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English Language Centre

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 English Language Centre's Academic Language and Communication (ALC) courses are designed to help students make this transition and acquire the academic literacy and language skills they need to succeed in UK academic culture.

The Academic Language and Communication programme offers a multitude of courses, including lectures, workshops and intensive courses, to help students take their academic skills to the next level. We also work closely with several other departments to offer collaborative courses to help them get more from their Durham experience.

Who can attend?

Any student enrolled at Durham University can take an ALC course.

How much does it cost?

All ALC courses are free to Durham students.

Which Academic Language and Communication courses should I take?

New students can take the DAAW (Durham Assessment of Academic Writing) at the beginning of the academic year (September/October) to assess their current academic language level and get recommendations for the most appropriate courses.

The ALC self-diagnostic tool is also available, which allows continuing students to assess their own current level and see which courses are recommended. Use the tool by choosing the option that best reflects you and following it through until the end of the tool is reached with the recommended In-sessional stream for your needs.

When are the Academic Language and Communication courses?

Most courses run Monday - Thursday from 5.15 - 6.45 or 6 - 7.30pm. We also offer some courses on Wednesday afternoons between 2 - 3.30pm.

Courses are spread across the academic year and most courses are repeated more than once to help fit around your schedule. Courses that consist of multiple classes will usually run on the same night across multiple weeks. Please see the current course schedule for details.

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.

Where are the courses held?

Most ALC courses at Durham take place in Elvet Riverside or science site. You will be informed which room your course will take place in when you book a place and you will be notified of any changes by email.

We also provide ALC courses to students at Queen's Campus. Courses take place on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6.15 - 7.15pm.

How can I register for a course?

You can register for ALC courses using the Training Course Booking System. All courses will be listed under the Academic Language and Communication category.

What happens if a class is full?

If a class is full, you should check if the class 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. You 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 literacy skills.

If you have any questions, please email our administration team 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