International College
Student pathways to The University of Sheffield

How can I study abroad in the UK?

Posted 21 September 2015
Science study abroad Sheffield

More than 450,000 international students come to Britain every year. Why do so many study in the UK? 

A welcoming student culture, home to some of the best universities in the world, globally-recognised qualifications, and the chance to hugely improve your English language skills – there are plenty of reasons why the UK is the second most popular study location in the world.

So if you want to study in the UK, how do you go about it? 

First you need to ask yourself:

What do I want to study abroad?

Undergraduate degree

Entry requirements for UK university undergraduate degrees vary from university to university and from subject to subject. They will typically require good high school grades, or equivalent, in subjects related to your chosen degree. There are extra English language requirements for international students too, usually requiring you to meet a certain level of IELTS score, or Pearson Test of English equivalent.

You can often check specific requirements for the course that interests you on the university’s website. If you can’t find the information you need you should get in touch with the university’s admissions department, and they’ll be able to help.

International Foundation Year

If you don’t have the right level of academic or English language skills to enter straight into a UK university degree programme, an International Foundation Year provides a study path to help you. An International Foundation Year is an intensive two- to three-term course at The University of Sheffield International School. It ensures that your English language and academic skills are brought up to the level required to gain entry into a UK degree programme.

Entry requirements for the International Foundation Year

  • Good high school graduation grades, or equivalent
  • For the three-term programme – IELTS 5.0 (minimum 4.0 in all skills), or Pearson Test of English or equivalent
  • For the two-term programme – IELTS 6.0 (minimum 5.0 in all skills), or Pearson Test of English or equivalent


Postgraduate degrees are available to those who already hold a recognised degree qualification or equivalent. For some subjects, this degree has to be in a related field to your chosen Masters subject. Entry requirements for postgraduate Masters degrees also vary, depending on the university and subject chosen. Universities will look at your academic grades, experience, and your level of English language learning too.

Again, entry requirements for international students should be available to view on the university website, and you can get in touch with the admissions department to find out any information you need to know.


Whether you don’t meet the requirements for direct entry to a Masters degree, or you just want to refresh your knowledge or language skills before your Masters course begins, a Pre-Masters course is specially designed for you.

It’s a two- or three-term intensive course that gives you two study routes to choose from: Business, Law and Social Sciences; and Science and Engineering.

Entry requirements for the Pre-Masters course

  • Recognised degree, which must be in a related field for some subjects
  • For the three-term programme – IELTS 5.5 (minimum 5.5 in all skills), or Pearson Test of English or equivalent
  • For the two-term programme – IELTS 6.0 (minimum 5.5 in all skills), or Pearson Test of English or equivalent

Extra language help

If your academic grades meet the requirements for an International Foundation Year or pre-masters course, but your English language skills don’t, you can bring them up to the required level with a specialised language course. The University of Sheffield International College offers:

English Language Preparation (ELP) – for entry into International Foundation Year

English for Pre-Masters (EPM) – for entry into Pre-Masters courses

Both English language courses are designed to finish in time for you to join the next September start date for your Pre-Masters or International Foundation Year programme.

Visa requirements

As well as meeting academic and language requirements, you may also need a relevant visa in order to study in the UK. Check out this online test on the UK government website to find out more.