The European Education Directory

Pre-Masters courses:
Preparing you for postgraduate study

By Debbie Smythe
Pre-Master’s Co-ordinator
Oxford Brookes University


Master’s courses in the UK are only one year in length, so it is important that you are fully prepared for your studies at the start of your course. If you have completed your undergraduate studies in your own country and are thinking of taking a postgraduate degree in the UK, then a pre-master’s programme might be the bridge you need to studying at the higher postgraduate level.

Who should take a pre-master’s?

You will need to take a pre-master’s course if:
  • Your undergraduate qualifications are not at the required level
  • You wish to take a master’s in a different subject to the one you have studied previously.
  • You need to improve your study skills and use of academic English
Pre-Master’s courses are designed to improve both your English language skills and your academic knowledge. If you only need to improve your language skills then a shorter Academic English or Pre-Sessional course may be more suitable. The admissions staff of your chosen master’s course will be able to advise you on whether your academic qualifications are suitable.

How long will the course last?

Pre-Masters courses are a range of lengths, usually between one term and a whole academic year. At Oxford Brookes the two semester Pre-Master’s Diploma can be taken during the usual academic year from September to May, or you can start in January and continue through the summer until August. If you have a higher English language level, you could take the one semester Certificate starting in January or June.

What will the course cover?

On a pre-master’s course you will learn the English language and study skills you will need to study successfully at a postgraduate level in an English-speaking university. This will include:
Academic reading to improve your ability to understand academic texts such as reports, journal articles and books; and to develop your research skills.
Academic writing to improve your writing of reports, essays and dissertations.
Listening and speaking for academic purposes such as presentation skills and listening to lectures, as well as discussion and debating techniques in seminars.

You will also cover the academic subject you are intending to study in your master’s to give you the foundation for studying the subject at the postgraduate level. Some pre-master’s specialise in one area such as business or politics. Others will allow you the flexibility to specialise in a subject of your choice such as any subject that the university teaches at an undergraduate level.

After the pre-master’s

Most students will continue a master’s course at the same university, and some institutions will guarantee you a place on a master’s course provided you pass the pre-master’s satisfactorily. They can be qualifications in their own right so may also be used for entry to postgraduate courses at other universities.

If you would like to know more about Pre-Master’s courses at Oxford Brookes University, you can look at our website (, email us on or you can telephone us on +44 (0) 1865 483874.


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