Birmingham International Academy Presessional courses: Frequently Asked Questions

The online course

What is the online Presessional English course?

You can be assured that all courses will be run to the same high standard as our campus-based programme. The courses are designed to develop your English language and academic skills in preparation for your studies at the University of Birmingham. They are produced by our own academic staff at the University and are delivered using our own virtual learning environment (Canvas VLE) as well as by video conference using Zoom.

  • The will course include a mixture of interactive, class-based discussion and listening tasks set by your dedicated class tutor, as well as guided reading and written tasks with feedback to develop your skills.
  • You will be fully supported throughout your course and will receive regular 1-1 tutorials by video to discuss your progress and answer any questions.
  • You will be assessed using a mixture of coursework and online tests.
  • Timetabled sessions will take into account the needs of students studying in different time zones.
  • Many classes will be live streamed and recorded. We will make these classes available for you to view.
  • There will pre-class and post-class activities that you will need to complete before and/or after your lessons.

What is a virtual learning environment?

Canvas is the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) used at University of Birmingham. You can use Canvas to do the following:

  • Access your course materials online 24/7
  • Submit assignments
  • Access grades and feedback
  • Find lecture recordings
  • Access multimedia content and resources for learning outside of the lecture
  • Discuss and share ideas

What equipment do I need?

You will need access to a computer that runs Windows 10 or Apple Catalina. To ensure that you can participate in the live sessions you will need a minimum of 0.5 Mbits/sec bandwidth, please check your internet speed and bandwidth: you can use online tools for this or contact your provider.

You will also need a microphone and speakers: most computers have these built in. However, we recommend that you use a separate headphone with a built in microphone that has a USB connection.

We do not recommend using smartphones for taking part in live classes. 

What should I do if my internet connection is slow?

If you have a slower internet connection then please check with your provider to see if they can increase your bandwidth. Furthermore, you can also decrease your use by making sure you switch off all other internet dependent devices, you do not have any applications running on your computer and that you only use the webcam when necessary.

Will I be able to access the teaching and learning materials in my country?

We have checked access to the materials in different countries and are confident that you should not have any accessibility issues. We will address any issues you may have and give each student full support to ensure that learning continues.

What time of day will you teach?

Timetabled sessions will take into account the needs of students studying in different time zones.

How can I connect with other students?

An interactive classroom atmosphere will be maintained as we will be using live streaming for many sessions.

As a pre-sessional student studying remotely, you will be part of our online student community.

We also have an extensive welcome programme for when you arrive on campus, with particular activities for international students. This will ensure you are well prepared for your life and study in the UK.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed using a mixture of coursework and online tests. All your assessments will be completed using Canvas. Some assessments will be completed throughout the course and others at the end. You will be given more information on this as the course progresses.

The application process

What are the dates for the online Presessional courses?

In light of the current global situation with COVID-19, our pre-sessional programmes for 2020 entry will be primarily delivered online. The course dates are:

  • 20 week – 11 May - 18 September 2020
  • 15 week – 01 June - 18 September 2020
  • 10 week – 22 June - 28 August 2020
  • 6 week – 13 July - 21 August 2020

Please note that the 20 week programme begins two weeks later than originally advertised but finishes at the same time in order for students to be able to apply for their CAS and take up their place at Birmingham in September. Please be assured that the same depth of content will be covered over this timeframe.

There is no teaching the week starting 06 July.

When can I transfer to a campus-based course?

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the university is not currently doing any face-to-face teaching. When the university opens we will write to all presessional students and give them an opportunity to transfer to our on-campus programmes.

What are the dates for the campus-based course?

Dates for our planned on-campus programmes are below.

  • 10 week campus course - 13 July 2020
  • 6 week campus course - 10 August 2020

You will not be able to register for these until the university campus is open for students. We recommend you apply for an online course and we will write to you when the on campus course opens.

How do I apply for an online Presessional English course?

To apply, please follow the 'How to Apply' links provided:

When should I apply for an online Presessional English course?

Our application deadlines run one week prior to each course start date.

