Skip to main content

UG and PGT Courses

Students in lecture

What does the course include?

The undergraduate (UG) pre-sessional course is designed for students whose first language is not English who wish to pursue undergraduate studies at Durham. The postgraduate taught (PGT) pre-sessional course is designed for students whose first language is not English who wish to pursue postgraduate taught studies at Durham.

Both courses are suitable for both those who have narrowly missed their language condition.

You can join for either 20 weeks, 10 weeks or 6 weeks. 

If you take the 20 week course, the first ten weeks includes a thorough grounding in the listening, reading, writing and speaking skills you will need to participate effectively in your studies at Durham. On the 20 week course, you will study in a mixed cohort of all levels for the first ten weeks, before transferring onto a separate undergraduate or postgraduate taught track for the last ten weeks.

The 10 week course (and the second half of the 20 week course), as well as the 6 week course, focus on developing the following skills:

  • Effective reading & navigation of academic articles and other text types
  • Notetaking skills
  • Summarising arguments from several sources and synthesising these in order to express an academic position
  • Learning to avoid plagiarism through effective notetaking strategies, drafting and re-drafting of writing, and academic acknowledgement (citation and referencing)
  • Giving formal presentations and participating in / leading discussions and seminars
  • Developing effective lecture listening skills

The pre-sessional course mirrors the academic process that you will typically follow in your department:

  • First you engage with academic knowledge through reading and/or through listening to a lecture
  • Next, you may present to your peers on your reading and/or take part in a seminar where you develop and refine your understandings through discussion with your peers and with your teacher
  • Finally, you may then produce a piece of writing which engages more deeply with the academic issues you have been engaging with.

We believe in developing your academic English, so language feedback and development (e.g. grammar) will often be based on what you write and/or present during the course.


How is the course taught?

You will be expected to participate in activities, discussions and classes with your teacher and classmates on a daily basis (Monday-Friday).

You will be expected to spend at least 25-30 hours a week in total on your pre-sessional studies (this includes your class time, tutorials, your self-study activity and your homework and assessment tasks).

You will have a class with dedicated tutors and a small number of classmates (10-15 students) that you can get to know. Within your class, you will have regular opportunities for collaboration and discussion, you will be able to share questions and ideas and work together in developing your learning. We provide all course materials digitally- this includes learning materials, readings and supporting videos.

In addition to class time, you will have regular one-to-one contact with your tutor to discuss your learning, progress and work you have produced. You will also get regular, detailed written feedback to help you improve as the course progresses.


What does a week on pre-sessional look like?

You will typically have two class sessions a day (Mon-Fri) for which you will need to prepare. Class sessions typically last approximately 90 minutes each with a short break in between. You may also have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor (depending on the week).

Outside class sessions you will have ongoing homework and assessments to work on, and there will usually be optional social activity each week run by College.


How will I be assessed?

In order to pass the course you will need to attend and participate in at least 90% of scheduled learning activity (including classes and tutorials), complete all assessments (including formative tasks), and achieve the exit level required by your department in your summative assessments.

Assessments include: written tasks based on extensive reading and submitted by specific deadlines; presentations on topics covered during your studies delivered live to your class and tutor; and individual interview-style listening tests with your tutor where you will demonstrate your understanding of a lecture you have previously accessed and taken notes on.

All pre-sessional courses are designed to help you develop your skills in each of these assessment types. You will have opportunities to practice relevant skills and receive feedback to support your summative assessment performance.


Is there a social programme?

Yes - and Durham prides itself on its exceptional College Experience. The pre-sessional programme is partnered with Josephine Butler College in order to provide a tailored college experience throughout the summer to prepare you fully for Durham life.

We recommend students take accommodation in our partner college Josephine Butler, where you will be able to access the full range of benefits available to pre-sessional students, including social activities, welfare support and excellent facilities.