Birmingham Foundation Pathways Presessional English programme

If you hold an offer for a Birmingham Foundation Pathways Programme you may now apply to study on the Birmingham Foundation Pathways Presessional English Programme run by the University of Birmingham's Birmingham International Academy (BIA). On successful completion of the Presessional you can transfer to the Birmingham Foundation Pathways in September or January  without needing to re-take IELTS. All of our courses will give you greater confidence for your future studies at Birmingham in addition to the opportunity to enter the Birmingham Foundation Pathways without taking further IELTS  tests.

What you will study

You will have an average of 20 hours class per week (including tutorials). You will study in small groups of students (maximum 15) and be taught by experienced, academic English tutors.

You will:

  • enhance your level of English language to satisfy entry requirements
  • improve and develop your academic skills for Foundation Pathways study
  • use English grammar effectively and accurately in academic tasks
  • improve your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills
  • use source material effectively in written tasks
  • practise strategies for expanding your vocabulary
  • use time management and general study skills
  • develop social communication skills

More generally, past students have reported increased confidence in their use of language and skills for academic study which better prepares them for the Foundation Pathway. You can read a student testimonial in the learning and teaching section.

Length of course

We offer courses of between 6 and 20 weeks immediately before the September and January start dates. However, you may need a longer Presessional English programme, depending upon your current English language level. If this is the case, we offer longer courses of 31 weeks or 42 weeks. Upon successful completion of the programme, you can transfer to the Foundation Academy without needing to take another English language test. 

If you're starting a Foundation Pathways programme  in January 2018, the dates of available presessional programmes are:

  • 11-week: 25 September 2017 – 08 December 2017
  • 6-week: 30 October 2017 – 08 December 2017

If you're starting a Foundation Pathways programme in September 2018, the dates of available presessional programmes are:

  • 42-week: 25 September 2017 - 14 September 2018
  • 31-week: 08 January - 14 September 2018
  • 20-week: 23 April - 14 September 2018
  • 15-week: 29 May -  14 September 2018
  • 10-week: 09 July - 14 September 2018
  • 6-week: 6 August - 14 September 2018
  • 4-week (unconditional students only): 20 August - 14 September

Find out what length of course you need

Course assessment

Your grade for the course will depend on grades for work you do during the course and your final score in exams.


Progression to your academic department is based on achieving the appropriate final score in coursework and final examinations, and at least 90% attendance.

Foundation and Undergraduate Presessional Progression Requirements (Internal assessment equivalent to IELTS)
EAP1 & EAP(UG) marksIELTS (approximate equivalence)CEFR equivalent
49-51 4.5 B1
52-55 5.0
56-59 5.5 B2
60-63 6.0
64-67 6.5 C1
68-71 7.0
72-74 7.5

For detailed information about English Language entry requirements to the University of Birmingham’s foundation or undergraduate programmes, please refer to our International student entry requirements

Fees and funding

Fees and deposit

To book a place on this course, self-funding students will need to pay a deposit of £450 (this will be deducted from your tuition fee). You are asked to pay us the full balance once you have started the course.

How to pay these fees is detailed on the Methods of Payment for the Presessional English Courses page.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

You must have an offer for a place on one of the University of Birmingham Foundation Pathways

IELTS requirements

The minimum IELTS you need for this course depends on the Foundation Pathways Programme for which you have an offer.   If you have an offer letter from the University of Birmingham Foundation Pathways, it will tell you the required IELTS test score needed for entry to the Foundation Pathways. 

Please note that in order to meet UKVI entry requirements all presessional applicants who need a Tier 4 visa must provide a valid official Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate, attaining at least a B1 level of English in all skills.

How to apply

2018 Presessionals

The following deadlines for Presessional applications apply in 2017/18:

  • 11-week course/42-week course - 25 August
  • 31-week Course - 08 December
  • 20-week Course - 23rd March
  • 15-week Course - 27th April
  • 10-week Course - 8th June
  • 6-week Course - 6th July
  • 4-week Course - 2oth July

Before applying please read the following:

Important information about presessional courses at the University of Birmingham

To apply for the course from 11 January 2018 (or later), you will need to send us the following:

  • A completed 2018 application form (Word - 57KB)
  • A copy of your passport
  • Proof of your current English level (for example, a copy of your IELTS certificate)
  • If a sponsor is paying for you, your sponsorship letter
  • If  you will be under 18 years of age at the start of the presessional, you will also need to provide a Parent/Guardian Agreement Form.  You may have been sent this already by our central Admissions team when you applied for your main course of study.  If not, you will be sent one  to complete if your presessional application is successful.

Making your application

You can send us these forms and documents:

  • By e-mail: e-mail scanned copies of the forms and your documents to
  • By post: send us your forms and copies of your documents to:
    Birmingham International Academy
    The University of Birmingham
    B15 2TT, UK

Deadline for receipt of applications

The deadline for applications is four weeks before the start date of the course that you wish to apply for. If you are applying after this date, please contact  us first at to check that there are still places available.

It is then very important that you check you are able to get a visa in time to be present on the first day of the course, as unfortunately students are unable to start the course late. You will also need to check the availability of your flights.

You will have an average of 20 hours class per week (including tutorials). You will study in small groups of students (maximum 15) and be taught by experienced, academic English tutors.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself. Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Image of Xuan-Yu Liu  (Presessional student in 2011)

Xuan-Yu Liu (China) completed a 6-week English Presessional course before going on to a Foundation Programme."I lacked confidence when I arrived, but I was more prepared for my foundation programme because I did the Presessional. The most useful part of the course for me was learning how to take part in seminars and write academic essays. There are many differences between Universities in China and the UK, especially in academic writing. The teachers helped me a lot and the Presessional gave me an advantage." (Xuan-Yu Liu, 2011).

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.  

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects. 

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive. 

Leisure programme

We offer:

  • Day trips  to places of cultural and historic interest.
  • A full and lively social programme for all summer presessionals (for example sports activities,trips to the cinema and museums).


During your presessional course you will be guaranteed accommodation within walking distance of the university campus. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your life in Birmingham in safe and welcoming surroundings.

Information about accommodation for Presessional students.

Further information about our accommodation, including virtual tours of bedrooms and kitchens, can be found online.

If you have further questions please contact: