If your first language is not English, you have to demonstrate that your English language ability is strong enough to succeed on your programme.

Foundation students: IELTS 5.5 overall 

For students coming to the UK for foundation, you must have a UKVI IELTS for visa reasons.  For Foundation at the Dubai or Malaysia campuses we can accept other tests at an equivalent level.

Undergraduates (Bachelors):  IELTS 6.0 overall* or an acceptable equivalent.

*Students for all Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics programmes must have IELTS 6.5.  Students for the Interpreting and Translating languages programmes must have IELTS 7.5

Postgraduates (Masters/PhD): IELTS 6.5 overall* or an acceptable equivalent.

*Students for the Interpreting and Translating languages programmes must have IELTS 7.5

Acceptable language qualifications
Test Foundation Undergraduate Postgraduate
IELTS 5.5 6.0 6.5
Heriot-Watt English Not applicable C C
PTE Academic 44-49* 50-57 58-64
TOEFL IBT 70* 80 90
Cambridge (New) 162-168* 169-175 176-184
Cambridge (Old) FCE (grade C)* FCE (grade B)

FCE (grade A)

CAE (grade C)

Trinity ISE II   Pass in all components Pass in all components

*only acceptable for the Dubai and Malaysia campus foundation programmes.  For the UK, foundation students must have a UKVI IELTS test certificate

If you have done your previous studies with English as the language of instruction, we can usually accept this as evidence of your English level.  Please contact the international office or the admissions team for confirmation of this.

Any qualifications you present as evidence of your English ability must be less than 2 years old.

Pre-sessional study at Heriot-Watt

The best way to prepare yourself for your degree studies is to take a Pre-sessional Academic English course at Heriot-Watt University.  These programmes are specifically designed to make sure you are ready for your university studies.  You are strongly advised to take one of these courses, even if you have met our English Language entry requirements.

At the current time, pre-sessional programmes are not offered at the Dubai or Malaysia campuses.

For more information on the Academic English courses we offer; programme content, entry requirements, course dates and fees see Pre-sessional Academic English courses.

Achieving grade C in your assessments on our Pre-sessional Academic English courses enables you to progress to your degree at Heriot-Watt University. Successful progression to your Heriot-Watt degree in the same academic year entitles you to a discount of 50% of your pre-sessional fee.  This is applied at the point you enrol on your Heriot-Watt degree programme in the form of a of a tuition fee reduction on your degree programme fee.