Pre-sessional English Language

  • Length
    See table below
  • Department
    English Language Centre

Course overview

This intensive programme is for international students about to start full-time study at a UK university.

This programme is more than just a language course, which is why it is longer than other pre-sessional programmes you might find elsewhere. It will also familiarise you with the British education system, and will develop your study skills. And it is tailored to the arts and social sciences, so it’s ideal if you’re planning on studying these subjects in the future.

The programme covers:

  • English language
  • Academic study skills
  • Cultural background studies
  • Critical analysis

There is continuous assessment through regular assignments, especially listening exercises, presentations and essays. At the end of the programme, you receive a profile of your performance and progress, and recommendations for your future language development.

Dates and Fees for 2017

12 June – 1 September 2017 (£3,960)
3 July – 1 September 2017 (£3,300)
31 July – 1 September 2017 (£2,010)

There are different IELTS requirements depending on the length of the programme you want to apply for. See below for details.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Programme Convenor, Marl'ene Edwin

Modules & structure

This programme consists of several entry points: you start the programme in either May, July or August, and finish in September. 

Students who start the programme in May are provided with more general EAP (English for Academic Purposes) modules. This is especially important for students whose previous experience of English learning has focused on IELTS or general English only. 

Writing Skills
Academic writing skills are vitally important at university, as much assessment on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes is based on the student’s written work. Even if you are studying fine art or design, you will still be expected to produce high quality pieces of academic writing. Three classes per week are therefore dedicated to improving your academic writing: In Writing Skills I and II, you will learn the conventions of academic writing at UK universities, including academic style, paragraphing, introductions and conclusions, supporting your arguments, criticality, referencing conventions and how to compile a bibliography. In Writing Skills III, you will put these various skills into practice, as you work on producing your pre-sessional essay. Throughout the module, there is also a focus on typical language mistakes (for example, articles, singular/plural agreement, and inconsistency of tense). Feedback on homework exercises takes place regularly, and materials are provided in the specially produced Goldsmiths pre-sessional Academic Writing Pack.

Cultural Background and Globalisation
The effects of postmodernity and globalisation have influenced all of our lives, both at the macro level of global economics and international relations, but also at a very personal level, in terms of how we think, what we believe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and even where we choose to study! This module focuses particularly on deepening our understanding of the processes of postmodernity and the cultural effects of globalisation, exploring current debates and considering how they affect your area of study. Vocabulary, reading, listening, presentation and writing skills are all developed in this module, and there is the chance to do some independent research. Students may base their pre-sessional essay on the ideas discussed on this module.

Lecture Cycle: Postmodernities
This series of lectures is attended by all pre-sessional students and is about the time period known as postmodernity, and the inter-related set of ideas collectively known as postmodernism. It covers a range of issues of concern to Goldsmiths academics and students, particularly those studying in the fields of Cultural Studies, Media and Communications, Sociology, Literature, Design and Fine Art. By taking the module, students develop their academic listening and speaking in an integrated way, with a particular emphasis on academic vocabulary development. Students will also learn many of the key concepts in contemporary critical theory, and how they can be used to analyse and gain a deeper understanding of their field of study. Students may choose to base their essay on one of the thinkers discussed on the module, showing how their ideas relate to their subject.

Textual Analysis
This module is an academic reading skills module, and skills such as skimming and scanning are practised. In addition, it allows practice in analysing the structures of academic writing: grammatical usage, sentence structure (syntax) and organisation of content, for example, how an argument is developed. Through the module, students will engage with real academic texts, and develop their ability to read and comprehend difficult ideas. The texts are collected in a course reader, and relate to the thinkers covered in the postmodernities lectures. Each week, the textual analysis reading text will form the pre-reading to prepare for the specific lecture topic.  

Specialist Lectures and Lecture Feedback
The Goldsmiths pre-sessional has a second weekly lecture, which will allow you to further develop the listening and comprehension skills needed for the lectures on your degree programmes. For this course, students can choose one of the following options:

Global Cinemas
Each week, Global Cinemas will focus on a film from a different country, and as the course progresses, students will develop a critical framework for considering, discussing and critiquing ideas around the medium of film.




