English language requirements

All teaching at Sussex is in the English language and you must be sufficiently fluent in English to be able to benefit from your education.

If your first language is not English you will need to demonstrate that you meet the University’s English language requirements for the degree you have applied for. You can do this in a number of ways:

If you have not taken an English language test yet, or do not have a current valid test score, you can still apply for courses, but any offer you receive will normally be conditional on meeting our language requirement.

Our English language requirements 

Details of our specific English language requirements for each course, expressed in terms of IELTS scores or the Pearson’s Test of English (Academic), are shown in the entry requirements section for each of our undergraduate courses.

We have two main levels of English, depending on the course applied for: standard and higher. The standard requirement applies to most degrees; the higher requirement is needed for the Social Work BA and Primary and Early Years Education (with Qualified Teacher Status) BA.

IELTS

In terms of IELTS, these two levels are as follows (but we also accept a number of other English language qualifications):

StandardHigher
An IELTS score of 6.5 overall, with at least 6.0 in each of the four components (Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing) An IELTS score of 7.0 overall, with at least 6.5 in each component (Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing)

The only course that does not use one of these two levels is our Medicine BMBS, which requires an IELTS score of 7.5 overall and not less than 7.0 in each section.

We would expect English language qualifications to have been achieved within the two years prior to starting.

Important update – June 2020

In light of the global situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the challenges some students are facing in registering for an IELTS test, we will accept the IELTS General Training test as well as the IELTS Academic test for entry in September 2020. This will not apply to the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), but for all other courses at the University of Sussex, we will accept either General or Academic IELTS.

Other accepted qualifications

We accept a range of different English language proficiency tests and English language qualifications. Students from certain countries are exempt from our English language requirements. See below for more information: 

Proficiency tests

  • Cambridge Certificate in ADVANCED English (CAE)

    Higher – 185 overall, including at least 176 in each skill 
    Standard – 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

    Please refer to our English language requirements above, and as listed for each of our undergraduate courses, to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

    We would normally expect the CAE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

    You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. For more information about the CAE, please see Cambridge English: Advanced.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

    Higher  185 overall, including at least 176 in each skill 
    Standard  176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

    Please refer to our English language requirements above, and as listed for each of our undergraduate courses, to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

    We would normally expect the CPE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

    You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. For more information about the CPE, please see Cambridge English: Proficiency.

  • Duolingo English test

    For 2020 entry, the University has approved the use of the online Duolingo English test as evidence of your English language ability.

    The online test provides you with an overall score and our requirements are:

    Higher – 125 overall 
    Standard – 115 overall

    Please refer to our English language requirements above, and as listed for each of our undergraduate courses, to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

    We would expect the Duolingo English test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

    Find out more information about the test

  • IELTS

    Higher  7.0 overall, including at least 6.5 in each component
    Standard  6.5 overall, including at least 6.0 in each component

    Please refer to our undergraduate courses to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

    IELTS scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course.

    If you are applying for degree-level study we can consider your IELTS test from any test centre, but if you require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for an English language or in-person pre-sessional English course (not combined with a degree) the test must be taken at a UKVI-approved IELTS test centre. For more information about IELTS, please see the IELTS website.

    Important updates – June 2020

    Acceptance of the IELTS General Training test

    In light of the global situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the challenges some students are facing in registering for an IELTS test, we will accept the IELTS General Training test as well as the IELTS Academic test for entry in September 2020. This will not apply to the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), but for all other courses at the University of Sussex, we will accept either General or Academic IELTS.

    Combining the results of different tests

    Traditionally, we expect you to meet our IELTS requirement in a single test. However, in light of the on-going challenges faced around the world, for 2020 entry, we will allow you to combine the component scores from different tests to meet our English requirement.

    For example, if you have an IELTS test where you have 6.5 overall, but one of your scores is 5.5 (so below our Standard IELTS requirement), but you have another test where you have 6.0 in that same skill, we will allow you to use the two different test scores to show that you have 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each of the four components.

    All tests that you are combining must be within the last two years. Also, you can only combine tests where all components in the test are at least 5.5. If a test contains any individual components of 5.0 or lower, you cannot combine that test with other tests.

  • Pearson (PTE Academic)

    Higher  67 overall, including at least 62 in all four skills
    Standard - 62 overall, including at least 59 in all four skills
    Lower - 59 overall, including at least 59 in all four skills

    Please refer to our English language requirements above, and as listed for each of our undergraduate courses, to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

    PTE (Academic) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. For more information about PTE (Academic), please see the Pearson website.

    Important updates – June 2020

    Combining the results of different tests

    Traditionally, we expect you to meet our Pearson (PTE Academic) requirement in a single test. However, in light of the on-going challenges faced around the world, for 2020 entry, we will allow you to combine the component scores from different tests to meet our English requirement.

    All tests that you are combining must be within the last two years. Also, you can only combine tests which are at B2 level on the CEFR scale. This means you can only combine tests where the overall score is at least 59 and all components in the test are at least 59. If a test is below 59 or contains any individual components below 59, you cannot combine that test with other tests.

