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Frequently asked questions

We have collated a number of questions that we are often asked by prospective students, which you may find helpful.

Study methods

How long will it take to complete the programme?

Students registered on our programmes are able to study at their own pace. We divide each year into five eight-week study sessions and you can enrol on one module per session. The four-module Postgraduate Diplomas can be completed in a minimum of one year, and the eight-module Master's programmes take a minimum of two years to complete.

However, you are not required to take a module in every session. Registration on these programmes will last for a maximum of five years. Therefore, if you are unable to commit sufficient time to your studies during any one session, or if you would just like a break, you can choose not to enrol on a module during that session. Registration on the Individual Professional Award programme lasts for two years.

How many hours a week will I need to study?

We estimate that you will need to dedicate at least 15 to 20 hours per week to your studies in order to successfully complete one of our modules.

How will I be taught?

Our modules are taught exclusively through distance learning. For each module studied, you are assigned an academic tutor. At the start of each module, you will be sent all of the learning materials that you will require to study for the module. You will also be given access to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Through this, you will be able to enter into discussions with your fellow students as well as ask questions of your academic module tutor. The written assignments for each module are submitted electronically through the VLE, and the examinations can be sat locally at one of the University of London's exam centres .

Our dedicated Student Support team are able to advise you on any non-academic issues that you may have with your studies.

What equipment do I need?
Hardware – Windows PC or MacOS

For some modules you will require a CD drive and DVD player. Also, please note that econometric software EViews is now compatible with MacOS/Mac OS X as well as Windows PCs.

Operating systems and browser compatibility

The VLE is accessed via a web browser and is compatible with all modern browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.

There are no specific operating system requirements for using the VLE. However, for students studying the econometrics modules, the EViews software requires Windows Vista (or later) or Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (or later).

Will I need to buy any books? If so, can I have a reading list?

Everything you need for the successful completion of your programme is included in the study pack for each module which will be sent to you via DHL when you enrol on a module. Your study pack includes a binder divided into eight units and aims to introduce you to the key concepts and issues covered within the module as well as direct you to wider readings on the subject. All of the textbooks, journal articles, etc. referred to in this text are also provided for you either electronically or within the study pack.

Can I see an example of the module material?

At the foot of each of the programme pages on our website, you will see links to all of the individual modules that make up each programme. These module pages offer detailed descriptions of the module content, aims and objectives and study resources. At the end of each module page you will also find a sample of the module text in PDF form, which can be useful in helping you obtain a fuller idea of what you can expect from each module.

I would like to speak to the Academic Director about the content of the modules. Am I able to do this?

If you have any questions regarding the academic content of the modules, please send these to cefimsadmin@soas.ac.uk. The Student Support team should be able to put you in contact with an appropriate Academic Director or provide you with suitable answers to your questions.


How do I apply?

Applications for our programmes can be made by completing and submitting the online application form. If you are offered a place on one of our programmes, you will need to provide us with sufficient supporting documentation to confirm the information that you listed in your application with regard to your identity and academic record.

To make an application, or to find out more about fees and our admissions procedure, please visit our Apply page.

Where do I send my supporting documentation? Can I fax/email these to you?

Your supporting documentation should be sent by post/courier to the following address:

Centre for Financial and Management Studies
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street
United Kingdom

It is necessary for copies of academic documentation to bear the original stamp and signature of a British Council or British Embassy official in order to certify that it is a true copy of the original document. Consequently, we cannot accept copies of these sent by fax or email. However, it is acceptable for you to email or fax a copy of your identification document to us.

My transcripts are not in English. Will I need to get them translated?

If your academic transcripts/certificates are written in a language other than English, you will need to send a certified translation of these documents, made by a professional translation agency, together with the original documents issued by the university (or certified copies of the same).

I do not have access to my transcripts where I am currently residing. Can I just send them through to you at a later date?

We are not able to accept any applicant onto one of our programmes until we have received sufficient documentation to confirm the applicant's academic record, as stated on their application form. If you do not have access to your original transcripts, it is in most instances possible for applicants to request their former universities to send copies of these to us directly.

English is not my first language; can I still apply?

For all of our modules you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability. You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed any of the following within the past three years:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System (Academic) with an overall score of 7.0 or above, including a minimum of 7.0 on the written sub-test
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) with an overall score of 67 or above, including a minimum of 67 attained on each of the reading, writing, speaking and listening elements
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English with an overall score of 185 or above, including a minimum of 185 attained on each of the reading, writing, speaking and listening sub-tests
  • (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language with an overall score of 95 or above, including a minimum of 24 attained on the reading and writing skills sub-tests and a minimum of 25 attained on the speaking sub-test and 22 attained on the listening sub-test.

Where an applicant does not meet the required English language level but believes they can demonstrate the required level for admission the University may, at its discretion, consider the application.

What qualifications do I need to get on the programmes?

Each application for one of our programmes will be considered in its entirety and on its own merits by the Programme Director, who will take into account the balance of your academic and professional experience, as well as your personal motivations and commitment to a prolonged course of study through distance learning, before making a decision. Details of typical entry requirements can be found on each programme page. Strong applicants that do not quite meet our entry requirements may be asked to take one or two modules from the programme as Individual Professional Awards before upgrading to the full programme. After upgrading, any grades obtained as an IPA student would be retroactively accredited to the new programme.

