Sussex Centre for Language Studies


Who are the open courses for?

All our open courses in modern languages are available to everyone who is 18 or over. Courses are not restricted to those who are working or studying at the University, they are also available to the wider community and to businesses. The only entry requirement for our courses is your enthusiasm.

What language courses are available?

Weekly courses are offered in the following modern languages: Arabic, British Sign Language, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

How many people will there be in each class?

The minimum number of students per class is usually 8, and the maximum number in any group is 16 people.

What are the aims and objectives of the courses?

Our courses have all the advantages of learning a language with other people under the guidance of tutors who are experienced and well-qualified language experts. The courses focus on spoken language and an exploration of the target culture and society. Grammar is included as, without it, progress is limited – however, no class is based entirely on grammar.

We will help you to learn a language and explore the culture and society of the country concerned in a relaxed learning environment. Our aim is to give you the opportunity to learn how to communicate in your chosen language, making your learning experience as beneficial and enjoyable as possible.

What will we cover in the course?

On the pages of course listings you should find a link to a description for each course. These show the specific aspects of the language that will be covered during the course. Should you have trouble downloading the files, please contact the Open Course Coordinator who will be happy to provide a hard copy. If a course description is not available for any particular course, please let us know and we will put you in contact with the tutor.

Will I receive a formal qualification at the end of my course?

With the exception of the British Sign Language courses which are accredited by Signature, our open courses are not accredited which means you do not receive a formal qualification at the end of your course. However, you will receive a 'Certificate of Completion' confirming your completion of a language course with the Sussex Centre for Language Studies and the language level you have attained on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). We normally send 'Certificates of Completion' during the summer. However, if you need one right after the end of your course you can request if by emailing the Open Course Coordinator at

What time are the classes and how long are the courses for?

Courses are offered at lunchtimes, from 1 until 2.30pm, or in the evening, from 6 to 7.30pm with each course meeting lasting for an hour and a half (except where stated otherwise).

We offer both 20-week open courses and 12-week courses. The 20-week open courses run for 10 weeks in the Autumn term (from September/October to December) and 10 weeks in the Spring term (from January/February to April). All our 20-week open courses are offered at different levels, from beginners to expert level.

The 12-week courses run in the Spring term (from January/February to April) and are offered at beginners and elementary levels. Courses are sometimes also offered at other levels.

How are British Sign Language courses different from other open courses?

In addition to our 20-week open courses programme, we also offer qualifications in British Sign Language Level 1 and Level 2. These courses and their assessments are accredited by Signature - a recognised awarding body offering nationally accredited qualifications that cover the whole range of languages and communication methods used by deaf and deafblind people.

Both BSL level 1 and 2 courses are divided into three units, each unit taught over 10 weeks. Classes take place once a week and last 2 hours (for BSL 1 units 101, 102 and 103) and 3 hours (for BSL 2 units 201, 202 and 203). The BSL courses are divided into three units, each unit runs for 10 weeks: BSL 101 & 201 (between September – December), 102 & 202 (between January – March) and 103 & 203 (between April – June). Please refer to the BSL pages for more detailed information about these courses.

When do the courses start?

Our 20-week open courses programme starts in late September, early October. Our 12-week courses begin in late January/early February. Please make sure you check on the main open courses website for all start dates and times. Courses are limited so we encourage students to apply for the courses as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

When can I enrol for a course?

Enrolment for our courses is normally possible once our timetable has been published. For courses commencing in September/October, this is normally during August. For courses commencing in January/February, it is usually December. We continue to accept enrolments up until a week before the start of the courses.

How do I qualify for the reduced fee?

Our reduced fee is available to: full-time students (whether at University of Sussex or elsewhere); staff of the University of Sussex; alumni of the University of Sussex; those whose sole source of income is some form of state benefit; people who are retired and on state pension only. If you fall into one of these categories, you are eligible to pay the reduced fee. Otherwise, the full fee should be paid.

Can fees be paid in instalments?

Unfortunately we do not offer the facility to pay fees in instalments. The fee advertised for the course must be paid in full at the time of enrolment. Payment is possible by credit/debit card which must be done online. If you wish to pay in cash please visit the school office (Arts A, A70), we do not accept cash sent by mail.

Can I join a course that is already underway?

For most courses, we can continue to accept new learners up to approximately three weeks after the start of the course. This can vary according to the language and level of course, and is subject to places still being available. We cannot normally offer a reduction in the fee for people who join a course late. For the two-term courses (autumn and spring), it is also sometimes possible to join a course at their natural mid-point during the Christmas vacation. This will be assessed on a course by course basis. Alternatively, you could apply for one of the 12-week courses that start in January/February. Please enquire with the Open Courses Coordinator for details.

What happens if I miss a class?

We kindly ask you to try to be on time for your classes and recommend that all students attend all classes in order to keep up with the group and make the most of the course. Attendance on the open courses is not compulsory. However, your progress will obviously be limited if you do not attend regularly or complete the preparation set between classes.

If you cannot make it to one of the classes, please let us know by ringing 01273 872575 or emailing and we will pass the message on to your tutor.

Because of the large number of learners on the open courses, it is not always possible for tutors to provide copies of work that has been missed through absence from a class. We recommend in such cases that learners get in contact with their classmates so that they can catch up on any work that they have missed.

I'm not sure what level to go for. Can someone let me know what level I am?

General descriptions of the different levels of our courses can be found on here. If you find that these do not help you, it can often be useful to read the course descriptions for the courses, as they provide more specific detail on the aspects of the language that will be studied.

As a very general guide: Stage 1 is for people with zero knowledge of the language; at Stage 2, people will normally have done some previous study at school, but they have become rusty; Stage 3 learners will have more confidence at basic level, perhaps having studied more recently; Stage 4 equates roughly to people who were of a higher education standard but are rusty; Stage 5 is for people with higher education standard in the language and above. Those who have lived in an country where the language is spoken or often travel to it.

If you still can't decide the Open Course Coordinator can put you in touch with a tutor to help you decide on the most suitable course and level for you. All tutors are available for consultation on the focus of their classes. Should you need further guidance, the Open Courses Convenor, Rachel Cole, can also offer you some advice on 01273 876532 or by email at

Can I move up or down a level if I find it too easy or too difficult?

Yes, we will always try to allocate you in a class group appropriate to your level. However, this will depend on the availability of the course and the agreement of the tutors involved, especially if the move is happening half-way through the course.

What facilities are available?

The Language Learning Centre offers excellent facilities for language teaching and learning. Our teaching rooms are equipped with overhead projectors and up-to-date audio/visual equipment.

We welcome learners with special requirements; however we request that you discuss these with us before joining a course. Should wheelchair access be required, suitable rooms will be allocated. It is possible to provide hearing loops in certain classrooms. Please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

The Language Learning Centre houses:

Workstations offering learners the possibility to pursue their studies via audio and video recordings; facilities to sample live television by satellite from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and England; a large bank of resource materials in many world languages; a wide selection of foreign language films; a browsing section with newspapers, magazines and a learner-friendly catalogue to consult.

Learners will be given advice on how best to use the resources to meet their own needs. Please contact the Language Learning Centre for more information:

T: 01273 678006



Will I be able to use the Language Learning Centre?

If you are a student, a member of staff or an alumnus at the University of Sussex, you are already entitled to use the facilities at the Language Learning Centre. If you are not currently a member of the university in this way, you may be entitled to access to some of the facilities as an open course learner. Please contact the Language Learning Centre for specific details.