What are the entry requirements for STEP?

All candidates must have completed a first degree of good standing from an accredited university, equivalent to a British Bachelor’s degree. Proof of English language proficiency in the form of a valid IELTS Academic or other Academic Skills Test (Please see below for details on accepted tests, scores and subscores). Other requirements can be found here.

Will I have had to study for 16 years?

You will need to have completed a first degree of good standing from an accredited university, equivalent to a British Bachelor’s degree. This is usually a three of four year degree, but varies depending on country, institution and discipline.

How do I know if my degree is equivalent to a British Bachelor’s degree?

UK NARIC is the United Kingdom’s National Academic Recognition Information Centre and provides services for individuals and organisations to compare international qualifications against UK qualification framework levels. You can compare non-UK qualifications to the UK system by contacting the UK’s National Academic Recognition Information Centre (link is external) (NARIC). Please note, however, this may incur a cost to you. The IIS will only check degree equivalency once applications have been submitted and cannot confirm candidates’ qualifications are eligible prior to application.

I am graduating summer 2022, can I still apply for STEP? 

Yes, you can still apply, however we will require an interim transcript detailing all modules taken to date. If you are accepted, your offer of acceptance will be conditional upon successful completion of your degree and upon meeting the minimum grades set by the selection committee. If selected, your final official transcripts and/or certificates will need to be submitted.

Will I have to take a test to prove my competency in the English Language?

In accordance with UK visa rules, the IIS exempts candidates from the English language requirements if they are nationals of, or have completed undergraduate studies taught in, the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada (only if you are a national), Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia,   St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Please  note  if you are exempt from taking IELTS Academic due to the fact you have completed an undergraduate  or  postgraduate  degree  taught  in an English majority speaking country but are not a national of that that country, you also will need to meet the UCL requirement below. UCL rules state in order to be exempt from the IELTS Academic test or other Academic English Skills test, you must have  completed  your  undergraduate  or  postgraduate studies no later than the summer two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment (i.e. Summer 2020 for a 2022 enrolment) otherwise you will be required to take an Academic English Skills test. For further guidance please refer to the UCL website

Which English language test is valid?

Applicants must submit an IELTS Academic score with their application (any IELTS Academic test must have been taken no more than two years before the proposed start date of the programme being applied for). 

The  minimum  requirements  for  English  language proficiency are as follows: An overall band score of 7.0, or UCL equivalent, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component in an IELTS Academic test certificate. Applicants with the overall score of 6.5 (with a minimum 6.0 in each component), or the standard equivalent in the alternative English language tests listed, will be considered and, if selected, will be eligible to receive a conditional offer.  

Alternatively, applicants can submit scores from the following English language tests: TOEFL iBT with an overall score of 100  (*92) and a  minimum of 24/30  (*24/30)  for  Reading & Writing, and 20/30  (*20/30)  for Speaking & Listening, PTE Academic with an overall score of 69  (*62)  and a minimum of  (*59)  in Communicative Skills Papers, Cambridge English CAE/CPE with an overall score of 185  (*176) and a  minimum of 176  (*169)  in each sub-test and Trinity ISE III with a Merit (Standard) in all sub-tests.  

Conditional offer holders will be expected to retake IELTS Academic** (or IELTS Indicator) in April 2022 (support provided by the Academic Skills Support Team at the IIS) to upgrade their offers to direct entry (unconditional) by obtaining an overall band 7 with no less than 6.5 in all subscores. Those who do not achieve this at the retest will be required to attend and successfully complete an approved pre-sessional programme at UCL Institute of Education and demonstrate that they have reached an overall score of 7.0 before they are formally enrolled onto the STEP programme.

Click here for more information about entry requirements.

*    Scores in italics indicate the ‘standard level’ score with which candidates will be considered and, if selected, will be eligible to receive a conditional offer.  

** The IIS will reimburse candidates to do this twice.


I undertook a study abroad term/year or module abroad, do I still need to take the English language test?

Yes, you will still have to prove your English language proficiency. Completing a module/term or year does not exempt you from the English language requirement.


Do I need to submit my Academic English Skills certificate when I apply?

Yes. The IIS will not accept or consider your application for STEP unless you have provided an accepted Academic English Skills certificate prior to the deadline.


What if the name on my qualifications differs from my name on my passport?

The consistency of your name on all documentation is very important and it is imperative that your name is always spelled and written exactly the same on all formal documents which includes your passports, evidence of previous qualifications and Academic English Skills certificate. Should you have any discrepancies, you will need to provide an affidavit with your application. This affidavit should confirm all variations of your name are one of the same person.



Can my references be emailed to you?

You should provide details for referees as requested when you complete your application online. We will accept email references in the event than an applicant is unable to apply online and only if they come from the referee's professional or academic account. Any references received from personal email accounts will not be accepted. If sending an application by post, each referee is required to return the reference letter and reference form in a sealed envelope with his / her signature across the seal.



How do I apply?

