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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

1.3.2 Pre-sessional English Language

1. Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) offers a range of courses for students for whom English is not a first language. These include 20, 10 and 6-week Pre-Sessional courses that students take to meet their language requirement.

2. The relevant Board of Studies, or their nominee, is responsible for determining whether a Pre-Sessional English course is suitable preparation for entry to their individual degree programmes. For programmes where this is the case, the Recruitment & Admissions Office will include this as a condition of entry where applicable.

3. Applicants accepted for a Pre-Sessional programme must achieve the appropriate Pre-Sessional grade for their department. The Pre-Sessional entry levels 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 students who wish to meet their language condition via a Pre-Sessional programme should attend a Durham University Pre-Sessional (run by DCAD staff) before the start of a new academic year. Pre-Sessional certificates from other universities are not accepted without prior consultation with DCAD (to ensure that they are a satisfactory measure of competency), and with the Recruitment and Admissions Office (to ensure they meet the University’s entry requirements and the regulatory requirements of UK Visas and Immigration).

5. Late applications for entry may mean the applicant is unable to complete the necessary Pre-Sessional English Language course, and thus meet their language condition in time to be admitted to a taught qualification at the first entry point. In these cases, candidates for postgraduate programmes (except the Postgraduate Certificate of Education) should be offered deferred entry.

For undergraduate programmes and the Postgraduate Certificate of Education, deferred entry is not possible if there are outstanding admissions conditions, including English Language. For these programmes, all conditins of entry must be met by the 31st August of the application cycle in which an applicant applied.

Candidates for research degrees who apply late may need to be admitted at the start of the following term, having first successfully completed a Pre-Sessional programme of the required length. Details of the Pre-Sessional courses, including possible start dates, can be found at:

6. On admission to their academic programmes, students can access a range of academic language and literacy support during the academic year, including classes, one-to-one consultations and other provision offered in collaboration with departments. All students entering the University should be made aware of the academic language and literacy support offered by DCAD that is available to all students. Details are available at: