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What you need to know

Find out how to show us your current level of English and what you can do to improve before you start university

Our courses are delivered in English. You need a sufficient level of English to complete your course and take part in classes and discussions, and submit assessments such as coursework and examinations.

You need to demonstrate your English language level by taking an approved English language test and sending us your results. Different courses need different levels of English, usually measured on the International English Language Test System (IELTS). You can see specific course requirements on the relevant course page.

Some countries are exempt from meeting these English language requirements. The list of exempt countries is below.

If you need to improve your English before your course starts, you can join one of our Pre-Sessional English programmes.

Which English test should you take?

Many English tests are available, however you need to take one of the tests we recognise to join us.

In response to Coronavirus, the University is currently accepting alternative English Language tests and will add these to this page, when approved. The University has also temporarily approved an extended validity on tests taken by applicants from the list below, from two years to three years. The current list of approved alternative English Language tests are:

English Language Tests

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. It uses a 9-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) through to expert (band score 9).

You'd normally choose to take an Academic IELTS test, as this is most common for students, but we do accept any type of IELTS test as long as your scores meet your entry requirements for your course. You can see some sample test questions on the IELTS website.

If you want to take a pre-sessional English course or a Foundation course, you must take your IELTS test at an approved UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) test centre.

You can book your IELTS test for UK Visas & Immigration here.

Generally, you need to have the following scores for different course levels:

Foundation courses

If you are interested in a Foundation or pathway course you need a minimum of IELTS band 5.5, with no component below 5.5.

Undergraduate courses

For most of our Bachelor's degrees, you need a minimum of IELTS band 6.0, with no component below 5.5. Some courses, especially those with a high level of discussion and writing, require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

Postgraduate course

For most of our Master's degrees, you need a minimum of IELTS band 6.5–7.0, with no component below 6.0. Some courses and PhDs require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

IELTS scores 5.0–6.5 are equivalent to a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of B2, and a score of 7.0 is equivalent to a CEFR level of C1.

This will be accepted at the usual IELTS criteria for each course.

The TOEFL iBT® (Internet-based test), delivered via the Internet, measures your ability to use and understand English at university level. It also evaluates how well you combine your reading, listening, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks. The University of Portsmouth also accepts valid and verifiable TOEFL MyBest Scores.

As part of this test, you'll be asked for your institution choice to be a score recipient. Quote "3234" in this section to have your TOEFL score sent directly to us by the Educational Testing Service.

Generally, you need to have the following scores for different course levels:

Foundation courses

If you're interested in a Foundation or pathway course you need a score of 72 with a minimum of:

  • 18 in Reading
  • 17 in Listening
  • 20 in Speaking
  • 12 in Writing

Remember, if you're joining us on a Foundation or pre-sessional English course, you must take an approved UK Visas & Immigration test as well. The TOEFL is not recognised by UKVI.

Undergraduate courses

For most of our Bachelor's degrees, you need a score of 79 with a minimum of:

  • 18 in Reading
  • 17 in Listening
  • 20 in Speaking
  • 17 in Writing

Some courses, especially those with a high level of discussion and writing, require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

Postgraduate courses

For most of our Master's degrees, you need a score of 91 with a minimum of:

  • 20 in Reading
  • 19 in Listening
  • 21 in Speaking
  • 20 in Writing

Some courses, especially those with a high level of discussion and writing, require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

Please find more details of this test including available locations and how to register, here. The required score on this test is the same as usual - please find details of the required TOEFL score in the section above.

The Pearson Test of English is another computer based test. It's based on real-life English skills you need to communicate effectively, using academically relevant tasks and measuring skills in an integrated way. 

Please make sure you nominate University of Portsmouth to view your certificate online. This lets our admissions team verify your results. Generally, you need to have the following scores for different course levels:

Foundation courses

If you are interested in a Foundation, or pathway, course you need at least 51 points, with a minimum of 51 in each component. PTE is recognised by the UKVI and so can be used if you're joining us on a Foundation or pre-sessional English course.

Undergraduate courses

For most of our Bachelor's degrees, you need at least 54 points, with a minimum of 51 in each component. Some courses, especially those with a high level of discussion and writing, require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

Postgraduate courses

For most of our Master's degrees, you need at least 61 points, with a minimum of 54 in each component. Some courses and PhDs require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages. 

