STEP Entry Requirements

To be eligible for the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) you must meet the following criteria:

  • A UK 1st or 2nd Class Degree or recognised equivalent.
  • 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. 

    * 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.

  • 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.

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

  • Minimum of one year’s experience teaching in a Religious Education Centre that falls under the ITREB jurisdiction of any one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand, Bangladesh, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Far East, France, India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Portugal, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, United Kingdom or the United States of America.

  • To enter a contract-bound commitment of a minimum of 3 years to work as a teacher within the ITREB network, with opportunities for career progression within the wider Aga Khaninfo-icon network of institutions.

  • The Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) has been developed to support and promote the need for professionally trained secondary level teachers who can teach the IIS Secondary Curriculum within the Ismaili religious education system; therefore, candidates are recruited from the Ismaili community only.

Shortlisted applicants will be required to undertake a six week teaching placement at their local religious education centre (REC), which will be facilitated by the local ITREB. Applicants will also be required to undertake a timed essay, as well as participate in an interview which will be conducted by the IIS and ITREB.


Student Route Visa Requirements

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 2021 for a 2023 enrolment) otherwise you will be required to take an Academic English Skills test. For further guidance please refer to the UCL website.

Postgraduate Study Cap

The recent change from Tier IV visas to the Student Route means that there is no longer a cap on the amount of time a student spends studying at post- graduate level in the UK.

It is the applicants’ responsibility to provide authentic and verifiable evidence of qualifications. If you are found to have submitted fraudulent documents, your application will be automatically rejected.



STEP is a fully funded scholarship programme. Successful applicants receive housing in London, as well as a living allowance. Programme-related fees and travel costs are also covered. Students who wish to contribute towards their fees may make an unconditional donation to the IIS via the Aga Khan Foundation offices in their country of residence.


How to Apply

Details of how to apply for 2022 entry will be coming soon. 


For all other queries, please visit the STEP FAQs page, or contact





The Institute of Ismaili Studies is a registered charity. For our higher education teaching and learning provision, we are registered with the Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England, and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), the independent student complaints scheme for England and Wales.