Sussex Centre for Language Studies

Course structure and assessments for 40-week pre-sessional course

Pre-sessional courses are intensive academic development courses taught by experienced tutors from the Sussex Centre for Language Studies.

There are 21 hours of class time per week, divided into two main areas:

  • General English (every morning): 15 hours
  • Academic English and study skills (three afternoons per week): 6 hours

Weeks 1-12 of the 40-week course:

The main focus will be on developing language accuracy to express ideas in clear written English and to offer experience in writing academic paragraphs and short essays. The course includes a reading programme to increase speed and improve comprehension. As part of their academic writing development, students are set regular writing exercises to practise particular rhetorical structures such as comparison and contrast or cause and effect.  Content and structure are revised in successive draft versions, and formative feedback given. 

Weeks 13-24 of the 40-week course:

Alongside essential study skills, the skills required for academic essay writing are further developed. The focus will be on improving sentence construction, punctuation, and the logical organisation of ideas. Writing exercises to practise academic rhetorical structures continue to be set, and the ongoing revision of drafts is encouraged in response to formative feedback. There will be some practice of academic listening in Weeks 13-30.

Weeks 25-30 of the 40-week course:

The focus in the shorter summer term is on the production of unseen and researched essays or similar texts. The approach is a blend of peer editing and review and the critical reading of final drafts. Opportunities are given to practise speaking in academic contexts, and formative feedback continues.

Assessment: Language progress is assessed in the Intensive English (morning) part of the course.  Academic English and study skills are assessed by the completion of a portfolio of written tasks. All items may be reworked before submission of the portfolio and the provision of  summative feedback.

To progress to the 10-week Summer Pre-sessional course, students are required to

  • Pass Intensive English language assessments (See Intensive English Handbook for further details.)
  • Complete all Extended Pre-sessional English portfolio assignments
  • Maintain full attendance

In addition to developing an overall command of English, the first 30 weeks of the pre-sessional course help students to develop good academic practice, including

  • critical reading
  • writing synthesised summaries
  • undertaking  a short research project
  • completing academic assignments, such as written exercises and reports
  • practising academic skills such as citation and referencing
  • delivering an oral presentation and participating in discussion.

Weeks 31-40 of the 40-week course

For the last 10 weeks of the course the focus changes to developing English for Academic Study. All skills areas (reading, writing, listening and speaking) are included, as are sessions on Academic Culture and Academic Practice. Students receive a new course handbook at the start of the summer period.