What can I expect from the LSI/IH Portsmouth Pre-Sessional course?


Our university preparation courses are designed to make the transition to the British higher education system easier and to give you the best chance of success on your course! If you have any questions, we will be happy to help. Get in touch!

Did you know?


You can now take our Pre-Sessional Course online.

This can be taken from the comfort of your home!


Click here to find out more!

Why choose the LSI/IH Portsmouth Pre-Sessional Course?

happy pre-sessional students who have completed the LSI/IH Portsmouth pre-sessional course

  • Excellent academic reputation


LSI/IH Portsmouth has been offering English language courses since 1985 and university Pre-Sessional courses since 2002. Since 2010, over 1,200 students have successfully passed our courses and started their university degrees. According to the EL Gazette, based on the British Council inspection results we are officially joint number one language school in the UK.


  • Direct progression to one of our academic partners

Passing LSI/IH Portsmouth’s Pre-Sessional course gives you direct entry to all of our excellent academic partners’ courses – you do not need to take your IELTS test again.


  • Quality partners

All of our partners have something special to offer our students. For more information about who our partners are, see here.


  • Intensive high quality tuition in small classes

On LSI/IH Portsmouth’s Pre-Sessional course, you study in small groups of maximum 12 students for 22.5 hours a week. You will get daily and weekend homework to help you make the best progress and have the best chance of success. Weekly feedback and tutorials every two weeks means you will always know your progress and your teachers really understand what you need.


  • LSI/IH Portsmouth is an independently-managed private language school

From our reception staff to our teaching team to our Principal, we really care about every single one of our students and we pride ourselves on our quality and service. As we are a small school, all staff and students are in the same building, so we have close relationships and excellent communication and are here to help you at all times.


  • Quality staff

All our Pre-Sessional teachers have the highest teaching qualification (TEFLQ as recognised by the British Council, meaning a Master’s or Diploma in English Teaching to Adults) and are knowledgeable, committed, professional, and caring. Our Academic Management Team and school Principal are also TEFLQ and all are ex-teachers too, so we really care about academic quality.


  • Personal care and attention

Moving to a new country can be difficult, but we have a large team of people ready to help you. From your teachers, whom you will see every day, to our trained and qualified student welfare team, to our student support officer who speaks Chinese, to our Director of Studies and our Principal, we are all here to support you and help you succeed.


  • Portsmouth is a lively university city

With over 20,000 students out of a population of 205,000, Portsmouth is big enough to be exciting, but small enough for you to feel at home. LSI/IH Portsmouth is right in the centre of the city and in the heart of the student area. Cafés, bars, restaurants, shops, theatres, live music venues and pubs full of British and overseas students are all around us. You can also have access to all the University of Portsmouth facilities as well as join the University Union clubs and societies while at LSI/IH Portsmouth – the perfect way to make British university friends! To find out more about Portsmouth, click here.


  • Portsmouth is the UK’s only island city

With the sea on 3 sides and miles of beaches, you can enjoy the fresh air and open space, meet friends, play sport or have barbecues on the extensive parkland next to the beach.


  • LSI/IH Portsmouth has great facilities and resources

LSI/IH Portsmouth has 55 well-equipped classrooms with interactive whiteboards in our bigger rooms, a student lounge with flatscreen TV, table tennis, pool table, piano and free Wi-Fi, two study centres, and a student computer room. We also have a lovely cafe on the ground floor which is open to the public but offers fantastic discounts to our students. We also have a busy social programme running 6 days a week with an excursion every Saturday (To find out more about the social programme, click here). We have everything you need to make sure you enjoy your time here and get the best results from your studies.

Key information:

Pass rate 98%
Course length 4-20 weeks
Class size Maximum 12
Required IELTS level 3.0 to 6.5

What do I get from the LSI/IH Portsmouth University Preparation Course?

Our Pre-Sessional course aims to make sure you have all the necessary skills for coping with a wide range of study situations and activities that you will experience at university, including lectures, seminars, tutorials/supervisions, private study and reading, library use, essays and reports, primary research, and examinations. It also builds skills generally applicable to academic study such as time management, critical thinking and IT skills. By the end of the course, you will understand what will be expected of you on your course and you will be well-prepared to do your best.

During the course you will work in small groups of 12 maximum and you will get 22.5 hours tuition a week. In addition to this, you will complete independent study tasks and homework which will give you lots of opportunities for practice and help you to improve more quickly.


Your teachers, who are all TEFLQ (the highest level of English language training), will monitor your progress and meet with you regularly to talk about it. This means that you will always have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses and whether you are performing at the standard required. In this way, if there are any problems or worries, we can talk them through with you as soon as they develop and try to agree solutions with you, which makes sure you have the best possible chance of passing the course.

