How can I improve my English?

So, you’ve made the decision to come study here in the UK, but your English skills aren’t quite up to scratch. Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn how to get yourself up to the required level for an academic course at the University of Portsmouth. If you are still unsure after reading this, then contact us or one of our ambassadors!

There are two main ways to improve your English skills for study at the University of Portsmouth: Pre-Sessional English (PSE) or In-Sessional (EAP – English for Academic Purposes). Your choice depends on your circumstances and offer letter. First we’ll go through and explain Pre-Sessional English and then In-Sessional.

Pre-Sessional English

Pre-Sessional English courses take place before you begin your academic course at university. They aim to increase your current IELTS level (International English Language Testing System).

At the University of Portsmouth our School of Languages and Area Studies (SLAS) offers three in-house Pre-Sessional English courses that are designed to help you improve your English to the point where you can study effectively from the moment you begin your degree. These courses are available to those who hold a conditional offer but do not currently meet the English language requirement. Generally, it takes 6-8 weeks to improve by half an IELTS band. For more detailed information on the three programmes and whether they would be suitable for yourself please check here.

There is also a 4 week refresher course for those who fulfill their language conditions but just want to build on their confidence before starting their degree.

The University of Portsmouth also has a long standing agreement with Language Specialists International (LSI) Portsmouth, a language school that also provides 5 Pre-Sessional programmes designed to meet the needs of a wide range of students. These programmes have different start dates and lengths to SLAS. For more details on what LSI offers please check here.

The main advantage of taking Pre-Sessional English from either the university or LSI, is that these courses enjoy the benefit of being exempted from further IELTS testing, meaning once you’ve successfully completed your English course, you’ll progress on to a university degree course.

There are also Pre-Sessional English courses available in China and for more information on these please contact

In-Sessional English

During your time at University it may not be that your English level is below the standard for entry, simply that you need support with it throughout your studies. This support is facilitated at the University of Portsmouth by the English for Academic purposes team (EAP) who can provide free (at least two hours per week) year round tutoring in the following ways:


Weekly classes are available for undergraduate students (BA, BSc) and postgraduate students (MA, MSc, PhD), and cover:

  • Essay writing
  • Improving your grammar and academic style
  • Academic research skills
  • Presentation and seminar skills
  • Effective reading skills
  • Specialist academic English for postgraduates


They offer a series of individual workshops, to help you develop specific skills at various stages of your study. These include central topics such as:

  • Reading skills
  • Professional communication
  • Data presentation
  • Assistance with academic writing.
  • Oral presentations

For further information on EAP please contact

If you are unsure what course is most suitable for you, then please do contact the International Office on who can assist.

For more information on Pre-Sessional options please visit here and for more on EAP please visit here. We also offer support in the form of our Academic Skills Unit (ASK) wh ocan help you understand and develop your thinking, writing and organisational skills.

Post written by Damiano

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