English for Academic Purposes Presessional

Presessional English courses

Start date
2021-22 entry: Please see course details
Between 6 and 42 weeks, please see course details
Course Type
Postgraduate, Presessional English, Undergraduate, Presessional English

Presessional English programmes at the University of Birmingham improve your academic English in readiness for your studies. 


Courses are offered during term-time and the summer with flexible entry points and online (sometimes referred to as distance learning or 'DL') and bi-modal on campus options. Please be assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

Special measures due to the COVID-19 outbreak

If you have applied, or intend to apply to our Pre-sessional English programmes please note that we have put in place more flexible arrangements due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The following English language qualifications will also be accepted for Presessional English courses taken online or for when an integrated CAS can be issued for on-campus courses.

IELTS Academic (non-UKVI) qualifications can also be accepted in the same way.

  • TOEFL “At Home” Test
  • Duolingo English Test

2021-22 Presessional English course dates:

  • 31 week - starts 10 January 2022 - ends 16 September 2022 - On campus
  • 11 week - starts 10 January 2022 - ends 25 March 2022 - On campus
  • 20 week - starts 25 April 2022 - ends 16 September 2022 - On campus
  • 15 week - starts 30 May 2022 - ends 16 September 2022 - On campus
  • 10 week - starts 20 June 2022 - ends 26 August 2022 - Online
  • 10 week - starts 11 July 2022 - ends 16 September 2022 - On campus
  • 6 week - starts 18 July 2022 - ends 26 August 2022 - On campus
  • 6 week - starts 18 July 2022 - ends 26 August 2022 - Online
  • 4 week - starts 15 August 2022 - ends 9 September 2022 - On campus

 Find the right length presessional course for you


The Presessional English Pathway is for international students who hold a conditional offer to study at the University of Birmingham, but who do not currently meet the English language requirements. The Presessional English for Academic Purposes programme is tailored to your level of English and allows you to meet the English language requirements without retaking an English language test. These courses are suitable for: Undergraduate and Foundation students; Postgraduate students (taught and research); PhD students; and Study Abroad students. 

You can be assured that all our Presessional English programmes will run to a high standard whether online or campus-based. They are designed to develop your English language and academic skills in preparation for your studies at the University of Birmingham. 

Iā€™d recommend taking a BIA programme rather than re-taking an IELTS test because the Presessional is more interesting. We had some fascinating discussions in class and there is no better way to improve your English fluency than exchanging points of view with people from different cultures."

Violaine Bucchiotty (France), International student studying at Birmingham International Academy

Why study this course?

The Presessional courses are designed to help you improve your English language and academic skills in a relatively short period of time, developing your accuracy and fluency in English for academic study. You will be taught by qualified tutors, experienced in teaching English for Academic Purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions for our Presessional English courses


Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

Visit our FAQs



You will need to pay the full balance of the course fee by the end of the first week of the course:

Fees by course length

Course lengthFees
31 weeks - spring 2021/22 £12,214
11 weeks - spring 2022 £4,334
20 weeks - summer 2022 £7,880
15 weeks - summer 2022 £5,910
10 weeks - summer 2022 £3,940
6 weeks - summer 2022 £2,364
4 weeks - summer 2022 £1,576


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

Cancellations and refunds: for details of the Presessional refund policy, please go to: www.birmingham.ac.uk/international/bia/presessional/refund-policy.aspx

Additional Course Costs

There are no additional course costs.

How To Apply


For Presessional English courses, application deadlines run one week prior to the start date for online (DL) courses and for on campus courses starting in the summer, applications must be made 6 weeks before the start of the course.

Students holding offers for the Foundation course must upload a copy of their Kaplan offer letter to their presessional application.

Please note that Online Presessional English courses are marked 'DL' (Distance Learning) in the University application system.

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.

Before applying please read the following:

Important information about presessional courses at the University of Birmingham

Apply now for our Summer presessional courses

Apply now for our 4 week EAP unconditional presessional course

When clicking on the Apply Now button above you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you can create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. 

Please note that for online courses, you should apply for the course marked 'DL' (Distance Learning).

If you have any queries please contact: presessional@contacts.bham.ac.uk

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.  This is usually a test score for IELTS (UKVI), TOEFL or Pearsons Academic.

The following English language qualifications will also be accepted for Presessional English courses taken online or for when an integrated CAS can be issued for on-campus courses.

IELTS Academic (non-UKVI) qualifications can also be accepted in the same way.

