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English Language Centre

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Summer Pre-sessional

+Can I get a single visa (CAS) to cover both my Durham Pre-Sesssional programme AND my Durham degree programme?

If you are a one-month PARSE programme student AND you have confirmed your previous degree GPA for your Durham department, the answer is yes. You will receive a single CAS and you will not need to renew your visa at the end of your Pre-Sessional course.

If you are an eight or a twelve-week student, the answer is maybe. UK immigration regulations changed in early 2014 and these now allow the possibility of a single CAS. If you hold a conditional offer for a Durham degree programme and have also been offered a place on a Pre-Sessional programme, it may well be possible to obtain a single visa to cover you for both courses of study. The University will let you know if this is going to be possible for your application.

Please note: if you are an EEA applicant or hold a passport from an English Majority country, you do not need a visa to study in the UK.

+Do I have to re-take the IELTS at the end of the course?

  • No. If you successfully complete the Pre-sessional, you will have fulfilled your English condition.
  • Note, however, that you are still able to take the IELTS instead of Pre-sessional if you would like to, especially if you think that you will not be able to successfully complete the Pre-sessional

+Will I continue automatically onto my degree course after Pre-sessional?

  • If you are a PARSE (one-month Pre-sessional) student and/or you have an unconditional offer from your Durham department, yes, you will proceed onto your chosen academic programme at the end of September.
  • If you are a 12 week (EAP 1) or 8 week (EAP 2) student, then no, continuation is not automatic. Entry onto your degree course depends on your Pre-sessional performance. You must successfully complete Pre-sessional to the level required by your department, in order to proceed. For most departments this means getting a Pre-sessional 'B' grade. 

+How many students fail Pre-Sessional?

  • Very few. Over 95% of students with conditional offers successfully complete Pre-Sesional and proceed into their chosen Durham departments.
  • It is very important to understand, however, that you can fail the course. Progression is not automatic. If your offer is conditional, attendance alone does not guarantee that you will enter your department. You must achieve an exit grade of 'B' or higher. Please also see the FAQ on successful completion.

+What is the assessment used on the course?

  • We do not decide your Pre-sessional grade only with an end-of-course test. We use a combination of work you do throughout the course.
  • During the course you will do take-home assignments and timed writing assignments in class. Additionally, you will do a research project over the course of the programme on a topic that you choose from within your field of study. This will include a written essay and a presentation. All of these items form part of your overall assessment. 
  • Your exit grade at the end of the course is composed of scores for writing (timed conditions + edited work) and speaking (presentations + seminars). Your final report form will show an overall grade and individual grades for each of these components.

+What is the course like?

  • In general we aim to provide you with a socialisation into the kinds of academic practices that you will be experiencing on your degree programmes at Durham. By working with academic content in reading, listening, speaking and writing, you will participate in work that will reflect in some way similar tasks and processes to those you will need from October. Through spoken and written academic work you will also work on your linguistic skills, and increase your awareness of appropriately academic means of expression.
  • We also emphasise research skills and help you to become familiar with the library at Durham. These skills are improved through an extended essay project on a topic in your acacemic field of study.

+How useful will the Pre-sessional course be to me?

  • Past students tell us that the Pre-sessional course really helped them to succeed on their degree course. 
  • Departments also tell us they can see a positive difference between those students who take Pre-sessional and those who do not. 
  • Most students who have taken Pre-sessional report back that they feel far more prepared for their studies than international students who have not taken the course.

+How do I know how many months of Pre-sessional I should take?

  • You need to submit your IELTS (or TOEFL) score to your department. If you were not able to achieve the required score, your department will determine whether Pre-sessional is an acceptable alternative AND how many months of Pre-sessional to take. While the English Language Centre can advise the department, the decision rests with the department, so you need to contact them.
  • An increasing number of students with fully unconditional offers are also now choosing to take a Pre-sessional programme to improve their academic literacy skills in English. In this case, we recommend one month if you are looking for some extra time to adjust to living in Durham and you hope to get a general idea of what the expectations are in an English university in terms of essay writing, research, etc. 
  • If you are hoping to see greater improvement in your academic literacy, basic research and language skills, we would recommend two or three months of Pre-sessional study.

+What does it mean to 'sucessfully complete' the Two or Three Month programme (EAP1, 2)?

  • In order to successfully complete the two/three month Pre-sessional you must meet the 90% attendance requirement and complete all the assignments and assessment on the course. At the end of your programme, you need to obtain an overall 'B' grade. 
  • In our experience those students who come to class every day and do all the work to the best of their ability are usually able to succeed.

+What does it mean to 'successfully complete' the one month PARSE programme (EAP3)?

  • In order to successfully complete the four week PARSE Pre-sessional you must meet the 90% attendance requirement and complete all the assignments and assessment on the course. 
  • If you've only been asked to do one month, the assumption is that your English is already almost good enough but that you will benefit from one month of academic literacy skills development. You do not need to worry, therefore, about grades and assessment, provided you come to class every day and complete all the required work to the best of your ability.