Trinity College London provides Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) in 10 locations across the UK. These tests are approved for applications to UKVI for visas, British Citizenship and Leave to Remain.

You need an Integrated Skills in English (ISE) Level III with a pass in all 4 components to take 1 of our undergraduate or postgraduate courses.

C1 Advanced, formerly known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE), is a Cambridge English Qualification. It's an in-depth, high-level qualification that shows you have the language skills that universities are looking for.

In 2015, the scoring system of this test was updated, so there are different requirements for scores depending on whether you took the test before or after 2015.

Generally, you need to have the following scores for different course levels:

Foundation courses

If you're interested in a Foundation, or pathway, course you need a score of 47 or above, with a minimum of Borderline in each skill on the pre-2015 test. If you took the test after 2015, you need an overall score of 162 with no component score less than 162.

Undergraduate courses

For most of our Bachelor's degrees, you need a score of 52 or above, with a minimum of Borderline in each skill on the pre-2015 test. If you took the test after 2015, you need an overall score of 169 with no component score less than 162.

Some courses, especially those with a high level of discussion and writing, require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

Postgraduate courses

For most of our Master's degrees, you need a score of 58 or above, with a minimum of Borderline in each skill on the pre-2015 test. If you took the test after 2015, you need an overall score of 176 with no component score less than 169.

Some courses and PhDs require higher scores. You can see course-specific details on the individual course pages.

Please see the Duolingo website for score equivalencies.

The Certificate of Proficiency (ECPE) constitutes an official certification of knowledge of the English language at the C2 level, as outlined by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

It is awarded by the University of Michigan, one of the leading US Universities in the field of linguistic research, with lengthy experience in establishing and developing a broad range of English language examinations.

The ECPE is officially recognised in Greece by the state (Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection) and the private sector as a C2 level certification of English language competence. It is also recognised in several countries and can be used for academic and professional purposes.

Generally, you need to have an average score of 750 pass (P) or higher for all courses.

LanguageCert offers UK Home Office approved SELT exams for UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) worldwide, covering all visa type requirements.

LanguageCert SELT exams are mapped to the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) and the exams range from levels A1 to C2. LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) is a four-skill language exam suite accepted for work and study visas, available at the following CEFR levels: B1, B2, C1, C2. Listening, Reading, Writing (Written component) and Speaking (Spoken component) can be taken independently of each other at the candidates' convenience, as long as they are taken within 14 days.

The benchmark for entry is:

Equivalent to IELTS 4.5: B1 Achiever B1 Overall Pass in the LanguageCert International ESOL (SELT) (minimum Pass in all skills)

Equivalent to IELTS 5.0: B1 Achiever B1 Overall High Pass in the LanguageCert International ESOL (SELT) (minimum Pass in all skills)

Equivalent to IELTS 5.5: B2 Communicator Pass in the LanguageCert International ESOL (SELT) (minimum Pass in all skills)

Equivalent to IELTS 6.0: B2 Communicator High Pass in the LanguageCert International ESOL (SELT) (minimum Pass in all skills)

Equivalent to IELTS 6.5: B2 Communicator High Pass in the LanguageCert International ESOL (SELT) (minimum Pass in all skills)

With all of the above tests, the University of Portsmouth reserves the right to undertake additional applicant checks at the CAS issuance stage.

 

Countries exempt from English language requirements 

If you're from one of the following countries where English is widely spoken, you don't need to have a specific grade in English, but you still need to meet the entry requirements for your course. You can find these on your specific course page.

  • Antigua and Barbuda (nationals)
  • Australia (nationals)
  • Barbados (nationals)
  • Belize (nationals)
  • Canada (nationals – if taught in English)
  • Dominica (nationals)
  • Grenada (nationals)
  • Guyana (nationals)
  • Ireland (nationals)
  • Jamaica (nationals)
  • New Zealand (nationals)
  • St Kitts and Nevis (nationals)
  • St Lucia (nationals)
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines (nationals)
  • The Bahamas (nationals)
  • Trinidad and Tobago (nationals)
  • USA (nationals)

Other English tests and qualifications

We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course. You can find these listed below. The relevant qualifications are also mentioned on the individual country page.