Applications are submitted online via our new application portal, accessible on the STEP main page: You will be required to register your details and complete an online form, as well as upload the necessary documents. 

Postal applications are only accepted in very exceptional circumstances. Please email to discuss options.



What happens after I have submitted my application?

Once your application has been received you will receive an email confirming your submission.


How do you assess my application?

All complete applications, once received will be processed and assessed in a first and second review by the STEP Selection Committee. The role of the first and second reviews are to ascertain the suitability of an applicant in terms of experience, potential and professional commitment, and academic performance.

In this process due consideration will be given to:

  • your university degree
  • the grades achieved in individual units/components of your degree
  • your references
  • your personal statement
  • your teaching experience, both voluntary and professional

What happens if I am shortlisted?

If you are shortlisted:

  1. You will undertake a six week secondary teaching placement at a local Religious Education Centre (REC) where your teaching skills will be assessed by ITREB. ITREB will organise this with you between December and February.
  2. You will be invited to have a face to face interview with IIS faculty in collaboration with ITREB in your home context. You may need to travel to the location of your national ITREB.
  3. You will be required to take a timed qualifying essay, which will be invigilated by the IIS interviewer, concurrently with interviews.



When will I receive a final decision?

You will be informed as soon as a decision has been made. We aim to communicate all offers and decisions in early April.



What happens if my application is incomplete?

The online portal will not accept incomplete applications. Any incomplete postal applications will be rejected.



I have a complaint about the admissions process. Who do I contact?

If you have any complaints relating to the admissions process, please see our complaints policy on the IIS website. 



Where do students live while in London?

Students reside in the newly built accommodation in King’s Cross. Located minutes away from the King’s Cross Rail and Tube station, in the heart of London, the building has 198 bedrooms all designed to enhance students’ experience of living and studying. Designed by award winning Stanton Williams Architects, the building offers a number of amenities such a reception, reading rooms, communal kitchens, a gym, a roof terrace and a courtyard. The cost of living at the residence is covered by the students’ scholarship. You will be provided with a single room. The rooms are based in “Cluster Flats” with individual rooms, each with its own ensuite shower room. Each cluster has six to eight rooms, with a shared kitchen and living area. All students are required to live in this residence.



Does the scholarship cover living expenses during the academic programme in London as well as during the extended practical back home?

All STEP students receive a monthly stipend for the full two-year programme, the amount of which is in line with UKVI guidelines. During the Field Teaching Practice (FTP) in their home contexts, students will be paid a stipend based on the World Bank Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) model. This may be more or less than the normal monthly stipend payments.


How are classes organised during the academic phase in London? How many hours of class do I have per week?

Students spend approximately 15 hours per week in class for the MA, PGDip and other related lectures, seminars and tutorial sessions. The MA programme follows a lecture – seminar – tutorial model. The PGDip is a mixed mode course which includes online tasks as well as face-to-face teaching sessions. Additionally, students spend two to three days a week teaching at London mainstream schools and one day a week teaching religious education classes at RECs. Students are also expected to keep up with both their MA and PGDip assessments alongside their lectures, readings and class work.



What is a DBS check and why do I have to have one?

It is a statutory requirement of the Home Office, that any individual who will be teaching in a UK school or works with children or young people must be in receipt of a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure Certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS checks will be arranged by UCL Graduate Admissions team in line with the UK regulations.

Teaching practice places students in a ‘position of trust’, as set out in the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974. Students will need to supply a criminal record check (Police Report) from the relevant authorities in their home country, and from every other country in which they have previously spent 6 months or more. This document should contain details of any cautions, convictions, reprimands, warnings or bind overs recorded against the student’s name, or confirm that there are none. If this information is not in English, students will also need to supply an official certified translation of the document. This will need to be supplied to the UCL Graduate admissions team.

Failure to submit a satisfactory criminal record check will jeopardise a student’s teaching practice, if their clearance remains outstanding at the time of enrolment.


For more information please see this UCL guidance document on DBS checks and review UCL policies here.

Can I apply to both STEP and GPISH?

Yes. However, each programme has distinct aims. Therefore, you are encouraged to think very carefully before applying about how either programme would meet your academic and career goals. In reviewing your application(s), the respective selection committees will be looking for your ability to make a strong case for your decision to apply to a particular programme.

Can I bring my spouse/dependants with me when I study in London?

We recognise that most of our students are recruited from outside of the United Kingdom and may want to invite dependants to live with them in the UK at some point during their study.

It is important that you understand that while you are now legally allowed to bring your dependants to the UK, the IIS cannot provide any support for dependants’ visa applications or accommodation at Victoria Halls for your spouse / family. Travel, housing and any other costs for any dependant coming to the UK will be the sole responsibility of the student for the entire duration of their stay.

Should you wish to bring your dependants to the UK, please bear in mind that your housing contract at Victoria Halls cannot be terminated before 31st August 2022 and therefore you would not receive an alternative housing stipend until after this date should you choose to move out.

For more information, please refer to the UKVI’s website.