Degrees and courses for international students
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English skills

A reasonable standard of written and spoken English is required to study with The Open University, but formal language qualifications aren’t necessary.

Generally, your English simply needs to be sufficient to:

  • use study materials, including books, video and audio, and
  • communicate effectively with your fellow students, your tutor and other Open University staff.

When you apply to study with us, you'll need to confirm that you’re competent in the use of English. You’ll need to be to an IELTS standard of at least 5.5 (although some qualifications will vary - see courses pages for specific requirements). 


As an undergraduate, you’ll be expected to read and understand the language of your study materials, use these sources to express your thoughts and opinions, and write essays or reports for assignments and exams. You’ll also need to be able to follow what other say, and take an active part in tutorials, group discussions and forums, which may be spoken or written.


As a postgraduate, you’ll be expected to be able to read and understand a variety of academic texts, use these sources to express your thoughts and opinions and, depending on the level of qualification for which you’re aiming, write extended essays, reports or a dissertation (for a Masters degree), make presentations, write a thesis and discuss your research in an oral examination (for a PhD qualification).

If you’re unsure about your proficiency in the English language, you’ll be able to take a free English test as part of The Open University registration process.

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