Pre-sessional English

Students walking on campus

Before you study your degree, you should consider taking a pre-sessional academic English programme. Our pre-sessional programmes are the best way to bring your English up to the level required for university study and develop the study strategies to enable you to perform to the best of your ability on your degree. Successful completion* of one of our pre-sessional programmes at the required level will guarantee you direct entry to your chosen degree.

*Other institutions accept the outcomes for the Heriot-Watt pre-sessional course. Please check with the admissions team for the university and degree you wish to study.

BALEAP logo

Accreditation

Heriot-Watt's pre-sessional English programme is accredited by BALEAP, the British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes.

The BALEAP Accreditation Scheme (BAS) is designed to establish and sustain the standard required of specialist English for Academic Purposes provision to enhance the student experience.

Programme structure and dates

The pre-sessional English programmes comprise four different modules (courses). Each module requires approximately 150 hours of study. 

There are different entry points to the pre-sessional programmes, with the first two modules delivered online and the second two modules delivered on campus. The length of your pre-sessional English programme will depend on your current English level and the demands of the degree you plan to study.

All students are required to successfully complete the final on-campus 6-week assessment module (Module 4) before progressing to their chosen degree.

Pre-sessional English structure and dates breakdown
Programme Duration March 27 – May 5 May 8 – June 2 June 12 – July 7 July 10 – August 18
PSE20 20 weeks Module 1 (online) Module 2 (online) Module 3 (on campus) Module 4 (on campus)
PSE14 14 weeks - Module 2 (online) Module 3 (on campus) Module 4 (on campus)
PSE10 10 weeks    - - Module 3 (on campus) Module 4 (on campus)
PSE6 6 weeks - - - Module 4 (on campus)

Details, fees and entry requirements

PSE20 – March 27 – May 5 2023

•    Fees: £7440 + £60 (examination and administration fee)
•    Start of teaching: Monday 27 March 2023
•    End of teaching / assessment: Friday 18 August 2023
•    Travel week: 5 June – 9 June
•    Results released by Friday 25 August 2023
•    Minimum entry level IELTS 4.5 with no skill lower than 4.5 (UG); IELTS 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5 (PG)
•    Location: online (modules 1 and 2) and on-campus (modules 3 and 4)
•    Deadline for applications: Friday 10 March 2023

14-week PSE- 8 May 2023

•    Fees: £7440 + £60 (examination and administration fee)
•    Start of teaching: Monday 27 March 2023
•    End of teaching / assessment: Friday 18 August 2023
•    Travel week: 5 June – 9 June
•    Results released by Friday 25 August 2023
•    Minimum entry level IELTS 4.5 with no skill lower than 4.5 (UG); IELTS 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5 (PG)
•    Location: online (modules 1 and 2) and on-campus (modules 3 and 4)
•    Deadline for applications: Friday 3 March 2023

10-week PSE – 12 June 2023

•    Fees: £5208 + £60 (examination and administration fee)
•    Start of teaching: Monday 8 May 2023
•    End of teaching / assessment: Friday 18 August 2023
•    Travel week: 5 June – 9 June
•    Results released by Friday 25 August 2023
•    Minimum entry level IELTS 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5 (UG); IELTS 5.0 with Writing 5.0 and no other skill lower than 4.5 (PG)
•    Location: online (module 2) and on-campus (modules 3 and 4)
•    Deadline for applications: Friday 21 April 2023

6-week PSE –10 July 2023

•    Fees: £2232 + £60 (examination and administration fee)
•    Start of teaching: Monday 10 July 2023
•    End of teaching / assessment: Friday 18 August 2023
•    Results released by Friday 26 August 2022
•    Minimum entry level IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0 (UG); IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5 (PG)
•    Location: On campus
•    Deadline for applications: Friday 16 June 2023

6-week PSE – 16 October 2023 (for Semester 2 entry) 

•    Fees: £2232 + £60 (examination and administration fee)
•    Start of teaching: Monday 16 October 2023
•    End of teaching / assessment: Friday 24 November 2023
•    Results released by Friday 8 December 2023
•    Minimum entry level IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0 (UG); IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5 (PG)
•    Location: On campus
•    Deadline for applications: Friday 22 September 2023

Students taking the 20, 14 and 10-week programmes will use the Oxford EAP Intermediate e-book, which is available through the OUP website. You must buy the book to study the first 3 modules of the PSE.

Students taking the 6-week module only do not need to purchase a coursebook.

Aims of the programme

The aim of the PSE is to improve your use of English for Academic Purposes, build your confidence in using English and equip you with the academic study skills you will need to be successful in your chosen degree.

Language learning outcomes – CEFR B2

Reading

R1. Find a variety of academic and professional texts in your field of study and select those appropriate to your purpose and the task  
R2. Apply appropriate academic reading strategies to allow you to read efficiently and effectively  
R3. Understand and critically evaluate selected texts

Writing

W1. Demonstrate language knowledge through the precise use of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.  
W2. Communicate complex ideas effectively in writing using an appropriate structure and showing awareness of purpose, style, register and audience  
W3. Synthesise and effectively integrate source material into your writing  

Listening

L1. Understand extended lecture-style speech and cope with different lecturing styles  
L2. Understand rapid, colloquial speech  
L3. Use a range of listening strategies to allow you to interact confidently with peers and lecturers  

Speaking

S1. Communicate complex ideas effectively in academic contexts  
S2. Interact confidently with peers and lecturers in one-to-one and multi-purpose exchanges with reference to sources where appropriate  
S3. Speak clearly and effectively showing awareness of key features of English pronunciation and syntax   

Academic outcomes

A1. Understand the research process and how knowledge is advanced and apply theory to practice   
A2. Become familiar with some key genres and their communicative conventions in your discipline  
A3. Collaborate to develop shared ideas, engage in peer review and respond to feedback  
A4. Exercise autonomy and initiative in completing tasks     
A5. Reflect critically on learning   
A6. Decode and respond appropriately to different task requirements   
A7. Reference appropriately and with the correct format (APA, Harvard, etc.)  
A8. Understand the impact of ethical choices during the research process   

Assessment and progression

Student readiness for university study will be assessed using a combination of authentic coursework tasks and an end of course language test. 

To progress to their degree at university students need to achieve a minimum grade C (50%) in the coursework component and pass the language test at the required level. 

*Other institutions accept the outcomes for the Heriot-Watt pre-sessional course. Please check with the admissions team for the university and degree you wish to study.

Formative assessment in modules 1 – 3 includes:

  • Class participation 
  • Participation in discussion board tasks
  • Group poster interaction
  • Reflective journal

Summative assessment (Module 4)

  • Research project (40%)
  • Poster interaction (15%)
  • Seminar discussion (25%)
  • Language exam (20%)

How to prepare

All applicants are encouraged to study the Heriot-Watt pre-arrival course.

This will familiarize you with some of the concepts you will learn during the Pre-sessional English programme. 

How to apply

Find out how to apply.

Key information

Academic English Admissions