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  • Pre-sessional English courses

    Each year we help around 2,000 international students develop their English for academic purposes

  • Free academic language courses

    Available all year round for current international students

  • FutureLearn collaboration

    Nearly 60,000 people have enrolled on our highly rated English as a Medium of Instruction for Academics course


About the Academic Centre for International Students (ACIS)

We boost students' development of academic and English skills through a range of initiatives, including pre-sessional courses. We help them before and during their main degree studies. The support we provide encompasses both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study, and also helps build students' confidence.

We also offer training for overseas colleagues whose first language is not English, and who are using the medium of English to support students. Our bespoke training can be delivered online, in person, or as a combination of both.

Staff engage with the latest teaching research and professional practice.

Our consultancy services include professional language and inter-cultural training for companies and organisations. This means we can work with organisations in different ways to help them improve language skills for non-native English speakers.

Pre-sessional courses

We run pre-sessional courses to help University of Southampton students develop their academic and communication skills before they start their degree with us. Passing the course means they won't need to take an English language test to enrol.

Pre-sessionals give students the opportunity to develop their study skills and meet other students and staff at social and educational events. Whether students choose an online or in-person course, they'll get a taste of UK university life before beginning their degree.

Courses for current students

We have a range of initiatives for current students, whether they're studying for a degree or joining us as part of a study abroad scheme.

English language stages modules

International students who study with us can choose to take English at one of 7 language stages, from intermediate to advanced. The modules are credit-bearing and mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Find out more about our language modules on the credit-bearing language modules page (under the ‘English’ heading).

Standalone modules

We work in partnership with universities around the world to offer study abroad and exchange opportunities for overseas students who are already studying a degree at their home institution. They can choose from a wide range of modules, including these ones run by ACIS:

Study Year Abroad with English

This course is for international students whose first language is not English, and who are currently studying an undergraduate degree in a recognised institution outside the UK. It's designed to prepare students for a semester or year of undergraduate study at Southampton.

Students who have already met the English language conditions for their University of Southampton course also find it useful. It helps them learn more about using English in academic study and academic life in the UK.

Learn more about Study Year Abroad with English

English for Academic Purposes

We run an academic language support programme for international students. It helps develop English language and academic literacy skills during their studies.

All classes are free to international students registered at the University of Southampton. The programme includes classes on:

  • academic writing
  • grammar in writing
  • PhD thesis writing
  • master's level dissertation writing
  • critical thinking
  • speaking skills
  • everyday English
  • intercultural communication

We also offer subject-specific English for academic purposes courses.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS assesses the language proficiency of non-native speakers who want to study, work or live in an English-speaking country. We have extensive experience of supporting students to achieve good scores in IELTS exams.

Find out more about our IELTS support

Academic Language Skills Advising (ALSA)

Academic Language Skills Advising sessions give you an opportunity to discuss any issues related to language learning or academic development on a one-to-one basis. Alternatively, if you have friends with similar problems, we can prepare a 45-minute group session for your needs. These sessions are open to both native English speakers and those who do not speak English as their first language.

All sessions are free and take place in the ACIS Tutorial Room (65/2019) at Avenue Campus or online. Book your sessions with us.

Find out more about our Academic Language Skills Advising (ALSA) services.

Courses for staff

We run a suite of professional development courses to help non-native English speakers improve their language skills to support the students they work with.

‘English as a Medium’ courses

We offer courses for non-native English speakers working in overseas higher education institutions, who use English to communicate for teaching, research or administrative purposes.

Our courses help improve English language skills and include:

  • English as a Medium of Education (EME / EMI)
  • English as a Medium of Administration (EMA)
  • English as a Medium of Research (EMR)
  • English as a Medium of Publication (EMP)

We run staff development courses and refresher courses. They're delivered online, in-person, or as a mixture of the two.

Discover more about our English courses

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS assesses the language proficiency of non-native speakers who want to study, work or live in an English-speaking country. We have extensive experience of supporting people to achieve good scores in IELTS exams. We do this by:

  • supporting students to pass the exam
  • training teachers to work with the exam
  • advising colleagues and policy makers about IELTS

Find out more about our IELTS support

Intercultural awareness workshops

We offer intercultural awareness workshops for staff. We take a holistic approach based on research from various disciplines.

Explore our workshops


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    Modern languages and linguistics research

    Learn about related research areas and explore their real-world impact.

Our research community

Learn about the research centres we’re involved with.


Our mission in ACIS is to enable all students, whatever their linguistic background, to maximise their academic potential through the use of effective academic English.
Head of Department
Our pre-sessional programmes help international students develop skills, knowledge and confidence before they begin their degrees. We continue to support them through the other courses, advising sessions and resources we offer.
Director of Pre-Sessional Programmes
Colleagues in ACIS take a leading role in international collaboration in a range of ways, including supporting and facilitating student mobility and running teacher professional development courses.
Director of Internationalisation and Enterprise
We are here to help in every way! Through the academic year, in addition to language, we deliver a range of useful courses and modules in areas including cultural studies, independent learning, sustainability and transition.
Director of In-sessional courses

Work with us

  • Jobs at Southampton

    Find out about job opportunities at the Academic Centre for International Students.

Contact us

Talk to us, we're happy to help

You can contact us at:
Academic Centre for International Students (ACIS), Building 65, Avenue Campus, Highfield Road, Southampton SO17 IBF
We’re open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

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