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English Requirements for Bachelor’s Programmes

(With the exception of ICEF students, the joint Bachelor’s programme in International Relations with LSE, and the joint Bachelor’s programme with NES, which have a special English language programme)

The ability to read professional literature, communicate with future partners, write and study in English is one of the key competencies for HSE students.

Why do undergraduate students need English?

You are expected to complete at least 1 professional course in English per year as part of your Individual Curriculum for the 3rd and 4th years of study;

You need to refer to sources in a foreign language while preparing your thesis. In addition, each student shall prepare a project proposal and abstract in English for his/her thesis (in case the main text is written in Russian or another foreign language different from English). Project proposals are verified through HSE’s plagiarism detection system (Antiplagiat) and independently graded 2 months prior to the thesis defence;

As a part of your degree programme at HSE, you may also study in foreign universities (various formats ranging from 2-week academic mobility programmes to one-year internships);

You will need English to enter an English-language Master’s programme at HSE or a foreign university.

How and when does HSE check students’ knowledge of English?

The exam grade is counted towards the summer current rating of the 1st year of study and is worth 4 credits;

  • To take the external Independent English Language Test during the exam session of the 3rd module in the 2nd year of study. Please note that this examination is similar to the procedures established for international English certificate exams. The test procedure is governed by a separate document. No HSE English teacher participates in this test. The exam grade is included in the diploma supplement to the HSE Bachelor’s degree. The grade is also counted towards the summer current rating of the 2nd year of study and is worth 4 credits.

How do I study English while at HSE?

HSE’s English Language course is not included in the core part of undergraduate programmes. It is offered as an optional course in the 1st and 2nd years of study on top of the 240-credit threshold, which must be accumulated by every Bachelor’s student for all years of their study.

Both state-funded and fee-paying students can choose an optional English language course in addition to their core programme. There are no additional fees for taking this course.

If you include an optional English language course in your Individual Curriculum, you shall bear responsibility for mastering the entire curriculum. The course’s optional status does not mean that it’s not important, as all grades for this course are accounted for in the same way as grades for other courses included in your Individual Curriculum.

The “English Language” optional course shall begin in the 1st module of the 1st year of study and end in the 3rd module of the 2nd year of study. A standard course is worth 14 credits. A total of 8 credits shall be accumulated by students during their 1st year of study, while 6 credits are accumulated during the 2nd year. Students must attend classes 2 times per week. Classes can include up to 15 learners. You may view the course syllabus here.

If a student does not have a grade for English in his/her school certificate, they can take part in an intensive optional course (the curriculum is twice the size of a standard course) during the 1st year of study. Students who start studying English at HSE must accumulate 16 credits during their 1st year of study and attend classes 4 times per week in order to pass the HSE English test with other students at the end of the 1st year of study.

The course curriculum includes an examination during the winter period in the 1st and 2nd years of study. The grade assigned in the winter cumulative rating shall also be determined in the winter period. This grade will depend on the examination result, as well as on the cumulative grade for the 1st semester (based on ongoing assessment results – classwork, tests, written assignments, etc.). The calculation of grades is regulated by the course syllabus. The grades for the optional course obtained during the winter exam period are not considered in a student’s current rating.

There will be no separate exam for this optional course at the end of the 1st and 2nd years of study, as attending students must pass an obligatory English test (HSE’s test or the Independent English Language Test) with all other students.They shall be calculated as follows:

  • based on the results of the 1st year of study (60% - effective grades for modules 1-4, 40% - grade for exam taken at the end of the 2nd module);
  • based on the results of the 2nd year of study (60% - the cumulative grade for modules 1-3 of the 2nd year of study; 40% - grade for exam taken in the 2nd module). If the student so wishes, the same grade can be included in the Diploma Supplement in the “Optional Courses. The English Language” section.
If a student receives an “Unsatisfactory” grade during the winter exam period or if the final course grade is not “Satisfactory”, and the student has failed to change his/her status during the retakes and must now study under an Individual Curriculum, which should again include English language classes, then provided that grades for the English test (HSE’s test or Independent English Language Test) are “Satisfactory” or better, all the “Unsatisfactory” grades shall be substituted with the new exam grades.

Alternative options for English language acquisition

If you possess an international certificate indicating your English language proficiency, and if you do not want to, do not have time, or are unable to take the optional course, you can bring a certificate to your Programme Office and transfer this grade towards the optional course or the Internal English Language Test/Independent English Language Test.

A student may choose not to take the optional course and choose one of several self-education options, including commercial language schools, self-education websites, HSE’s continuing professional education courses. In such cases, the student must prove his/her ability to continue studies in the English language by taking the Internal English Language Test by the end of his/her freshman year, and the Independent English Language Test during the sophomore year. Therefore, the diploma supplement will not contain a record of the optional course but it will display the grade for the Independent English Language Test.

A student with elementary ability in English can find information about the Intensive Course of English Language for Academic Purposes on the webpage Bachelor+. This crash course is designed for students with A1-A2 level abilities, who have difficulties in using English for social and academic purposes and learning the language under the standard curriculum. You can find a hyperlink on the method of payment through HSE Payments.

Is this system effective?

It is …and the outcomes are great!

Every year, around 1% of students use international English proficiency certificates to transfer their credits and continue in a self-education format. These students would usually have worked hard on their English skills before entering HSE, as well as acquired effective self-study skills, and now have time to pursue something interesting and useful.

The average grade for the Independent English Language Test during the sophomore year has been above 6 for at least 5 years. As per international standards, this grade means that a student is able to take courses that are fully taught in English.

The vast majority of students attend the optional English language course for 2 years. This is generally considered the proper approach — why not use this free additional source of knowledge to acquire an essential skill?

Can I study English during my senior years?

The English Language course is not offered during the senior years.

However, you can apply the skills you acquired during the 1st years of the university if you take courses in English. Some of them are offered by native speakers. Here at HSE, we think that the best way to keep your language level high is to use the language in professional context.

During your final year, you may add the optional course “English Academic Writing” (2 credits) to your Individual Curriculum. Students who choose this course will be better prepared for writing a project proposal for their thesis.

At the end of the 3rd module of the final year, all students, even those of them who didn’t take a course in academic writing, are obliged to write a project proposal in English, as well as defend it. The proposal is also going to be examined through the Antiplagiat (plagiarism detection check) system.

What HSE regulations govern English language studies?

The Concept for the Acquisition of Communication Skills in a Foreign Language by HSE Bachelor’s and Specialist students

Procedures for Coordinating and Conducting the Independent English Language Test (Appendix 10 to Regulations for Interim and Ongoing Assessment of Students)


 

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