  • TOEFL “At Home” Test
  • Duolingo English Test


Find the right length presessional course for you


Please note that in order to meet UKVI entry requirements all Presessional applicants for our campus based courses  who need a Student Route visa must provide a valid official Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate, attaining at least a B1 level of English in all skills.

The Presessional English courses

The Presessional English courses are produced by our own academic staff at the University and designed to help you to develop your English language and academic skills in preparation for your studies at the University of Birmingham. 

  • Accuracy and fluency in English for academic study
  • Academic reading and writing skills and critical use of source materials
  • The ability to listen to lectures, take notes and participate in academic discussions
  • Speaking skills for presentations and seminars
  • Grammatical competence and strategies for building discipline-specific vocabulary

Teaching takes place in small classes with no more than 18 students to maximise class participation. Regular 1-1 tutorials are provided every two weeks to provide feedback on your learning. Additional language support is available during summer Presessional courses. The minimum enrolment age is 16.

  • Your programme will 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 (face-to-face and/ or online) to discuss your progress and answer any questions.
  • You will be assessed using a mixture of coursework and live examinations.
  • On campus classes will be delivered fully face to face; we may need to revise this should Covid restrictions change. Online classes will be delivered via Zoom.

Read more about our flexible arrangements 

Student views

Faysal Khaleel (PhD Mechanical Englineering)

"The variety of topics we touched upon during the course has given me considerable knowledge about the latest official statistics and the related global and local trends. I can speak, write, and read in English with much greater fluency and accuracy than before, to the extent that I am now very close to using English as the native speakers do."


Jia Sue (China)


"I developed my skills and learned how to write and reference a good essay, how to summarise and paraphrase ideas and how to collect information for an essay. It was all extremely useful for my current studies. The people on my course who had not done this Presessional found it more difficult so I would recommend doing a Presessional course instead of re-taking IELTS."     


Contact Hours

The first week of your programme includes an introduction to all the University’s facilities and student support services. The last 1-2 weeks of the course is usually timetabled for assessment and feedback on your progress.

Presessional courses taught face-to-face on campus have 15.8 hours of tuition per week. This is 19 classes of 50-minute lessons. Classes are held Monday to Friday and are scheduled between 9.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m.

Live online classes are of 45 minutes duration with 19 sessions per week (or 14.25 hours total weekly). Live online teaching is scheduled between 8.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. GMT.

Up to 20 hours per week should be allowed for completion of all pre and post-class activities and coursework. Timetabled online sessions will take into account the needs of students studying in different time zones. 

During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the proportion of in-person teaching may vary depending on UK Government guidelines and covid-related restrictions.

Sample timetable for on-campus Presessional English 2022
  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
 9 - 9:50 am  Reading and Writing  Reading and Writing  Academic Orientation  Reading and Writing  Reading and Writing
 10-10:50 am  Reading and Writing  Reading and Writing   Academic Orientation  Reading and Writing  Reading and Writing
 11-11:50 am Listening and Speaking Listening and Speaking   Academic Orientation Listening and Speaking Listening and Speaking
 12- 12:50 pm Listening and Speaking Listening and Speaking  Enrichment Listening and Speaking  Listening and Speaking
 1-1:50 pm   Enrichment   Enrichment   Enrichment   Enrichment   Enrichment

Enrichment classes are in addition to the taught classes scheduled weekly.

There is no teaching on Saturday or Sunday. 

Please note that the Spring Bank Holiday in 2022 will be moved to Thursday 2 June and Friday 3 June will be an additional bank holiday to mark The Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The University will be closed over the Easter break from Friday 15 April (Good Friday) to Wednesday 20 April 2022. There is a one week break after the Easter closed period.

Additional bank holidays and University closed days are: Monday 2 May, Thursday 2 June, Friday 3 June (Platinum Jubilee), Monday 29 August.

Assessment Methods

All courses are assessed using a mixture of coursework, portfolio assessment and tests.Over the duration of your course, you will study three modules:

  • Reading and Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Academic Orientation/English for Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP).

Each module assesses your language skills: Reading, Writing Speaking and Listening. You will need to meet the English Language Entry Requirements for your programme with your scores in these assessments:

  • Reading and Writing module - you will take a Reading into Writing exam.
  • Speaking and Listening module - you will take a listening exam and take part in a seminar discussion
  • ESAP module - you will provide activities from your course work and you will do a group presentation.  


The requirements for successful completion of your English presessional programme are:

  • The achievement of the appropriate final mark for all assessed work (examinations and assessed coursework)
  • A minimum of 90% attendance
  • Fulfilment of the university requirements for reasonable diligence


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.

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