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Durham University

DCAD: English Language Support

Academic Language and Communication Courses

Successful academic study at University level requires mastery of a range of writing, reading and speaking skills. For some students, departmental expectations of how to write may be very different from what they are used to, and it can quite frequently involve learning a new thinking and writing process. The Durham Centre for Academic Development's Academic Language and Communication (ALC) courses are designed to help students make this transition and acquire the academic language and skills they need to succeed in UK higher education.

The ALC programme currently offers more than 40 different courses to help students take their academic skills to the next level. We also work closely with several other departments to offer collaborative courses, which help students get more from their Durham experience.

Who can attend?

Any student enrolled at Durham University can take ALC courses. ALC courses are suitable for both home and international students from all levels and disciplines.

How much does it cost?

All ALC courses are free to Durham students.

Which ALC courses should I take?

We have arranged the ALC courses into 4 main areas:

  • Specific Types of Academic Writing
  • Specific Academic Skills
  • Academic Language Use
  • UK Academic Culture

You can choose courses from whichever areas you would like to improve your performance or understanding in.

You can see a full list of the courses available here.

We run the ALC programme as a 'pick and mix' service- students can sign up to as many or as few of our courses as they would like, and most courses run more than once so students can fit ALC courses around their other commitments.

If you cannot decide which courses may be benefical to you, you should come to an ALC Drop-In session at the start of terms 1 and 2. If you have missed these, you can email us for advice at any point.

Special collaborative courses will also be running and you can find out more about these and when they are running by visiting the 'Collaborative Courses' tab on our webpages.

When are the Academic Language and Communication courses?

Most courses run Monday - Thursday in the evenings. There are two possible time slots- 17:15-17:45 or 18:00-19:30. We also offer some courses on Wednesday afternoons 14:00-15:30.

Courses mostly take place in Michaelmas term (term 1), with more specialised courses and some repeats running in Epiphany term (term 2). Most courses are repeated more than once to help fit around your schedule.

Most of our courses are single sessions, but some more complex topics require 2-3 sessions. Courses that consist of multiple sessions will usually run on the same night across multiple weeks. Please see the current course timetable for details.

Where are the courses held?

Most ALC courses take place either in Elvet Riverside or at Lower Mountjoy. You will be able to check which room your course is in when you book a place.

How can I book a place on a course?

You can book ALC courses using the online booking system. You can browse our events to find the courses you want- courses are released for booking at the start of each term.

What happens if a course is full?

If a course is full, you should check if it is running again at a later date. Most courses run more than once. You can also register for a place on the waiting list and you will be notified by email if a place becomes available.

I have a specific problem that I need more help with

If you need more help with an issue after you have attended an ALC course, you can consider booking a one-to-one consultation with one of our tutors. Students can book up to three 45 minute consultations per term.

Can I access the course materials online?

All students who attend ALC courses (or take the DAAW) are automatically added to the ALC DUO group where they can access materials from the courses they have attended. They will also receive weekly updates on the courses that are coming up, as well as receiving access to the EAP toolkit - a bank of resources students can access to improve their academic language and skills.

If you have any questions, please email us at

Introductory Message

We understand how challenging it can be to study in a different culture and in a different language. The In-sessional team are here to help you develop your English academic language skills so that you can fulfil your potential. Our teachers are all qualified and experienced academic English professionals with postgraduate degrees (many from Durham!) so really understand the pressure you are under and the skills you need.

We look forward to meeting you!

Louise Greener, In-sessional Cross-disciplinary Course Coordinator


Student Testimonial

'It is interesting, useful and rewarding to attend. I have learned more than I expected.'

Student Feedback 2013-14

Student Testimonial

'I have been taking In-sessional courses since I came to Durham. The courses give me constant assistance with my studies. Without the In-sessional courses and the teacher's efforts I would struggle with general academic skills.

The materials are easy to understand and suitable for everyone from different departments.'

Yinyun Shi, Undergraduate Music Student, 2012