Pre-Sessional English Language

Apply now to complete a pre-sessional English language and study skills course run by the Centre for English Language Teaching (CELT).

Pre-sessional English Language and Study Skills Courses are essential for students who have a conditional offer from Ulster University, but who have not yet met the English language requirements of their chosen degree programme.

Students who have already met or exceeded the minimum English language requirements and hold an unconditional offer for their chosen degree programme, may also find a period of pre-sessional preparation highly beneficial.

With an intense focus on the English of their own subject of future study, and the mastering of specific skills for the completion of academic tasks, the 7-week Pre-sessional Standard course is highly recommended for students seeking to be as well prepared as possible for study at Ulster University.


Pre-Sessional English Language

Ulster’s pre-sessional courses are designed with students’ future areas of study in mind. Students enter a period of intense learning and engagement with authentic academic tasks, individually specified to familiarise students with the future expectations of their chosen course.

Their focus is on developing the academic language resources and skills needed to meet the English language requirements of successful study. Our courses are suitable for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Students develop and consolidate a full range of essential English language skills including:

Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing skills at university level necessitate a strong command of academic language and grammar. It is important to transition from phrasal verbs to more concise single verbs which aid academic style for example.

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  • During the pre-sessional you will engage with a variety of academic literature and develop strong analytical skills of how authors are presenting their academic work.
  • Interact with a range of media including recordings of academic presentations, lectures and subject specific texts.
  • Record pieces of work and video presentations that you are proud of on your leaner’s portfolio. These showcase your developing skills with academic language and grammar and enable you to track your progression.

Academic writing possesses its own style and categories of writing that you will be expected to produce while at university. For example; group reports, literature reviews, assignments and a dissertation is likely. Academic writing encompasses the micro sentence level to the macro level of your completed product.

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  • Essential elements of the paragraph: Topic Sentences with controlling ideas, support sentences reinforced with examples and evidence, rounded off with a strong conclusion sentence- you will be shown how to develop your writing skills to maintain your unique academic style.
  • Accumulation of skills ranging from the sentence level to paraphrasing, citations and complete essays.
  • Engage with your classmates, peer assess and learn from each other.
  • Identify high quality examples of Academic Literature from your proposed area of study.
  • Interact with educational resources to expand your academic phrasebank.


Example of an academic paragraph:

An Authoritarian Leadership Style positively impacts corporate workplaces. To what extent do you agree?

TOPIC SENTENCE. Introduces the general topic. Not too specific:

The varied styles of leadership provoke both positive and negative effects. This is due to a direct, symbiotic relationship between a manager’s actions and the efficiency and satisfaction of the employees.

DEFINITION. This helps the reader to understand any specific terminology. A citation is needed for a paraphrase:

In relation to an Authoritarian Leadership style, this refers to the unilateral delivery of a manager’s commands and expectations. While this may be seen in a negative light there are benefits which exist such as the increased efficiency in making important decisions (IMD, 2021).

THESIS STATEMENT. Refers to the key question words and develops your stance:

Overall, the ability to manage fellow employees directly contributes to the efficacy and atmosphere within a corporate work environment. An Authoritarian Leadership style may be enacted differently among different individual managers and can therefore not be seen as exclusively positive for all corporate parties concerned.

OUTLINE. This explains the purpose of the essay. It details what order key elements will be explored:

This essay investigates the nature of Authoritarian Leadership, identifies its impact on corporate workspaces followed by a recommendation for its implementation, abandonment or adaptation into the day-to-day administration of a firm.

Have you heard about SQ3R? How often do you ‘Skim and Scan’ when you read? When faced with a long research article it can at first seem challenging to locate the information you need. You will practise and develop this crucial skill via a range of current and evidence-based reading strategies.

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  • Explore the process of reading an unfamiliar text.
  • Understand what you can do before you settle down to read a text.
  • Become an active reader through investigative, specific questions to get the most out of what you read and be able to use that information effectively.

Communicating with university staff

  • Working cooperatively with classmates
  • Asking for more detailed information
  • Listening to information rich lectures


These skills are of equal importance to reading and writing at university. By strengthening each of your language skills they work unitedly to support you during your time at university and beyond.

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  • Opportunities to engage with guest lecturers and ask questions
  • Focused speaking and listening sessions that replicate authentic university experiences. E.g. Question formation and listening to recorded university lectures.
  • Interact with a range of audio material and identify the main points, supporting ideas and key information.

