The Pre-Sessional Period

For the last few years Butler College has been the host of the Pre-Sessional students for Durham University. These students are Internationals who partake in an English Language course over the summer before starting their degrees. Many students move on to their respective Colleges for the year after completing the Pre-Sessional course, and with just a few days of them left in our College I thought it would be nice to talk about some of the activities that have happened over the summer.

Because Durham University is so special in its Collegiate system, when the Pre-Sessional students attend this course the University wants to display not just its academic prowess but also the social aspects that College life offers. Butler has employed Pre-Sessional Reps over the summer, who have been fantastic in organising trips and events as well as running book clubs and planning formals and a final ball! There has been a few challenges over the course, namely with the switch of the Pre-Sessional Support Officer half way through the summer, but overall it seems like every student has really enjoyed and benefitted from the experience of being at Butler.


Welcome Formal for the first arivals just after the meal

There were 3 different arrivals of students, those that partook in a 12 week course, those on an 8 week course and a final arrival on a 4 week course, bringing the total number of Pre-Sessional students to over 540 which is the biggest number of students so far! By the last arrival all of Butler’s accommodation was full so many of these students were housed in either Trevs College or Brooks House accommodation. Living outside of Butler did not stop people getting involved though and all events and trips had an outstanding turnout.

Farewell Ball at the end of the Pre-Sessional course

Farewell Ball at the end of the Pre-Sessional course

Each week had a similar structure with Monday being book club, Tuesday mentor night, Wednesday sign ups, Friday bar nights, Saturday trips and Sunday sport. The bar activities included Ceilidhs, Karaoke, Film nights and Formal dinners. Each weekend a fleet of coaches transported the students all over the Country, visiting the Metrocentre, Whitby, York, Manchester and Edinburgh. All events and trips received hugely positive feedback, with many students asking for more!

Ceilidh in the Howlands

Ceilidh in the Howlands

Karaoke night in the bar

Karaoke night in the bar

Butler also hosted a series of lectures in the bar, with the hope of promoting what academic opportunities Colleges can provide as well the social aspects. The lectures started with a talk on the Harry Potter module held at Durham. This was followed by a lecture on Globalization, and finally there was a lecture from one of our new Resident Tutors (Ruth Houghton) on International Law. The vast range of activities that Butler has put on for the Pre-Sessionals has been incredible in terms of showcasing possibly the greatest aspect of Durham life, in that there is something for everyone to get involved with.

Coach trip to Edinburgh

Coach trip to Edinburgh

On a personal level I have learnt a huge amount this summer from the Pre-Sessional students. Whether it was learning some new recipes from living with a number of different cultures, to experiencing Manchester for the first time with a group who were just as lost as I was. The entire extravaganza that was this summer has resulted in many friendships being forged with students who will be moving onto other Colleges very soon, and hopefully these relationships can be used to strengthen the links that Butler has throughout the University.

Conga line during the Ents of the second Welcome Formal

Conga line during the Ents of the second Welcome Formal

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the Pre-Sessional students, the Reps, and all of the staff and external people associated with the course. It is not a summer I am likely to forget and I hope that this feeling is reciprocated throughout all those who have attended the course.


About butleralumni

The Butler Alumni blog is aimed at all alumni of Josephine Butler College, Durham University. We aim to keep you in the loop with interesting interviews with alumni and current Butler students, reviews of Butler events and updates on what is going on in both the College and alumni communities. The blog is edited and managed by the Alumni Relations Assistant, Sally Crawford, but she is always looking for ideas or volunteer writers to help make the posts more interesting and interactive! If you're interested in contributing to the blog, Sally would be thrilled to hear from you at
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