English language requirements for postgraduate researchers

Postgraduate research students will need an English language qualification at a high level if they wish to study at the University of Leeds. 

The University's standards comply with the QAA Code of Practice for Postgraduate Research Programmes and also meet UKVI English language standards in respect of applying for a student visa. 

Standard requirements: IELTS

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking). IELTS results must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

Faculties, schools and programmes with a higher English language requirement

A school or faculty can raise the required minimum level of English above the University minimum but cannot lower it.

A higher level of English of an IELTS at 6.5 overall, with at least 6.0 in each component, is required in the following schools and faculties: 

  • Faculty of Medicine and Health
  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures
  • School of Education
  • School of Food Science and Nutrition
  • School of Politics and International Studies
  • School of Sociology and Social Policy

Minimum requirements in other schools and programmes:

  • Leeds University Business School requires an IELTS of 7.0 overall with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • The School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies requires an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 7.0 in writing and at least 6.0 in reading, listening and speaking.
  • The School of Law requires an IELTS of 7.0 overall with no less than 6.5 in any component.
  • The Professional Doctorate and the Integrated degree of PhD and MSc in Clinical Dentistry in the Leeds Dental Institute require an IELTS of 7.0 overall with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • All split-site modes of study require an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component.

Alternative qualifications and further information

The Research Postgraduate Admissions Policy provides information and on minimum standards of English language and other accepted qualifications, approved on a University-wide basis by the Graduate Board. Please contact Doctoral College Admissions if you have any questions that are not covered in the policy. 

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirement

If you have a candidate with a strong academic profile who falls just short of the English language entry requirements, they can be given a conditional offer subject to successfully completing a pre-sessional English language course.

In exceptional circumstances, schools may wish to make a special case for an applicant to be accepted despite not meeting the standard English language requirement.

The case must be made on the English language case template and all sections should be completed, including the reason why the applicant cannot meet the standard requirement. 

If the applicant will require a student visa to study in the UK then there is only scope for a case if the applicant has met the English language requirements for their visa application - they must be at CEFR B2, which is an IELTS of 5.5, with at least 5.5 in each component. If the applicant is below this level in any area then the case cannot be considered.

Please see the English language case template for more information.