Our staff are also here to help you to settle in. The UK may be a new country for you, perhaps it is your first time away from home, or maybe it is just a new school or just a new course. Either way, we are here to support you. Your teachers, our welfare team and our Director of Studies will be there to offer advice and help whenever you need it so that you can feel settled before you start your university course. One of the ways to do this is to take part in our busy social programme which includes activities every weekday after school and a trip every weekend. It’s a great way to make friends and get to know your new home once you have got your homework finished!

Typical Pre-Sessional Course Timetable

Monday to Thursday


08.45 – 10.00: Lesson 1

10.00 – 10.15: Morning Coffee Break

10.15 – 11.30: Lesson 2

11.30 – 12.45: Lunch

12.45 – 14.00: Lesson 3

14.00 – 14.15: Afternoon coffee break

14.15 – 15.30: Lesson 4


08.45 – 10.00: Lesson 1

10.00 – 10.15: Morning Coffee Break

10.15 – 11.30: Lesson 2

2 hours each evening: Homework/assignments

There are no lessons on Friday afternoons: this is spent on homework, weekend assignments, and project research. Exact starting and finishing times may change, but there will always be 22.5 hours of taught classes per week (except where there is a public holiday).


University Preparation – Course Aims and Outcomes


Course Aims:

  • To provide you with the language and study skills you need to cope with the demands of an advanced degree course delivered through the medium of English.
  • To familiarise you with the expectations, culture and conventions of British universities.
  • To increase your ability to take responsibility for your own learning and to be able to become a successful independent learner.
  • To help you to adapt to living and studying in the UK.


Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course, you will be expected to have:

  • An ability to communicate successfully with native and non-native speakers of English in a wide variety of contexts such as seminars, tutorials/supervisions, and private study groups.
  • An ability to listen and take notes effectively in the context of lectures and seminars.
  • An ability to deal with a range of written academic texts effectively, reading efficiently, extensively, intensively and critically.
  • An ability to research and write well-structured and comprehensible academic essays and extended independent research reports which meet university standards in terms of structure, evidence of research, academic vocabulary and grammar, organisation and referencing.
  • An ability to give a well-structured and comprehensible oral academic presentation using PowerPoint.
  • An ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills in oral and written work.
  • Time management skills which enable you to produce work to meet deadlines.
  • An ability to take increasing responsibility for your studies and to engage in private study, working both independently and collaboratively.
  • The ability to conduct independent academic research, using a wide range of reference material from libraries and online resources.
  • IT skills which enable you to produce word processed documents, academic posters and presentation slides which meet university requirements in terms of formatting and presentation.
host family 2


Do you want to live with a local homestay family or find your own accommodation? We will do everything we can to give you the best option to suit your needs and to help and support you with your living arrangements in Portsmouth.

Read more

arundell students

Social Programme

Joining our social programme and meeting other students is not just a great way to improve your English, but it’s also an opportunity to make friendships which could last a lifetime! Our social programme is full and varied, ranging from sports events to nights out to cultural activities.

Read more



LSI/IH Portsmouth Pre-Sessional FAQ


Starting the University preparation course

  • Who is the pre-sessional course for?

The PSE course is an academic English course designed for students who are preparing to go to university in the UK. It will help you to learn key skills for university and to improve your academic English.

  • Should I do an IELTS course or a PSE course?

If you feel you need to improve your academic skills and / or you are not confident about achieving the necessary IELTS score, then a PSE course is probably the best course for you.

  • What do I need to get on the course?

You need to be over 18 years of age and meet the academic requirements for admission to one of the following programmes: Foundation Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Pre-Master’s Programme, Master’s Degree, Research Degree.

  • Are my IELTS grades enough?

See Language levels for examples of IELTS scores and course lengths.

If you are applying for a Tier 4 Visa, you will need to have a minimum of IELTS 4.0 overall and for each individual element.

If you are applying for a Student Visitor Visa, you will need a minimum of IELTS 4.0 overall with no element below 3.5.

Your IELTS grades must be no more than 2 bands below the IELTS grades your university course demands and we will look at both individual and overall IELTS (or equivalent) scores. For example, if you have 4.5, 4.0, 6.0, 5.0 for reading, listening, writing and speaking and 5.0 overall, and your offer letter requires 6.0 with nothing less than 5.5, you would need to do a 16 week course. This is because the biggest difference is between the current and required reading score (current: 4.0, required: 5.5). This is a difference of 1.5 bands and this requires a 16 week course.

  • What length of course do I need?

Below is a table showing the difference in IELTS bands between what the university wants and what you currently have (remember that individual components are also taken into consideration):

Difference in IELTS bands Course required
2.0 20 weeks
1.5 16 weeks
1.0 11 weeks
0.5 7 weeks
0.0 4 weeks

Please see also Language levels for more details.

