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About this pathway

The Pre-Masters in Law and Social Science prepares you for a choice of progression degrees at Durham University. When you have completed the programme and achieved the required grades, you can progress to a range of postgraduate degrees at Durham University.

Who is this programme for?

This programme is for international students looking to study a Masters degree in law or social sciences at Durham University.

  • Explore a wide range of topics through one of five distinctive routes: Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography, Law and Politics.
  • Improve your academic and English language skills needed for entry to your chosen Masters degree.
  • Gain the opportunity to progress to a large number of impressive postgraduate degrees at this world-renowned university.
  • Develop your ability to critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a range of research methods.
  • Engage in a new, culturally exciting community and enjoy studying abroad in the UK.

Key Facts


Entry Points:

  • September and January

Admissions information

If you do not meet the entry requirements for the Pre-Masters you can study one of our online English language preparation programmes. Find out about English language preparation.

What will you study?

Course structure

You will study core modules, which cover general skills, and designated modules that relate to your progression degree. This means your Pre-Masters programme will be tailored to the specific needs of your chosen degree.

Core modules

Academic English Skills aims to provide thorough training in the language and related academic skills which will enable international students to best achieve their academic potential at university. Our Academic English programme is validated by UK ENIC, the UK government agency responsible for providing information and expert opinion on qualifications and skills worldwide.

You will develop awareness and competency in a range of language-related academic skills, including the processes of academic writing, effective and extensive reading strategies, effective participation in seminars and delivery of presentations, and listening to and recording information effectively from lectures. You will also develop the accuracy and range of written and spoken language required to use language effectively and appropriately, with clarity and confidence in an academic context.

Alongside your classes, your studies will be supported by an online learning platform, providing you with a range of tasks and activities specifically designed to develop and extend your language and academic skills outside the classroom and to give you more control over your own learning.

In this module students concentrate on developing the critical skills specific to the reading and writing that will be required in their taught Masters degree programme. The course focuses on developing student criticality, fostering thorough scholarly skills and independent learning through the critical reading, analysis, evaluation and summary of authentic academic texts.

The aim of the Extended Research Project module is to help students develop the ability to undertake independent research and write longer pieces of academic work, displaying applied understanding of subject matter and an ability to critically analyse materials and concepts. Additionally, students will establish competency in research methods for use in a social science and/or a legal research context. Students will choose their research focus based on their pathway choice.

The Globalisation module will introduce students to the concept of globalisation through a consideration of the key agents and institutions active on the world stage. Students will engage with a variety of topics that constitute some of the core themes in globalisation debates. There will be a requirement to develop a critical awareness of various perspectives on globalisation from a political, cultural, economic and social viewpoint.

*Please note that this module is not part of the Law route or Data Science route.

This module provides students with a broad range of research tools and skills required for the social sciences. It aims to equip students with all aspects of the research process and to train them, through active participation, in a wide variety of research techniques

*Please note that this module is not part of the Law route.

Designated modules

Alongside core modules you will study designated modules that relate to your progression degree route. For example, if you are following a Law progression route, your elective modules will have a legal focus.

When you complete your Pre-Masters programme and achieve the required level, you can begin your postgraduate degree at Durham University.

Anthropology route

  • Studying Society with Anthropology
  • Human Culture and Diversity

Archaeology route

  • Introduction to Archaeological, Museum and Heritage Practice
  • Fundamentals of Archaeology 

Data Science route

  • Mathematics for Economics
  • Studying Society with Anthropology
  • Human Culture and Diversity

Geography route

  • Studying Society with Anthropology
  • Contemporary Issues in Politics/International Relations 

Law route*

  • Contemporary Issues in Politics/International Relations
  • Legal Skills and Methods
  • Fundamentals of Contract Law
  • Contemporary Issues in Law

Politics/International Relations route

  • Contemporary Issues in Politics/International Relations
  • Contemporary Issues in Law

TESOL route

  • Approaches and Methodologies in English Language Teaching
  • Studying Society with Anthropology

*Only available as a three-term option

Studying Society with Anthropology

This module will present students with the opportunity to comparatively evaluate material and approaches commonly used in Anthropology studies. Students will explore anthropological research methods and techniques, as well as the interpretation of different cultures, and finally critically analyse the results. Through this module, students will develop the independent research skills needed to succeed in the future.