I applied for the MSc but have been offered Individual Professional Awards instead. Why is this?

Demand for our programmes is very high and, consequently, our entry requirements are necessarily strict. Strong applicants who do not quite meet these entrance criteria may be invited by the Programme Director to take up to three modules from the MSc programme as stand-alone Individual Professional Awards as an entry route to the full programme.

Once you have successfully completed the three relevant IPAs, you will have the opportunity to upgrade onto the MSc programme. The modules taken as IPAs can be retroactively credited to this programme. To graduate with the MSc qualification you would just need to take the remaining five modules. There is no additional cost in terms of time, effort, or expense in pursuing the IPA path to the MSc.

I see from your website that you have modules starting next week. I have not applied yet but I can pay the module fee straight away. Can I start?

Application deadlines are published on our website. Applications received after this date will be automatically considered for the next available entry point.

I have received an offer for one programme but I now think that another programme you offer is closer to what I'm looking for. Will I need to fill in a new application form?

Your application for this new programme can be considered on the basis of your original application. Please email cefimsadmin@soas.ac.uk specifying your new preference. As your original personal statement would have been geared towards your initial choice of programme, you may also wish to include an updated personal statement in your email explaining why you are interested in the new programme and what you hope to get out of it. Your application will then be reviewed by the Programme Director for the new programme.

I have missed the enrolment deadline. Can I still start?

You must submit the online enrolment form and make payment of the relevant module fees by the published enrolment deadline in order to confirm your registration onto the programme. If you do not meet these deadlines it may be necessary for you to defer your enrolment until the next available entry.

Once I have successfully enrolled on a module, when can I expect to receive my study materials?

Module study packs are sent out via DHL during the month running up to the start of the study session in which the module is running. You will be sent an email by DHL to inform you that your materials are on their way. This email will include the Air Waybill number of your package, which you can use to track the shipment. Your Virtual Learning Environment login details will be emailed to you approximately three days before the start of the study session.

Fees and funding

How much does it cost?

A full breakdown of our fee structure and current fee levels for our programmes can be found on our fees page.

Is there any financial aid or scholarships that I can apply for?

Unfortunately, the University does not currently offer any scholarships or financial aid for students on our programmes and the opportunities for funding from third party sources tend to be very limited for distance learning students. However, we are always searching for new sources of funding and, if any do become available, these will be posted on our website. You may also wish to try the British Council to see if they can suggest anything. Alternatively, a large number of our students arrange to have some, or all, of their fees paid by their employer.

For further advice on gaining support from your employer please visit the Sponsorship section of this website.

Can I have a discount on the module fees?

If you are an ACCA member and are registered for any of our Public Policy and Management programmes you are entitled to a 5% discount on each of the module fees. In addition, we offer 10% discount to staff of the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) or members of the World Bank Staff Association who have previously provided confirmation of their employment status to the University. There are currently no other discounts on offer.

Do I have to pay for the programme up front or can I pay by monthly instalment?

Payment of the full cost of the programme is not required in advance. With our rolling enrolment scheme, you have the option to pay the fees for each successive module as you progress through the programme. Payment for each module must be received, in full, prior to the enrolment deadline for the session in which you wish to study.


I have an offer for January/June/November entry. Can you tell me exactly what date I will start my studies?

Each year is divided into five eight-week study sessions. It is entirely up to you in which of the sessions you choose to start your study. Each time you submit an enrolment form you will have the opportunity to enrol on modules for any, or all, of the remaining study sessions in that year. Details of the individual session dates and module availability can be found on each programme's study calendar which can be accessed via the relevant programme page.

I have already taken a number of modules in this field. Can I get an exemption?

Only modules taken as part of the programme for which you are registered can be used as credit towards that programme. We do not permit exemptions or accept transfer credits for any of our programmes.

When and where can I find out in what sessions modules are running next year?

Study Calendars for each programme are uploaded onto the Programmes area of the website a few weeks before enrolment opens for Session One at the beginning of October. The calendars indicate in which of the five study sessions modules will be available so that you can plan your study sequence for that year.

Can I take a module from outside my current programme?

You can only take modules that make up the programme you are currently registered for. If there are specific modules from other programmes that you are interested in studying, you can take up to three additional modules, but only after you have completed your degree.

I have submitted my enrolment form but have heard nothing since. What is the status of my enrolment?

During enrolment periods we receive a very large number of enrolment forms and it can take some time for all of these to be processed. We will send a confirmation email to you once your enrolment has been successfully processed. If there is a problem with your enrolment, we will contact you by email. If, after 10 working days from when you submitted your form, you have still not received an email, you should contact us to check on the status of your enrolment.

I have missed the payment deadline for enrolling in this session. What can I do?

Each enrolment period is open for four to six weeks. The session enrolment deadline is the latest date that we can accept new enrolment forms and payment of module fees. If you have missed the payment deadline, you will have to wait until the next session to take a module. You are advised to enrol early to avoid disappointment.

