We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham Centre for Academic Development

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Summer Pre-sessional

+Can I change my Pre-sessional course if I achieve a higher IELTS score?

You should apply for the Pre-sessional course stated in your degree programme offer which is based on your current IELTS score.

If you subsequently achieve a higher score, you should forward a copy of your TRF to your department and ask them to amend the Pre-sessional condition. If they agree to this, send a copy of the revised offer letter to us and we will transfer you to the shorter course - provided you meet the criteria for that course.

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

  • If you have a) met all non-language conditions of your academic degree programme offer, AND if b) your IELTS profile is close to your department's requirements, the answer may be yes. In this case you may qualify for an integrated offer and a single visa. You could then choose to join our Durham Academic Literacy Induction (DALI) programme instead of retaking IELTS. Your department will be able to let you know if you are eligible.
  • If your offer is conditional on attending and successfully completing a four, eight or a twelve-week student, the answer is no. If you are later able to confirm all non-language conditions of your offer, however, you may become eligible for an integrated offer (see above). If you think this is the case, please contact your department and ask.
  • 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 hold an unconditional offer from your Durham department, then yes, you will proceed automatically.
  • If you hold an integrated offer that begins with a Durham Academic Literacy Induction (DALI) programme, then you may qualify for a single visa that also covers your degree course; however, progression is not automatic. You must still satisfy all DALI course requirements in order to proceed onto your chosen academic programme at the end of September.
  • If you hold a conditional offer for the 12-week (EAP 1), 8-week (EAP 2) or 4-week (PARSE) student, then no, progression 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 details, please see the FAQ here, entitled "what does it mean to 'successfully complete' a Pre-Sessional programme?"

+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 or even if you hold an integrated offer, attendance alone does not guarantee that you will enter your department. Please see the other FAQs here for details of what it means to 'successfully' complete' a Pre-Sessional and (for integrated offer holders) details of the DALI course requirements.

+What is the assessment used on the course?

  • During the course you will do presentations, 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. 
  • Your exit grade at the end of the course is composed of scores for the final writing (timed conditions + edited work) and speaking assessment (presentation). Your final report form will show an overall result and individual scores for each of these components.

+What does the course content focus upon?

  • In general we aim to provide you with an induction 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 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 'successfully complete' a Pre-Sessional programme?

  • In order to successfully complete the one, two or three month Pre-sessional programme you must meet the 90% attendance requirement and complete all the assignments and assessment on the course.
  • Additionally, for the 12 and 8 week Pre-sessional programmes, Your final 'pass' / 'fail' decision is based on three pieces of work in September: your extended essay, your final timed essay and your final presentation.
  • If you are an undergraduate student, you will need to obtain final grades of at least 58, 58 and 62 in these three pieces of work. The 62 must be in writing.
  • If you are a postgraduate student, you will need to obtain final grades of at least 58, 62 and 62 (in any combination).
  • 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 is the Durham Academic Literacy Induction (DALI) programme?

  • The Durham Academic Literacy Induction (DALI) is a course of one, two or three months' study in academic language and literacy skills. It is for students who have been given an integrated programme offer by Durham University. You may qualify for a DALI course if:

a) you have met all non-language conditions specified in your academic programme offer;

b) you meet the English language entry level specified by your department for entry onto DALI

  • Please note that you may not qualify for DALI and for an integrated offer when you first apply to Durham. However, you may later become eligible, when you are able to confirm all the non-language conditions of your degree programme offer. If you think you have met these conditions, please contact your department.