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English Language Requirements

Information for candidates whose first language is not English (including those who attended an English-speaking University for their undergraduate studies).

Please note: For detailed guidance on English language requirements for all higher education students coming to the UK, please see the Home Office information

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country, you will need to demonstrate that you have a reasonable knowledge of the English language. Usually you will need to provide your score from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination. IELTS score requirements for each programme are shown on the programme web pages. Equivalent qualifications and scores accepted by the RCA are shown below:

IELTS: 6.0, 6.5, 7.0
TOEFL: 80, 90, 100
Pearson: 54, 61, 68
Cambridge CPE & CAE: 169, 176, 185
TEEP: 6.0, 6.5, 7.0
OIBEC: Pass, Pass, Pass
Cambridge ESOL (Skills for Life): Level 1, Level 1, Level 2
Trinity College ISE: ISE II with Distinction in all four components; ISE III with Pass in all four components; ISE III with Merit in all four components

We are aware that, due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, a number of approved English language test centres around the world have been closed. Although some test centres are starting now to re-open, we understand that many students holding offers are concerned about how they will be able to meet the English language conditions attached to their offer. 

We have been reviewing possible alternative test options and can confirm that the RCA will accept the following online English language tests for those holding an offer to begin study in September 2020. More information is available for applicants here.

IELTS Indicator Test
TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition

We have also added the following test, available to students in China:
TOEFL ITP Plus for China

If you have received a second class (upper division) degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking country within the last two years, you are exempt from this requirement when applying for our MA programmes.

If you have not already taken an approved English Language Test and achieved the required score, then we will advise you to book a test if all of the other elements of your application are successful. 

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Pre-Sessional Courses

The College offers an eight-week EAP Pre-Sessional course from July to September every year for applicants who have not reached the required IELTS level before they start their Programme. 

Entry level for the eight-week Pre-sessional Course is IELTS (Academic) 6.0 overall with minimum 5.5–6.0 in the writing, or 6.5 overall with 5.5 in the writing, or an equivalent level recognised by the College.

We also offer a four-week version of the Pre-Sessional course in August–September. This is for students who have reached the required IELTS score for their programme but wish to improve their language skills. The pre-sessional course provides a valuable chance to practise academic English in the context of art and design with authentic and relevant tasks and materials. Find out more about English for Academic Purposes support at the RCA here.

In 2020, both Pre-Sessional courses are offered online.

Home Office English Language Requirements

In addition to the RCA’s minimum requirements, students who need a student visa visa for their studies at the RCA will need to show that they have met the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance into the UK. For detailed guidance on English language requirements for all higher education students coming to the UK, please see the Home Office information.

If you have any queries about the English Language requirements please contact [email protected]

Find Out More at our Online Open Day

If you have any questions about English language requirements or the English for Academic Purposes courses we recommend you attend our online open day on Saturday 17 October. Register now for this virtual event that will you to find out more about the RCA experience, programmes, admissions and funding.


+44 (0)20 7590 4444
[email protected]