English Language Requirements

All applicants, whether domestic or international, for admission to any UNSW program delivered either in Australia or overseas, must provide evidence that their English language ability meets the minimum requirements for admission.

Being born in Australia or other English-speaking country doesn't automatically pass you for English proficiency. You will be deemed to have satisfied the English language requirements if you can provide evidence that you meet one or more of the following criteria:

English Language Tests and University English Preparation Courses

UNSW recognises a number of English Language tests and English Preparation Courses which can be undertaken to meet the University’s English language requirements. These are set out in the following table, together with the minimum results required.

The test or English course must have been undertaken no more than two years prior to the commencement of the program at UNSW. Your English test must be dated on or after 1 January (two years prior) for Semester One commencement or 1 June (two years prior) for Semester Two commencement.

Applicable to which program/sIELTS Academic version onlyTOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT)TOEFL Paper-based Test  (PBT)Pearson Test of English (PTE) AcademicUNSW Institute of Languages University English Entry Course (UEEC)Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)ANU College Access Program
All programs except where specified below6.5 overall (min. 6.0 in each subtest)90 overall (min.23 in writing, 22 in reading, listening and speaking)

577 overall (min. 5.0 in TWE)

64 overall (min. 54 in each subtest)Successful completion with a minimum overall grade of C+ and a minimum grade of C in the writing component.

Dec 2014 session & earlier:

Successful completion with a minimum of 70% overall.

C Grade

C1 Grade

Jan 2015 session & onwards:

176 overall (min.169 in each subtest)

180 overall (min.180 in each subtest)

Master of Teaching (Secondary)

7.5 overall (min. 8.0 speaking and listening, min. 7.0 reading and writing)Not Accepted
Master of Psychology (Clinical, Forensic & Organisational) including combined PhD/Master7.0 overall (min. 7.0 in each subtest)94 overall (min.27 in writing, 24 in reading and listening, 23 in speaking)Not Accepted65 overall (min. 65 in each subtest)Not AcceptedNot AcceptedNot AcceptedNot Accepted

Prior study 4

Senior Secondary Studies

If you have successfully completed an assessable Senior Secondary qualification from an English-speaking country1 you do not have to prove proficiency in English provided the qualification was:

  • taught and examined in English 
  • completed no more than two years prior to the commencement of the program at UNSW

Post Secondary or Tertiary Studies

If you have successfully completed at least one year of full-time study in an assessable qualification at a recognised university or other post-secondary institution where the sole language of instruction and assessment was English, you may not be required to undertake a language test if you can provide a statement or certificate issued by the Registrar (or equivalent) of that institution confirming this. 

  • The statement or certificate must be on official headed paper, and must be the original document.
  • The study must have been completed no more than two years prior to the commencement of the program at UNSW.

Alternatively, if your studies were undertaken more than two years prior to the commencement of the program at UNSW you may meet UNSW's English Language Proficiency requirements provided

  • you have satisfactorily completed a degree or other assessable post-secondary qualification of a minimum duration of three full-time years (or equivalent) at an institution where the sole language of instruction and assessment was English, and
  • you have resided in Australia or other predominately English-speaking country1 since graduation. You will need to provide proof of residency with your application for admission.

Other Qualifications 4

In addition to the English Tests and University English Preparation Courses and Prior Study outlined above, UNSW also accepts a number of assessable academic qualifications as meeting the English language requirements. These qualifications, together with the minimum results required, are listed in the table below.

All qualifications must have been undertaken no more than two years prior to the year of commencement of study at UNSW except for qualifications from Denmark, Sweden or Norway, which must be undertaken no more than four years prior to the year of commencement of study at UNSW.

