Degree Programs & Courses Language Courses

English courses

English courses run by Academic English Services (AES) are designed to provide language support for undergraduate and graduate students who need to understand, speak, and write English for their studies and academic careers. The courses are open to students who are matriculated to study for a full degree at the University of Bern and to international students taking part in an exchange semester at the University. All courses are free of charge. The courses are not open to students studying at other universities or educational institutions in Switzerland, including incoming BENEFRI students or students from the BFH.  

We try to provide a wide range of courses to suit the different needs and levels of English that are typical for students at the University of Bern. Because most students have had 5 or more years of English at school, our courses are at intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1 & above).

Overview of courses

A list of available courses can be found in the course catalog (CTS/KSL system) by typing Academic English Services in the simple search box or by looking on the individual pages for bachelor, master or doctoral students (scroll to the bottom of this web page to find them). 

How to register

It is NOT possible to register for our standard courses using either the KSL/CTS system or ILIAS. 

Students new to our courses submit a placement test by email and wait for an answer before they can attend a course. Students who have already successfully completed one of our courses register by sending us an email. 

The next opportunity to start attending a standard course is in the spring 2019 semester. However, certain workshops on will be on offer in November and December (self-registration in KSL, no placement test necessary for attendance). Information about the workshops is available here


Information about how to register will be available here towards the end of December 2018. 

What we offer

We have a number of courses designed to develop students’ all-round academic English: vocabulary and reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. These enable you to participate more effectively in university courses. The courses are called English for University Studies (EUS) and are offered at three different levels: 

If you are not familiar with the terms B1, B2, etc. used to describe the levels at which our courses are given, please take a look at the Council of Europe self-assessment grid at the bottom of this page under Find out more.  

Specific language needs

Our English courses are also designed to help students with specific language needs.

We run an Advanced Speaking course for students who seek to improve their spoken English. The course is open to bachelor, master, and doctoral students who are already at an advanced (C1) level. The focus in this course is on broadening students' English speaking skills in an academic environment. Activities include pronunciation exercises and participating in and leading discussions based on current themes arising from academic studies and research.

Students at an upper-intermediate level (B2) also have the chance to improve their spoken English in Speaking with Confidence, a course designed to provide students with practice in verbal communication in an academic setting. The course helps students use conversation strategies efficiently and appropriately by focusing on fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

Academic writing courses for bachelor or master students are held at an upper-intermediate/advanced level every second semester. The next courses are scheduled to take place in spring 2019.  

Courses for doctoral students

Academic writing courses for doctoral students are offered at upper-intermediate and advanced levels every second semester. These courses incorporate a range of approaches, including the analysis of sample authentic texts specific to participants' disciplines. Course participants are expected to submit regular writing assignments and are given individual guidance and feedback on revising their texts, some of which may later be incorporated into doctoral theses or articles submitted for publication. Full information is available on our web page for doctoral students.

TOEFL exam preparation

In spring 2017, we added a TOEFL Exam Preparation Course to our program. The course is designed to help students who need to take the official TOEFL exam, either for study abroad or for their studies in Switzerland, and provides practice in all four academic English skills assessed by the TOEFL exam: reading, listening,speaking, and writing. Please note that the TOEFL course is an exam preparation course; English for University Studies courses are more suitable for students who wish to improve their general skills in academic English. 

The University of Bern is not an official testing center for TOEFL and exam registration for the official TOEFL qualification is not included as part of the course. Registration for the TOEFL examination remains the responsibility of the individual student.  Links to information about the official TOEFL examination are included on the TOEFL/IELTS section of our website.

Your commitment

If you register for a course, you agree to attend regularly (80% of all classes) and sit the final examination or participate in any evaluation. 

You may withdraw (de-register) from a course after the first class. If you have not de-registered before or on the day the second session is held, it is understood that you will complete the course and take the exam or participate in any assessment. If you do not, you will be given a fail grade of 1 (one) and you will not be able to attend another course run by Academic English Services.    

If you do not attend a course for 2 weeks without contacting the lecturer, you will automatically be de-registered and your place will be given to someone on the waiting list. To de-register from a class, send an email to

ECTS credits

Students can earn ECTS credits for the English courses if they fulfill the requirements. The courses require at least 80% attendance, active participation, completion of all coursework and passing the final examination or course evaluation to receive the ECTS credits.  The ECTS credits are usually recorded in the diploma supplement as voluntary additional attainments.  

NB. Please consult the student advisor in your department to find out whether our course credits will count towards your degree. We are unable to do this for you.