  • How much does the LSI/IH Portsmouth University preparation course cost?

To see out full list of dates and prices, click here.

  • What visa do I need?

For all Pre-Sessional courses, unless you are exempt, you will require a valid visa. You must apply for your visa at your local UK Embassy visa office in your home country. You may apply for a Student Visitor Visa or a Tier 4 visa.

Tier 4 visas will either be sponsored by LSI/IH Portsmouth or by your university.
Student Visitor Visas and Tier 4 visas sponsored by LSI/IH Portsmouth will cover your Pre-Sessional course only and you will need to return home at the end of the Pre-Sessional course in order to apply for a Tier 4 visa to cover your degree programme. This will be sponsored by your University.

The Standard visit visa now allows students to come and study in the UK for a course of up to six months. The Short-Term Student visa is now limited to individuals who wish to study an English language course that is 6 to 11 months long. Please note that you cannot apply for a Standard Visit Visa from inside the UK.

If you are on an 11, 7 or 4-week course and have an offer for the University of Portsmouth, you may apply for a Tier 4 visa which is sponsored by the University of Portsmouth. This covers both your Pre-Sessional course and your degree programme. In this case, you do not need to return home to renew your visa at the end of your Pre-Sessional.

All students applying for a Tier 4 visa will need a CAS Number (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies Number). If you are applying for a visa which covers your Pre-Sessional and your degree programme, you will get this number from your university. If you are applying for a visa which covers the LSI/IH Portsmouth Pre-Sessional only, you will receive your CAS number from LSI/IH Portsmouth. In order to get a CAS number, you will need to send the following:

      • A copy of your passport
      • A copy of your current Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate
      • A copy of your university offer letter
      • Proof of payment of the tuition fees for your course

If you are applying for a Student Visitor Visa (not a Tier 4 visa) and would like advice on which English language qualifications can be accepted, please contact us admissions@lsi-portsmouth.co.uk .

  • How can I register for the course?

If you already hold a conditional offer for a degree course with one of our partners, please complete our registration form and email it to: admissions@lsi-portsmouth.co.uk We must also receive a copy of your passport, current Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate and a copy of your University conditional offer, if applicable.

  • How can I find accommodation in Portsmouth?

We are happy to help you find a Homestay. Homestay is ‘half-board’ (breakfast and dinner during the week, all meals at weekends). Students need to arrive at their home stay on a Sunday and leave on a Saturday. We are proud of the fact that we work with the very best homestay families, which is helped by the fact that, in this stunning and historic university city of 200,000 people, there are few language schools. In addition, we also offer private home accommodation (more than 4 students in a home). There might be less contact with the hosts but the facilities supplied will be the same as living with a homestay family.

You may want to stay in independent accommodation, which you find for yourself. Prices start at approximately £90 per week for a room in a shared house, not including utility charges, council tax or internet. For more information on the accommodation options offered at LSI/IH Portsmouth, please click here.

The University halls of residence may be available during the summer period (June – August). Subject to availability, prices are available on request. The halls are ‘self-catering’ with shared cooking facilities. Private bathrooms may be available. Full fees are required at the time of booking and are non-refundable.

Click here for full terms and conditions.

  • How much does accommodation cost?
      • Homestay costs £165 p/w (non-summer) and £175 p/w (summer). Extra night £30. Summer prices apply from Monday 6th June – Friday 26th August 2022.
  • How much do taxis cost from and to the airport?


      • On arrival: £135
      • On arrival and departure: £210


      • On arrival: £70
      • On arrival and departure: £120

Please let us know when booking if you would like us to organise your taxi transfer for you.

  • Which universities do you work with?

LSI/IH Portsmouth currently works with: the University of Portsmouth, International College Portsmouth (ICP), the University of Chichester, the University of South Wales, Bangor University, and Kingston University London. To see more information about our University partners click here.

  • When do the LSI/IH Portsmouth courses start?

To see our full list of course dates, click here.

  • What is your pass rate for the course?

Our average pass rate is 98%.

Studying on the LSI/IH Portsmouth University preparation course

  • What do I need to bring for the course?

You MUST have a laptop or large tablet with keyboard which is WiFi enabled and is in the English language. It is very important that it is in English so that your teacher can help you with tasks on the computer. You must also have a printer as a lot of your work is required in printed format on paper. You must also have an official version of Microsoft Office in English. They are downloadable from: Here.

  • What kind of work will I do on the course?

You will have to do lots of reading and writing as well as speaking and listening. A lot of your time will be spent reading books or websites in English and making notes on it in English (researching). In class, a lot of your time will be spent working in pairs and groups. Our teaching methods are highly interactive and require you to take part in classroom activities such as discussions and seminars. Outside of class, you will be required to do independent study and at least two hours of homework a night. Homework often consists of reading, writing and research tasks.