QualificationMinimum Requirement
UNSW Foundation StudiesC+ in Academic English

Please note that the English language entry requirements are higher for the following programs:

Education, Psychology (B+)

Law, Medicine, Optometry, Psychological Science (B)

University Preparation Program (UPP) & UNSW Preparation Program (UNSW Prep) 

Successful completion of the program
Foundation Program from an Australian Group of Eight (Go8) University

Grade C+ or 70% in English

Please note that the English language entry requirements are higher for the following programs:

Education, Psychology (B+ or 85%)

Law, Medicine, Optometry, Psychological Science (B or 80%)

Australian TAFE / Private Provider StudiesCompleted AQF Diploma or completed AQF Advanced Diploma
Danish Studentereksamen or Higher Preparatory ExaminationGrade 7 in English in the final year (English B or English A)
All India Senior School Certificate - [CBSE]Grade of C1 in English Core
Indian School Certificate - [ICSE]70% in English
Norwegian Certificate of Upper Secondary EducationGrade 4 in the First Year of Upper Secondary English (if this is the only completed English subject); or average grade of 4 in all completed Upper Secondary English subjects
Swedish Secondary School Leaving CertificateGrade D in English in the final year (English 6/English Course B)
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)Level 4 in English Language
United Kingdom GCE A Levels

C grade in a Humanities* AS/A2 subject or C grade in the General Paper

Singapore - Cambridge GCE A Levels

C grade in a Humanities* Higher 1 (H1) or Higher 2 (H2) subject or C grade in the General Paper

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

Grade 4 or above in one of the following IB English courses:

English A: language and literature at standard or higher level; or

English A: literature at standard or higher level; or

English B at higher level

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM)C pass in 920 English

 *Humanities - an Arts or Social Science subject that is conducted in English and requires substantial reading, as well as essay writing, in written examinations. Humanities subjects: Ancient History/Classical studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Citizenship Studies, Communication Studies, Creative Writing, Critical and Contextual Studies, Drama and Theatre, Economics, English (English Language/English Literature), Film Studies, General Studies, Global Perspectives and Research, Government and Politics, History, History of Art, Humanities, Journalism, Law, Media Studies (Media is not a humanities subject), Philosophy, Religious Studies, Social Policies, Sociology, World Development.

English Waivers 4

If you are not able to demonstrate that you meet one or more of the criteria above, but believe that your English language proficiency is of a comparable level, you can apply in writing to the respective Admissions Office (see contact details below) for consideration of a waiver. You will be required to justify the request and provide evidence that you meet a combination of two or more of the conditions outlined below:

1. English Language Test scores and University English Courses

Between 2 and 5 years ago

You must meet the minimum requirements as outlined above in English Language Tests and University English Courses.

Within the last 2 years

IELTS (Academic) - 6.0 overall (min. 5.5 in each subtest), TOEFL (iBT) - 79 overall (min. 21 in writing), TOEFL (PBT) - 213 overall (min. 4.5 in TWE), PTE (Academic) - 50 overall (min. 42 in each subtest), UEEC - grade C (min. C- in writing), CAE - 169 overall (min. 162 in each subtest)

2. Directly relevant work experience for at least the last 2 years

You must have participated in directly relevant work experience (or equivalent discipline practice) using English. This indicates that you have been immersed in the language conventions, vocabulary and practices of the discipline, which are not tested by the English language proficiency tests listed in the table above, but should serve as appropriate preparation if admitted to study at UNSW.

You will be required to submit a letter from your employer on company letterhead, which states:

    • The position title
    • The duties undertaken
    • The level of English spoken i.e. how was English used (written, verbal etc) and to what level was English used

3. Successful prior study for minimum of one year full-time completed between 2 and 5 years ago

You must have successfully completed at least one year of full-time study in an assessable qualification at a university or other post-secondary educational institution where the sole language of instruction and assessment was English and provide a statement or certificate issued by the institution's Registrar (or equivalent) confirming this. The statement or certificate must be on official headed paper.

4. Residency in an English-speaking country for at least 5 years

You must be able to provide evidence that they have lived in Australia, or other predominantly English-speaking country1, for a period of 5 years or more, immediately prior to the commencement of your studies at UNSW. During residency, you should have been involved in activities that exercise English language skills including both general and academic proficiency (such as community involvement etc) and you will need to provide references showing how these skills were developed. You will also need to provide copies of passports and/or visas to prove duration of residency.

5. NAATI accredited Professional Interpreter or Professional Translator (formerly known as Level 3 accredited)

You must be able to provide evidence that you have current valid National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) accreditation as a Professional Interpreter or Professional Translator.