Being understood is more important than adopting an accent. Pronunciation means more than that. Techniques such as word stress and intonation can dramatically change the meaning of a phrase and make it easier for your listener to understand.

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  1. Listening to a wide range of anglophone speakers from around the world. Constructive feedback from your teacher and classmates
  2. Identifying words which a speaker has chosen to stress and explain its effect. Constructive feedback from your teacher and classmates
  3. Participating in practice and assessed presentations to exercise good quality pronunciation techniques.
  4. Track your development using your learning portfolio and uploading video and audio evidence weekly.

Delivering effective presentations, a valuable skill which may be used in your professional life beyond university, now forms a necessary part of the university’s assessment schedule.

  • How confident would you feel delivering a group presentation?
  • Would you know how to transition between one person to another?
  • What about signposting language?


The aim of the pre-sessional is to promote high quality presentations with interesting content, clear structures, and confident delivery.

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  • Focus on the language and structure of academic presentations
  • One of your first activities will be to create a short 2-minute introductory presentation so you can get to know your teacher and classmates before you start.
  • Plan and deliver in-class presentations to your teacher and peers for feedback.
  • Gain an understanding of how to help your listener understand and follow your presentation: forward and backward referencing, transitional and signposting language

Working cooperatively, sharing ideas and listening to those of others is an integral part of a seminar atmosphere.

  • Learn how to share your thoughts in an objective way
  • Justify your reasoning with evidence
  • Take onboard what other people have said and reach a compromise in some cases.
  • Challenge what others have said in a professional manner
  • Form questions that encourage skilfully arranged answers.


The aim of the pre-sessional is to provide you with authentic seminar experiences similar in nature to those on your prospective degree programmes

Pre-Sessional in Action:

  • Participate in seminar-based discussions and be provided with feedback on how your seminar skills are developing.
  • Timetabled focus sessions on seminar skills in addition to 1:1 tutorials with your tutor.

Each pre-sessional course requires full-time attendance, 5 days a week, in addition to independent study time. Ulster University’s own Centre for English Language Teaching (CELT) is responsible for designing and delivering your course.

The CELT team have a wealth of experience in helping international students succeed. Students are guided and supported through their pre-sessional courses by caring, expert teachers

There are two pre-sessional English language courses available. The length of the course you will need to study depends on your current level of English and the entry requirements of your chosen degree.

Degree entry requirement is *UKVI IELTS 6.0 (Academic) overall (with no band score less than 5.5)



Pre-sessional course Your current overall IELTS score or equivalent Course dates (2023) Tuition fee Application closing date (2023)
12 weeks
5.0 (Only 1 band score acceptable at 4.5)
15 June - 8 September
28 April 2023
7 weeks
5.5 (Only 1 band score acceptable at 5.0)
19 July - 8 September
2 June 2023


If you require a student visa you must take an IELTS for UKVI (Academic) or equivalent test at an approved UKVI centre only.

  • IELTS for UKVI
  • LanguageCert International SELT
  • PTE Academic UKVI
  • Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI’ – Integrated Skills in English (ISE)

Course Timetable

Day Morning (BST) Afternoon (BST) Students own time
Reading and Writing
Listening and Speaking
Guided independent study
Reading and Writing
Listening and Speaking
Guided independent study
Reading and Writing
Portfolio Development
Guided independent study
Reading and Writing
Seminar Skills
Guided independent study
Reading and Tutorials
Guided independent study

Note: timetable may be subject to change.

  • You will be assessed by both tests and coursework (a portfolio of your work throughout the programme)
  • All students will take the same assessments during the final weeks of the Pre-sessional course.
  • Students on the 12-week programme will have informal assessment throughout the course on grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation and reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
  • The ongoing formative assessments will highlight your progress as well as the areas you need to improve.
  • In addition to completing all required tasks, to successfully pass the pre-sessional, you must also have a minimum 90% attendance rate and your exit language level must meet the entry requirements for your chosen programme of study at Ulster.
  • At the end of your studies, a report is sent to your Course Director.

How to apply

If you already have an offer to study please submit an online application form and we will contact you to complete your application.

Applications for September 2023 will open soon.

    Register your interest in the programme.

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