More in this section Pre-Masters Diploma

Pre-Masters Diploma for International Students


The Pre-Masters Diploma for International Students (PDIS) prepares international students for postgraduate study in the UK.

This programme is suitable for international students who already have the equivalent of a good undergraduate degree or good grades in a three year diploma, but who need to improve their English language and academic skills for postgraduate study.

Successful students are awarded the Royal Holloway Pre-Masters Diploma and can seek admission for a postgraduate course at Royal Holloway or another UK university.

PDIS students have full university status, participating in courses taught in academic departments, and have access to all facilities and social activities on campus

Why this course? 

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Join a successful and long-established programme Since 1995, our Pre-Masters programme has enjoyed a record of success in preparing students for the English language and academic demands of postgraduate study at Royal Holloway and other top-ranking UK universities
Secure progression to a Masters course at Royal HollowayProvided that you achieve specified grades on the Pre-Masters programme and satisfy any other additional requirements, you are guaranteed progression to a number of popular Masters courses in Management and other subject areas offered by Royal Holloway
Immerse yourself in a unique study environment at a top UK universityYou are taught in one of the most beautiful campuses in the world at Royal Holloway, University of London which is ranked 27 by The Times Good University Guide (2013)
Benefit from expert teaching by Royal Holloway academicsYou will deepen your knowledge and understanding of your academic field by participating in an undergraduate course in an academic department at Royal Holloway and through researching and writing an Independent Research Project. Alongside lectures and seminars taught by Royal Holloway academic staff, you can expect regular tutorials with a subject specialist supervisor specially chosen for your Independent Research Project
Develop your English through an innovative teaching programme and personalised supportYou will develop your confidence and skills in academic English through an intensive, stimulating programme that makes use of the very latest English teaching methods.  In addition, weekly one hour one-to-one consultations with a Personal Tutor provide key support as you progress through the year
Students can apply to take the Royal Holloway Pre-Sessional English Language Programme before starting the Pre-Masters Diploma. 

Programme structure

The nine-month Pre-Masters Diploma for International Students (PDIS) prepares international students for postgraduate study at Royal Holloway and other UK universities. The programme curriculum focuses on the acquisition of academic English and graduate skills as well the development of knowledge and understanding of academic subjects to an appropriate standard for Masters level studies.

The programme comprises the following three components:

1. English language and academic skills (50% of the programme)

A main focus of the programme is to develop your English language and study skills in preparation for postgraduate study. You will learn how to: read academic texts efficiently and critically; follow lectures and note key points; structure essays into coherent arguments; write in a formal, academic style; take part in academic discussions and give presentations. In addition, attention is given to a range of essential skills in areas such as grammar, vocabulary development, pronunciation and, more broadly, understanding British academic culture.

2. Academic study in a Royal Holloway department (25% of the programme)

To prepare you for academic study at a postgraduate level, you will take an academic course unit (or two half-units) alongside British and other nationality undergraduates. Where possible, the academic course will be based in the department in which you wish to study your postgraduate degree. This immersion in an academic department offers an important first-hand experience of university study in a UK context which will give you a head-start when you commence your Masters course.

3. Independent Research Project (25% of the programme)

All UK postgraduate courses will require you to write a dissertation or research project. The PDIS helps prepare you for this through an 8,000-10,000 word Independent Research Project on a topic relevant to your chosen postgraduate programme. You will be introduced to research methods as well as other relevant skills through a special support course and regular one-to-one guidance provided by your Personal Tutor and a subject specialist supervisor in the chosen area.

What you'll learn

  On successful completion of this programme, you will be able to:

  • communicate confidently in English for a range of academic purposes including written work, oral discussion and presentations;
  • perform effectively  in  Masters level study in your chosen academic subject;
  • apply independent study habits and a critical thinking approach to your work;
  • research and structure a substantial piece of work such as a project or dissertation;
  • engage more fully with the academic community of a British university.


Assessment and Progression

You are assessed through a combination of written coursework, oral presentations, written exams, and the Independent Research Project. From 2014 onwards, IELTS is not required to enable progression from the PDIS to Masters courses at Royal Holloway.

Students who hold an offer for the Pre-Masters Diploma are eligible for automatic progression to the following Masters programmes, provided that they achieve the requisite grades during the Pre-Masters year and satisfy any additional requirements.

Progression tariffs are as follows:


Target postgraduate degree

Overall PDIS Average

PDIS English Language Score

School of Management

MSc Business Information Systems



MA Consumption, Culture and Marketing 



MSc Entrepreneurship



MSc International Accounting



MSc International Human Resource Management



*MSc International Management



MSc Management and Organisations 60%


MA Marketing



MBA 50%



MSc Information Security




Centre for Professional Studies

MSc Project Management 60%


MSc Supply Chain Management 60%


 *Please note that MSc International Management is a conversion degree, and is appropriate for students who do not hold a first degree in a Business or Management subject.  Students with such backgrounds, or who have two or more years' work experience, are encouraged to seek to specialise through one of the other Management options listed above.

Students who are interested in progressing to postgraduate study in the following departments may also be eligible for a guaranteed offer of progression to postgraduate study to Royal Holloway, subject to scrutiny of the application by the relevant department:

  • Drama and Theatre
  • Geography
  • History
  • Politics and International Relations

Other postgraduate programmes

Applications for postgraduate study for any programmes not listed above are welcome, and PDIS language scores will be accepted by Royal Holloway in place of IELTS scores or equivalent. Applications should be made through the Study Here pages. PDIS teaching staff will provide current students with every support in this process.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should usually have completed a first degree and obtained good grades. Applicants holding a three year diploma from certain countries, or applicants over the age of 24 with substantial work experience, are also encouraged to apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Required language

Following revisions to the regulations introduced by the UK Border Agency in January 2012, English language entry requirements are now as follows:

IELTS 5.5 with no sub-score below 5.5,


Pearson Test of English (PTE) 46 with no sub-score below 46




Applicants who have not reached the minimum entry requirement for English may wish to join the Pre-sessional English Language Programme (PELP) from mid-June in order to improve their English language skills before the PDIS begins. The minimum English language entry requirements for the PELP are:

12-week PELP
IELTS 4.5 with 4.5 in Writing and no other subscore lower than 4.0
PTE 38, with no sub-scores below 36

8-week PELP
IELTS 5.0 with 4.5 in Writing and no other subscore lower than 4.0
PTE 41 with Writing 38 and no other sub-score below 36

4-week PELP
IELTS 5.5 with 5.0 in Writing and no other subscore lower than 4.0
PTE 46 with Writing 41 and no other sub-score below 36


Tuition Fee

 The tuition fee for 2016 entry will be £11,650.

How to apply

Applications to the Pre-Masters Diploma can be made online.  Further information on applying can be found on the Study here pages.

Contact us

Interested in finding out more about the Pre-Masters Diploma?


Email Gerald Dampier




Tina Wang


Pre-Masters Diploma 2010-11 

MBA 2011-12

Qi Liu 

Qi Liu

Pre-Masters Diploma 2010-11

MSc International Accounting 2011-12

Miho Mitsuyama


Pre-Masters Diploma 2011-12

MA Marketing 2012-13

Marzieh Kordi 


Pre-Masters Diploma 2011-12

MSc Information Security 2012-13


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