6. A structured interview (research applicants only)

An official record of a structured and formal interview that was conducted during the application process to UNSW may be considered for some applicants for admission to research degrees.

The procedure for granting waivers of the English language proficiency requirements will require the Program Authority to justify the waiver in writing, and approval from the Faculty’s Dean or nominee. The Director, Student Services and Systems or Director, Graduate Research School, or his/her nominee, will consider each recommendation on the grounds of equity and, if appropriate, ESOS compliance.

When waiver recommendations include a requirement to undertake English language improvement or support, the Program Authority is responsible for costs associated with this improvement or support, whether this is provided by the Learning Centre, UNSWIL, or the Faculty’s own program. 

Conditional Offers 2, 3

If you provide an English test result that doesn't meet the minimum standard required by the University, or you don't provide any evidence of English language proficiency, you will be assessed for eligibility for admission and if successful will be issued with a Conditional Offer of admission. A full Offer of admission will be issued only when English language proficiency requirements have been met.

Conditional Package Offers 4

International applicants only

A Conditional Package offer may be issued to international applicants who have met the academic entry requirement for admission, but whose IELTS does not meet the English language proficiency requirement. If you have achieved a minimum Academic IELTS overall score of 5.0, you may be considered for a Conditional Package Offer.

NOTE: Package offers for applicants holding a TOEFL test may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The package offer is valid for the UNSW Institute of Languages University English Entry Course (UEEC) only and is subject to acceptance by the UNSW Institute of Languages. A package offer enables applicants to apply for a student visa for the duration of both the English language program and the UNSW studies.

Please note that due to quota restrictions, package offers may not be available for all programs each semester or may require a higher minimum IELTS overall score.

Visa Requirements for International Applicants

Regardless of UNSW’s English Language requirements, international applicants should be aware that they must still satisfy the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) English language requirements for visa applications. Students who are not eligible for streamlined visa processing arrangements [DIBP classification] must present 'a specified English language test' in order to be granted a student visa for university level study.

Details of the DIBP requirements, streamlined visa processing arrangements and the Assessment level of countries can be found at www.immi.gov.au/students/

This policy is effective for entry to UNSW programs from Semester 2, 2016 onwards.

American Samoa, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Canada, Fiji, Gibraltar, Ghana, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland), United States of America, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

2 Not available to domestic Undergraduate applicants.

Not available to Postgraduate coursework programs offered via UAC.

4 Not available for admission to the Master of Psychology (including combined PhD/Master) or Master of Teaching (Secondary).

Further Information

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Coursework Programs

Contact: UNSW Admissions Office
Tel: +61 (2) 9385 3656 (multiple lines)
Submit an enquiry

Postgraduate Research Programs

Contact: UNSW Graduate Research School
Tel: +61 (2) 9385 5500/5502
Email: enquiries.grs@unsw.edu.au 

Test centres

Test centres for IELTS

IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication. It is the preferred test of English for students intending to study in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and covers the four language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking.

IELTS Academic Module is recognised widely as a language requirement for entry to all courses in further and higher education and assesses whether a candidate is ready to study or train in the medium of English at an undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Click here to find an IELTS Centre near you.

UNSW Institute of Languages is an approved IELTS testing centre.

UNSW Australia Test Centre
IELTS Administrator
UNSW Institute of Languages
223 Anzac Parade
Tel: +61 (2) 9385 6729 
Submit an Enquiry 

Test centres for TOEFL

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a test that measures the ability of candidates to understand and use English to the level that is required in a university setting. You can take the Internet-based Test (iBT) or the Paper-based Test (PBT), depending on which format is offered at your test centre. You can get further information by visiting the website www.toefl.com 

UNSW Institute of Languages (UNSWIL)

The UNSW Institute of Languages (UNSWIL) offers comprehensive general and academic English language preparation programs. Academic English courses enable a smooth transition to successful university study. These programs cater for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The Institute provides the University English Entry Course (UEEC) .

University English Entry Course (UEEC)
Tel: +61 (2) 9385 5396
Submit an Enquiry