  • TOEFL (iBT)

    Higher  95 overall, including at least 22 in Listening, 23 in Reading, 23 in Speaking, 24 in Writing
    Standard  88 overall, including at least 20 in Listening, 19 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 23 in Writing

    Please refer to our English language requirements above, and as listed for each of our undergraduate courses, to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

    TOEFL (iBT) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. For more information about TOEFL (iBT), please see the ETS website.

    The TOEFL Institution Code for the University of Sussex is 9166.

    Important updates – June 2020

    Acceptance of the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition

    In light of the global situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the challenges some students are facing in registering for the TOEFL iBT at a recognised test centre, we will also accept the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test for entry in September 2020. This will not apply to the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, but for all other courses, we will recognise the Special Home Edition. The grades required would be the same as for the TOEFL iBT.

    Combining the results of different tests

    Traditionally, we expect you to meet our TOEFL (iBT) requirement in a single test. However, in light of the on-going challenges faced around the world, for 2020 entry, we will allow you to combine the component scores from different tests to meet our English requirement.

    In other words, if you meet the overall score required, but one or more of your results for the four skills is below our specified requirement, you can use a different TOEFL test to demonstrate you meet those individual component scores.  

    All tests that you are combining must be within the last two years. Also, you can only combine tests which are at B2 level on the CEFR scale. This means you can only combine tests where the overall score is at least 72 and the individual language skills in that test are at least 18 in Reading, 17 in Listening, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing.

English qualifications

You will normally be expected to have completed your qualification within two years before starting your course at Sussex.

If the qualification was obtained earlier than this we would expect you to be able to demonstrate that you have maintained a good level of English, for example by living in an English speaking country or working in an occupation that required you to use English regularly and to a high level. 

  • AS/A-Level (GCE)

    Grade C or above in English Language.

    Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE)/ AS or A-level: grade C or above in Use of English.

  • German Abitur

    German Abitur: a score of 12 or above in English.

  • GCE O-Level

    Grade C or above in English.

    Brunei/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

    Singapore/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

  • GCSE or IGCSE

    Grade C or above in English as a First Language (grade 4 or above in GCSE from 2017).

    Grade B or above in English as a Second Language.

  • Ghana Senior Secondary School Certificate

    Grades 1-6 in English language when awarded before 1993.

    Grades A-D in English language when awarded between 1993 and 2005.

  • Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)

    Higher  Level 5, including at least 4 in each component in English Language
    Standard  Level 4, including at least 3 in each component in English Language

    Please refer to our English language requirements above to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

  • Indian School Certificate (Standard XII)

    The Indian School Certificate is accepted at the grades below when awarded by the following examination boards:

    Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) – English Core only:

    Higher  80%
    Standard  70%

    Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) - English:

    Higher  80% or Grade 2
    Standard  70% or Grade 3

    Please refer to our English language requirements above, and as listed for each of our undergraduate courses, to find the appropriate English level for the course you are applying for.

  • International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

    English A or English B at grade 5 or above (Higher or Standard level).

  • Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education

    Grades A - C in English language.

  • Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) 1119/GCE O Level

    Grades 1-6 (for awards up to 2008) or grades C or above (for awards from 2009) in English Language. Note that the qualification must be jointly awarded by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).

  • West African Senior School Certificate

    Grades A1-C6 (1-6) in English language when awarded by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or the National Examinations Council (NECO).

Exemptions

If you are a national of one of the countries below, or if you have recently completed a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree or higher in one of these countries, you will normally meet our English requirement. Note that qualifications obtained by distance learning or awarded by studying outside these countries cannot be accepted for English language purposes.

You will normally be expected to have completed the qualification within two years before starting your course at Sussex. If the qualification was obtained earlier than this we would expect you to be able to demonstrate that you have maintained a good level of English, for example by living in an English-speaking country or working in an occupation that required you to use English regularly and to a high level.

Please note that this list is determined by the UK’s Home Office, not by the University of Sussex.

  • List of exemptions
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Canada**
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Ireland
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • St Kitts and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • United Kingdom
    • USA

    ** Canada: you must be a national of Canada; other nationals not on this list who have a degree from a Canadian institution will not normally be exempt from needing to provide evidence of English.

Pre-sessional English

These courses are taught at the University and are designed to focus on English for academic purposes and study skills, rather than exam preparation.

You will focus on comprehension for lectures and seminars, critical reading and research projects, note taking, academic writing and other key study skills.

A pre-sessional course will also prepare you for the culture and practice of studying in the UK.

Successful completion of the appropriate pre-sessional English course can be used to meet our English language requirements and gain entry to your chosen degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English courses

English language and visa requirements 

Sussex's English language requirements for degree courses are set at a level that exceeds the minimum requirements for obtaining a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

As a Tier 4 Sponsor, the University of Sussex is able to make its own assessment of each applicant's English language ability when issuing a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for degree-level study and does not need to base the assessment on a UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI)-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) – so if, for example, you are taking an IELTS test it can be from any IELTS test centre. 

Our CAS will state that we have made our own assessment of your English ability, and you will not need to provide evidence of this with your visa application.

However, please note that if you take our pre-sessional English course, and require a CAS to attend this, you will need to demonstrate your English ability for the pre-sessional with a recognised SELT (namely an IELTS from a UKVI-approved IELTS test centre or the Integrated Skills in English test from Trinity College London) and submit it with your visa application.



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