I require an invoice or my bank will not allow me to transfer money out of the country. How can I get one?

Contact your Administrator to request an invoice.

I have previously deferred a module and would now like to take it. How do I resume my study?

When you are ready to resume a module that you have previously deferred, complete and submit the enrolment form in the usual way. However, please indicate that it is a previously deferred module in the payment section. It is assumed that you already have the module materials. You will only be sent a replacement study pack if the module content has been revised during the intervening period. The new assignment questions will be available for you to download from the VLE when the module commences. If you have received a mark for either of the two assignments from when you previously took the module, this mark will stand. On resuming your studies, you will be required to complete the outstanding assignment.

I have successfully enrolled. When should I expect to receive my module materials and VLE login details?

Module study packs are sent out via DHL during the month running up to the start of the study session in which the module is running. You will be sent a pre-alert advisory email by DHL to inform you that your materials are on their way. This email will include the Air Waybill number of your package, which you can use to track the shipment. Your VLE login details will be emailed to you approximately three days before the start of the session.

Can I get a refund if I no longer want to study the module?

If you change your mind and want to cancel your enrolment on a module, it is possible to claim a refund within a limited time.

To be eligible for a refund you must have formally advised the administrators of your intention to discontinue study and the reason for this no later than 14 days after the start of the study session. You must also have returned all the elements of the study materials we sent you (such as text books, binder etc) in a reusable condition no later than 14 days after the start of the study session. Please note that refunds will not include the delivery cost for you returning any study materials to us.

You will not be eligible for refund if you request a cancellation more than 14 days after receiving the study materials.

Can I change modules once I have started?

Once you have received the study pack for the module you have enrolled on, you are committed to completing that module as part of the programme.


How are each of the modules assessed?

For each module (with the exception of the dissertation) you are required to submit two assignments on specified dates and sit a three hour unseen examination held on a specific date during September/October. Each assignment is worth 15% of your module mark and the examination is worth 70%.

When and where are the exams held?

All module examinations take place once a year during the October exam period. The University of London maintains an extensive worldwide network of local exam centres, so it would usually be possible for you to sit the examinations for your modules at a location that is convenient to you. Further information on exam centres can be found on the Examinations section of this website.

Will I have to write a dissertation?

The option to write a dissertation is not mandatory for our MSc programmes. If you decide that you do wish to take up this option, the dissertation will count as one of your module choices for the programme. Before we can consider your proposal to submit a dissertation, we will need to review your academic performance so far. Completion of the module Research Methods (C353) is a prerequisite for writing a dissertation.

Awards and accreditation

Is an online degree of the same quality as a full-time degree? What information will appear on my certificate? Will it say that I studied the programme by distance learning?

Following the successful completion of the assessment requirements for one of our programmes, you will be awarded a University of London Master of Science/Postgraduate Diploma; exactly the same as if you had studied on-campus. On the degree certificate will be the University of London crest and, below this, it will state "[your name] having registered with the University of London on a programme under the academic direction of SOAS and having passed the approved examinations, has this day been admitted by the University of London to the degree of [your subject]."

Do your programmes have international accreditation?

Each higher education institution in the UK is autonomous and responsible for maintaining its own high standards of education. The University of London and its lead colleges regularly monitor and review their programmes to ensure that standards are being maintained. The University of London was established by Royal Charter in 1836 and was incorporated by Royal Charter granted in 1863, through which it has full degree awarding powers at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Since 1858, the University has made its degrees and other awards available to distance learning students through its International Programmes. The University is governed by the University of London Act 1994 and the Statutes made under it, including Statute 66(2), which states that:

Candidates granted degrees and other awards shall have attained the same academic standard irrespective of mode or place of study or examination.

Awards of the University of London are recognised throughout the world.

Can I take the Postgraduate Diploma and then continue onto the MSc?

If you successfully complete the assessment requirements for one of our Postgraduate Diplomas you will be invited, at the discretion of the Board of Examiners, to reject the award of the diploma and upgrade your registration to the related MSc programme. Following this upgrade, the modules taken as part of the diploma will be retroactively credited to the new programme. Please note that credit for modules cannot be shared across multiple awards. Therefore, if you were to accept the award of the Postgraduate Diploma, you would not be permitted to register for any further related qualifications at a later date.

I have noticed that some of the modules on the programme I am interested in appear in another programme. After I have completed my programme can I take another two modules and also be awarded a degree in the other programme?

Credit for modules cannot be shared across multiple programmes. Once you have graduated with one of our awards, you cannot use any of the same module credits to be awarded another degree.

If there are specific modules from outside of your programme that you are interested in studying, you do have the option to take up to three additional modules following the completion of your degree. For each additional module that you successfully complete, you will be awarded an Individual Professional Award certificate.

Terms of study

Where can I find the terms and conditions governing my studies?

You can find information about the University of London's terms and conditions , programmme regulations and complaints procedures on the University of London's International Programmes website.

How can I make a complaint?

You can find information about the University of London's complaints procedures on the University of London's International Programmes website.

Still have a question?
If you still require help or have further questions please contact us on +44 (0)20 7898 4050 or at cefimsadmin@soas.ac.uk.