  • What will I learn?

You will learn the following skills on the PSE course:

      • Research skills
      • Academic writing including grammar
      • Vocabulary, referencing and avoiding plagiarism
      • Academic reading
      • Listening and note-taking
      • Speaking, for example in seminars and tutorials
      • Presentations
      • Pronunciation
      • Critical thinking
      • Time management
  • Who teaches this course?

All of our Pre-Sessional teachers are highly qualified and have either a Masters in Applied Linguistics or a Diploma in English Language Teaching (the highest level of language teaching qualification). They are all thoroughly trained in Pre-Sessional teaching and consequently have a really good understanding of the skills and knowledge you will need for university.

  • Is the course difficult?

Yes, the course is difficult because you will be trying to make a big improvement in your level very quickly. This means that you will have to work very hard and you will have a lot of homework. But, this process is usually faster than trying to improve your IELTS score and at the end of the course you will be well-prepared for your university course so your future studies should be much easier for you.

  • When are the classes?

The classes are Monday to Friday.

They usually begin at 09:00 and finish at 15:45 Monday to Thursday. On Friday lessons begin at 09:00 and finish at 11:45. There are two 15 minute breaks a day plus a lunch break of 75 minutes. On Friday there is one 15 minute break. In other words, there are 22.5 x 60-minute hours of taught lessons per week plus 2.5 hours of guided research, self-access and project work on Friday afternoons.

There are no lessons on public holidays.

The taught lessons will be supplemented by homework and weekend assignments, which will add a minimum of 14 study hours to the weekly programme.

  • Will I have to write assignments in English?


  • Can I use a translator (e.g. Google Translate, Baidu) to help me write my work?

Generally, no. We do not accept work written in another language and then translated into English. However, use of translators and electronic dictionaries may be acceptable for translating single words in some cases.

  • Do I have to take an exam?

There is an end of course exam to test your knowledge of the course, and you will have small tests throughout the course. You will also have assessed presentations. However, there is no assessed examination in the course. Most of the work you do will be coursework such as assignments and projects.

  • How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed on written assignments (essays), research projects and presentations. How many you do will depend on your course length.

  • How long are the pre-sessional presentations?

15 minutes

  • How many words are the research projects?
      • Project 1 is 1500 words
      • Project 2 is 2000 words
  • Will I work alone or in groups?

Some work will be done in groups (e.g. Project 1) and some work will be done alone (e.g. Assignments and Project 2)

  • Do I have to pass all the work?

Yes. However, if you fail a piece of assessed work (this is common) you will get feedback from your teacher and you can do it again until you pass.

  • Will I have homework?

Yes, you will have about two hours of homework every day.

  • Do I have to do work which is not assessed?

Yes. We want to help you to improve and achieve the score you need so we will set you a range of different tasks to help you to practice different skills. In order to pass the PSE course you must do ALL work your teachers set.

  • How many people will be in my class?

There is a maximum of 12 students in any class.

  • Will I study with other students who are going to do the same degree programme as me?

You will be in a group with other students who are doing a similar level of degree programme: If you are going to do an undergraduate course (a Foundation or Bachelor’s degree) you will study with other students also planning to do an undergraduate course. If you are going to do a postgraduate course (pre-Masters, Masters or PhD), you will study with other students also planning to do a postgraduate course. Students in your group will probably be planning to study a range of different subjects though.

  • What are the aims of the course?

The course aims to:

      • Develop the language and study skills you will need to succeed at a British university.
      • Increase your ability to work independently and to take responsibility for your own learning.
      • Develop your understanding of the academic culture of UK universities.
      • Help you to adapt to living and studying in the UK.
  • Will I need to take my IELTS again at the end of the course?

No. If you pass the course you will not have to take the IELTS exam again.

Finishing the LSI/IH Portsmouth University preparation course

  • What will happen at the end of the course?

At the end of the course, if you pass, you will receive a certificate and report. Then, LSI/IH Portsmouth will contact your university, and your university will send you an unconditional offer. When you receive this, you can begin your university course!

  • What happens if I fail the course?

If you fail the course, you will be given a letter of termination and you will not be able to progress directly to university.

  • What are my options if I fail the course?

In some cases, it may be possible to take the course again. Or you could apply for a different course with lower requirements, or you could take the IELTS exam again.

  • Why do a few students fail the PSE course?

The most common reasons for failing the course are: poor attendance, not handing in work, plagiarising or getting their work written by another person.



"Hello Mandana (my favorite tutor), first of all, I want to thank you for everything, you and all the LSI/IH Portsmouth staff. Secondly, I would like to recommend to other students who want to learn English or who wish to join university, to join the pre-sessional course at LSI/IH Portsmouth, it is beneficial. It`s helped me a lot."

Anas Almershed from Kuwait