Please note that the University reserves the right to close applications earlier in the event that the course is full. Due to high demand for Presessional English courses you are advised to apply as early as possible.

I am an EU student - can I apply for the Presessional English course?

We welcome applications from EU students. You can demonstrate your level of English with an English language test. 

How do I pay my tuition fees?

Tuition fees must be paid in full before the start of the course.

Information on how to pay for your Presessional English course  

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

If an organisation is paying some or all of your tuition fees, you are required to provide a copy of your course specific sponsorship letter. You are not required to provide these details where:

  • Your course is being paid for by a family member or friend
  • You are paying for your course with a bank loan

Once the details of your sponsor have been received an invoice will be issued for payment. Please note that if we fail to receive payment from your financial sponsor you will be liable for payment of the tuition fees.

Do EU students pay the same tuition fees?

The tuition fees for Presessional English courses are the same for international students and EU students.

Do I need a CAS for an online Presessional English course?

For courses delivered wholly online, you will not be required to hold a CAS and alternative English language qualifications can be considered in your application.

I am under 18 years of age - can I still apply for a Presessional English course?

Provided you are 16 years or older and meet our entry requirements, you can apply for the presessional course. If you are under 18 when you arrive on the university campus, we will ask you to complete a parental consent form.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements?

You must have a conditional offer for a course (undergraduate or postgraduate) at the University of Birmingham.

The minimum English Language score you need for this course depends on the required English Language score for the degree or course you wish to study next. If you have an offer letter from the University of Birmingham, it will tell you the required English Language test score for your chosen course.

Find the right length presessional course for you

How can I prove my academic qualifications for entry?

Given the exceptional circumstances, we will accept scanned or photographed copies of documentation (certificate and transcripts) to confirm your academic results, rather than original copies to confirm your place. You will need to provide original copies once you arrive on campus.

I do not have an offer for the University of Birmingham. Can I attend one of the Presessional English courses?

The Presessional English Courses at the University of Birmingham are only open to and appropriate for someone who has already received an offer for an academic course at the University of Birmingham.

Can I attend a longer length course?

Any requests to join a longer programme than you need will be considered by the Academic Course Director. You will need to send supporting information of why you want to attend a longer length programme when you apply.

Can I still join the presessional course if I don't meet the minimum English Language requirements?

You must meet the minimum English language requirements before joining the presessional course.

If I gain a higher English language score, can I change my offer to a shorter course?

We strongly encourage people to only apply for courses once they have their English language test result and not move to shorter courses.  However due to exceptional circumstances this year, we will consider allowing this on a case by case basis.

Please contact us on to discuss your options.



When can I register with the University of Birmingham?

Once you receive your unconditional offer for the presessional English programme, you will need to register online.

To register online you will need your University username and password. You will receive your username, password and programme title by email. This email will be sent to your personal email address.

Please check your ‘Spam’ folder to ensure that any safeguards you may have will not block this message. You will need to have your passport and visa (if applicable) checked upon arrival and will then be provided with a student identification card.

Will I get a student ID?

We will issue you with a student ID number. You can use this to sign up for an NUS extra card and make the most of the student discounts that come along with it. You will not receive a student ID card for the University of Birmingham until you arrive on Campus.

Further information

How do I access welfare support?

The BIA Welfare Officer and the International Student Support Coordinator both provide support and advice throughout your studies.

Our International Student Support Coordinator has a specific focus on students under the age of 18.  The BIA Welfare Officer can offer Skype (video / phone) or telephone appointments.

As a student of the University, there is a wide range of online resources available to you throughout your studies.  You can find out more about this as well as Frequently Asked Questions on wellbeing support.

Who can I talk to if I have a question about student visas?

Please contact the University’s International Student Team (IST) for all visa advice relating to your studies. The IST are the only University staff members who are authorised to give immigration advice and guidance.

How can I connect with other students at the University?

The Guild of Students has launched the UoB Virtual Neighbourhood on Facebook . This is a virtual place for you to connect with other students, for advice and information, podcasts, mindfulness. You can also access their Instagram

How can I find out more about the course?

If you have any further questions about the presessional English course, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at