Alternative English language qualifications

  • A or AS Level - Grade D or above in English
  • ESOL Skills for Life (when all three components completed) - Level 1
  • GCSE - Grade C or above in English Language
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma - Standard or Higher Level English Language minimum grade 4
  • International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme - Minimum grade 4-7 in English Language
  • iGCSE First Language English syllabus 0500 and 0522 - Grade C or above in English
  • iGCSE  English as a Second Language syllabus 0510 and 0511 - Grade C or above in English
  • NCUK - Overall grade C required and grade C minimum in all components
  • Overseas course delivered in English (NCQF 5 or above) - Evidence from the institution/provider that the course was fully taught in English for the duration of the study period. Please note we are not able to accept MOI from the following Indian states: Gujarat, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Applicants from these regions must provide an acceptable English Language test.
  • TESA (Test of English for Studies Abroad) - See published IELTS requirements on our course pages

  • Botswana Secondary School Certificate - Grade C or above in English
  • Cameroon General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level - Grade C or above in English
  • Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) - Grade C or above in English
  • Mauritius/Cambridge GCE O Level subject 1125 - GCE O Level grade C (Oral 2) for entry to most UG programmes
  • Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level/Higher Level - Grade C or Grade 3 or above in English
  • Nigeria Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) - Grade C6 or above in English
  • South Africa National Senior Certificate - Grade C or above in First Language English or Home Language
  • Tanzania Certificate of Secondary Education - Grade C or above in English
  • Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) - Grade C or above or between 1-6
  • West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) - Grade C6 or above in English
  • Zambia School Certificate / General Certificate of Education - Grade C or above in English
  • Zimbabwe General Certificate of Education at Ordinary Level - Grade C or above in English

  • Brunei/Cambridge GCE O Level subject 1120 - GCE O Level grade C (Oral 2) for entry to most UG programmes
  • Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) - An overall score of 4 with a minimum of 3 in each component
  • India Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) / Standard 12 - 75% or above in English
  • Malaysia SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) (Malaysia Certificate of Education) - Grades 6C/6/C or above in English (Syllabus 1119 only)
  • Malaysia/Cambridge GCE O Level subject 1119 - GCE O Level grade C (Oral 2) for entry to most UG programmes
  • Singapore/Cambridge GCE O Level subject 1128 -  GCE O Level grade C (Oral 2) for entry to most UG programmes

  • Cyprus Apolytirion - 16 or above in English
  • Czech Republic Vysvědčení o maturitní zkoušce (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) - Grade 2 or above in English
  • European Baccalaureate - Where English is a compulsory subject or a full option with a score of 7.5
  • Finland Ylioppilastutkinto / Studentexamen (Matriculation Examination) - Grade 4 or above in English
  • France Option Internationale du Baccalauréat - Grade 12 or above in English
  • German Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife / Abitur - Grade 10 or above in English
  • Latvia Atestatas - 80% or above in State Exam English
  • Lithuania State Exam - 75 or above
  • Malta Secondary Education Certificate - 1—5 in English Language
  • Malta Intermediate or Advanced Matriculation Examination - C or above in English
  • Netherlands Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) (Gymnasium A/B and Atheneum A/B) diploma - Grade 8 or above in English
  • Norway Vitnemål fra den Videregående Skole (Leaving Certificate from Upper Secondary School) - Grade 4 or above in English
  • Poland Matura - 65% or above in Extended Level English 
  • Portugal Diploma/Certificado Nível Secundário de Educação - Grade 2 or above in English
  • Romania Diplomă de Bacalaureat (Baccalaureate Diploma) - Romania Diplomă de Bacalaureat (Baccalaureate Diploma)
  • Slovakia Vysvědčení o maturitní zkoušce/Maturita - Grade 2 or above in English
  • Sweden Slutbetyg från Grundskola (Compulsory Education Leaving Certificate) - Grade Very 'Good' in English A/B

  • Canada Secondary School Diploma (Ontario only, other territories will be considered) - Grade 10 English above 60%
  • USA High School Graduation Diploma English Grade C or above (where English has been studied to Grade 12) - English Grade C or above (where English has been studied to Grade 12)
  • Other Commonwealth Countries - Cambridge GCE O Level subject 1123 - GCE O Level grade C (Oral 2)
     

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