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Learning and Teaching Handbook

1.3.1 University Guidelines

1. Durham University welcomes applications from all students irrespective of background. We encourage the recruitment of academically well-qualified and highly motivated students, who are non-native speakers of English[1], whose full potential can be realised with a limited amount of English Language training either prior to entry or through pre-sessional and/or in-sessional courses.

2. It is the normal expectation that candidates for admission should be able to demonstrate satisfactory English proficiency before the start of a programme of study, whether via the submission of an appropriate English language qualification or by attendance on an appropriate pre-sessional course. Therefore, applicants who are not native speakers of English should normally either:

 a. have been taught and passed a qualification which meets the University's entry requirements using English Language, within two years prior to their programme or pre-sessional course start date[1] (please note that applicants who require a visa to study may not be eligible for consideration under this category, see paragraph 3 below for details) or

 b. have taken a recognised English Language proficiency test within two years prior to their programme or pre-sessional course start date (see for details of accepted English Language proficiency tests).

3. Native English speakers originating from the following countries, or applicants whose entrance qualifications were studied in English in one of the following countries, are not required to submit evidence of English language competency. : 

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada (Canadian and/or EEA nationals only) [3]
  • the Channel Islands
  • Dominica
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland (Republic of)
  • the Isle of Man
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • the USA

4. There may be cases where individual discretion will be required when applying the English Language requirements (for example, if an applicant is bilingual but originating from a non-majority English speaking country or has demonstrated proficiency in English Language through other means). In such cases, the advice of the English Language Centre should be obtained and a concession provided if appropriate. For applicants requiring a Tier 4 visa to study, academic discretion may be limited by the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration and advice should be sought from the Student Recruitment & Admissions Office.

5. The University's standard English Language entry requirements for direct entry are given in Departments with approval to apply non-standard entry requirements in respect of English Language are listed in the table in Section, which includes the specific requirements for that Department. These levels vary according to the linguistic requirements of particular academic disciplines and are approved by the Quality and Standards Sub Committee following consultation with the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office, who will consult with the English Language Centre and International Office.

6. Responsibility and authority for ensuring the implementation by departments/schools of the University's English Language requirements lies with the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office. It is the responsibility of the admissions selector or selectors for individual programmes to ensure that the correct English Language requirements are included in offers for eligible applicants.

[1] A non-native speaker of English is any individual for whom English is not their first language or “mother tongue”. This will include international and European students who are citizens or residents of majority non-English speaking nations. 

[2] The two year time limit may be extended to 6 in certain circumstances, please see section for details.

[3] In the case of Canada, nationals of that country can be considered native English speakers and exempted from the English Language requirements but qualifications from Canadian schools, colleges or universities are not accepted as evidence for English as the medium of study and English competence for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.