at Surrey.

Learn more about our pre-sessional English languages courses.

English language and visa applications

If you require a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, you will need a UKVI approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) if you intend to study on one of our pre-sessional English language programmes. Currently IELTS (Academic) is the only Secure English Language Test that we accept.

You do not need to take a Secure English Language Test if you intend to study an undergraduate or postgraduate degree-level course, as we have our own method of assessing your language level under our Tier 4 Sponsor status. For further details, please see our information for international applicants.

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