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 University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

1.3.2 Pre-sessional English Language

1. The English Language Centre offers a range of courses for non-native speakers of English, including a year-round pre-sessional, summer pre-sessionals and an MBA pre-sessional. They also offer in-sessional support to students.

2. The 4-week Pre-Sessional course offer can only be made as part of an integrated offer that includes automatic progression onto a degree programme. Departments/schools cannot therefore accept any student for the 4-week pre-sessional course on condition that they achieve a certain standard at the end of that course. The 4-week course is to be offered primarily to applicants who have either met their language condition or are 0.5 IELTS points short of the required departmental/school entry level in non-writing components and have nonetheless been accepted via a concession. A course of only 4 weeks cannot guarantee a measurable improvement in language ability and thus the 4-week Pre-Sessional course is designed principally to provide training in University-appropriate writing and speaking skills, academic conventions and library use.

3. If a department/school wishes to make pre-sessional study a 'condition' of entry, applicants should be offered an 8- or 12-week programme. These applicants will then still be required to "complete successfully" and must achieve a Pre-Sessional grade 'B' or higher. These regulations embody the principle that students should study for a minimum of four weeks for each 0.5 shortfall in their IELTS score. However, it is important to note that this rate of progress is for guidance only and progress is not guaranteed.

4. It is the normal expectation that Pre-sessional Programmes undertaken before the start of a new academic year should be held at Durham University. Pre-sessional certificates from other universities must not be accepted without prior consultation with the English Language Centre to ensure that they are a satisfactory measure of competency and with the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office to ensure that they also meet the regulatory requirements of UK Visas and Immigration.

5. In all cases late applications for entry may make it difficult to complete the necessary summer Pre-Sessional English Language courses in time. In such cases it will not be possible to offer admission to candidates for taught qualifications for the first entry point. A year-round Pre-Sessional programme may be possible for such candidates. Entry points exist in October, January and April and advice should be sought with the English Language Centre. Where a year-round Pre-sessional is not feasible, candidates for postgraduate programmes (except the Master in Social Work and Postgraduate Certificate of Education) should be offered deferred entry. It is not possible to offer deferred entry to undergraduate programmes or to the Master in Social Work or Postgraduate Certificate in Education programmes. Candidates for research degrees who apply late may need to be admitted at the start of the following term having successfully completed a summer or term-time year-round Pre-Sessional programme. Details of the year-round and summer pre-sessional courses can be found at and respectively.

6. All students entering the University should be made aware of the free In-Sessional academic language and literacy support that is available to all international students. Details are available at: Individual tutorials can be booked via