20th/21st-Century Art History 
The 20th/21st-century Art History lectures focus on the main movements in western art from the early twentieth century to the present day, including the so-called ‘Young British Artists’, many of whom studied at Goldsmiths.

Both lecture programmes allow practice in listening, note-taking, analysis and discussion. The lecture feedback sessions on Friday mornings are held by the language tutors and involve comprehension checks, vocabulary development and further expansion of the themes introduced, plus lecture summary writing as homework.

Seminar Skills 
It is very common in UK universities for students to attend seminars where they discuss the key ideas from a lecture or from their module more generally. All students are expected to contribute to these debates, to discuss their understanding of ideas and even to critique theories. Thus, the ability to participate in academic discussions is a key skill for international students. This module concentrates on developing your communicative skills in seminars and when giving presentations. The full participation of all students is encouraged, and discussions and mini-presentations will take place around academic topics either suggested by the students themselves, or on contemporary news issues chosen from newspapers and magazines. You will therefore have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and engage in debate. Language feedback will be given regularly.

Independent Study 
A significant part of UK university study is self-directed, and on your degrees you will be expected to study independently and manage your own learning on top of the timetabled lectures and seminars. Thus, Independent Study is the part of the pre-sessional where you take responsibility for your own language development: You will spend this time doing homework, preparing presentations, or researching and writing your essays. By doing this, you will also be developing your time-management skills and gaining confidence in yourself as an autonomous learner.

The tutorial is an essential feature of the UK university system. During the pre-sessional, you will have regular meetings (tutorials) with a tutor, either one-to-one, or in small study groups. Group sessions are to explore areas of general interest to the group and individual sessions are to discuss privately the personal and academic concerns of each student. Tutorials are an important and necessary aid to success and progress in your studies, and as the course continues, they will focus on the progress of your essay, with the tutor acting as supervisor. Every student will be assigned a personal tutor in the first week.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

You must be at least 18 years old when you start the programme. Please see the table above for details of the IELTS requirements for each course. 

12 weeks full time

You can join the 12-week programme if your current overall UKVI IELTS score is -1.0 below the requirement for the degree you’re joining.

The table below indicates what this will be. There are no minimum skill score requirements:

Degree entry requirement

Entry requirement for the 12 week programme









9 weeks full-time

You can join the 9-week programme if your current overall UKVI IELTS score is -0.5 below the requirement for the degree you’re joining.

The table below indicates what this will be. There are no minimum skill score requirements.

Degree entry requirement

Entry requirement for the 9 week programme









5 weeks full-time

You can join the 5-week programme if your current overall UKVI IELTS score is -0.5 below the requirement for the degree you’re joining.

The table below indicates what this will be. There is also a minimum writing skill score requirement; details are below.

Degree entry requirement

Entry requirement for the 5 week programme


6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in writing)


6.0 (with a minimum of 6.0 in writing)


5.5 (with a minimum of 5.5 in writing)


The English Language Centre
specialises in teaching English language and academic writing

English Language Centre

Come and learn from a dedicated team of specialists. Some of our team have worked in this area for over 20 years.

We offer courses for:

  • students with English as a second language
  • native English speakers who are keen to develop their skills in academic writing

These courses range from standalone foundation years and pre-sessional courses right through to in-sessional courses that you complete during your degree programme.

It’s also possible to book an appointment with our resident Royal Literary Fund Fellows – professional writers who can help you improve your essay-writing skills.

Find out more about the English Language Centre.

Fees & funding

Dates and Fees for 2017

12 June – 1 September 2017 (£3,960)
3 July – 1 September 2017 (£3,300)
31 July – 1 September 2017 (£2,010)

How to apply

To apply for the Pre-sessional programme, please download an English Language Centre application form.

Once completed, please send this to:

English Language Centre
Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross
London SE14 6NW
United Kingdom

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