Contemporary Issues in Law

In Contemporary Issues in Law, students will gain an overview of contemporary legal issues in a variety of areas of English Law. There will be many opportunities to discuss matters stemming from a range of recent legal issues, while also appreciating some of the long-standing industry arguments which continue to be debated. Students will address issues from varying perspectives, which will allow them to develop their critical thinking skills.

Contemporary Issues in Politics

The Contemporary Issues in Politics module will provide students with a wider contextual understanding of contemporary politics and international relations. Through the evaluation of key concepts and theories, this module will allow students to do a deeper analysis of a selected contemporary issue. Additionally, it will give students exposure to the issues of debate from a variety of perspectives, as they apply critical thinking skills to develop their own judgement.

Fundamentals of Archaeology

The Fundamentals of Archaeology will provide students with base-level knowledge of a range of scientific and historical techniques relevant to both contemporary and historical archaeology. Throughout this module, students will gain a core understanding of the key themes, sources and methods used in the study of archaeology, while developing the critical skills to effectively analyse the methods and techniques studied.

Fundamentals of Contract Law

Through this Fundamentals of Contract Law module, students will develop their knowledge and understanding of the key topics in Contract Law. Students will build on their preexisting understanding of how to use legal sources, statutory provisions and case law, specifically for key contractual concepts and principles.

Human Culture and Diversity

In Human Culture and Diversity, students will investigate fundamental concepts of socio-cultural anthropology through concepts such as culture, kinship, sex and gender, race and ethnicity. Critical analysis and evaluation of ethnographic studies will offer the opportunity for students to address issues of ethnocentrism, cultural relativity and their implications. Additionally, students will develop the independent research skills needed to succeed in the future.

Introduction to Archaeological, Museum and Heritage Practice

The Introduction to Archaeological, Museum and Heritage Practice module will familiarise students with the key themes in cultural heritage and archaeology, and require them to critically analyse the presentation of heritage in the UK. It will enable students to develop the skills to understand and evaluate the way that archaeology is presented through the use of a range of case studies of museums and archaeological sites.

Legal Skills and Methods

Legal Skills and Methods will introduce students to law and the legal system in England and Wales, developing their understanding of the sources of law and how they operate in the reality of the legal environment. Furthermore, students will learn about the practical application of some of the main sources of law and combine this with the development of skills in order to research these sources effectively.

Approaches and Methodologies in English Language Teaching 

The module provides an introduction to different approaches to English language teaching for speakers of other languages. It introduces students to the tools and resources they will use to evaluate current issues and key trends in language learning and teaching methodology in preparation for their postgraduate programme at Durham University.

Research Methods for Social Science

This module provides students with a broad range of research tools and skills required for the social sciences. It aims to equip students with all aspects of the research process and to train them, through active participation, in a wide variety of research techniques.

Mathematics for Economics

Though economics is technically a social science, students pursuing this field require a firm foundation in mathematics. This one-term module is not a study of economics, it is a review of the relevant mathematical skills required to aid the study of economics. The module content includes; Algebra and functions, Differentiation, Integration, Differential equations, Matrices and Lagrange's theorem.

Why study this programme?

Prepare for a world-class law or social sciences postgraduate degree at Durham University with this broad programme.

  • This Pre-Masters Programme offers 20+ progression degrees.
  • Durham University is ranked 10th in the world for Archaeology and 14th in the world for Geography (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023).
  • 8th in the UK for Law (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024).

Enhanced Induction

Join us in November 2023. Get a head start on your studies with our 3-week Enhanced Induction programme, designed to help you settle into your new home before starting your programme in January 2024 – all offered at no extra cost.

Learn more
Sumeya from Kenya

The International Study Centre has done a great job, allowing me to be more confident and interested, actually, in the course itself.

I needed a year to actually adjust. I didn’t want to throw myself right into the course in the first instance, because I felt, because it was a different country, I would need time to figure myself out before I finally started my degree.

Sumeya from Kenya
Studied International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Science
Now studying LLB (Hons) Law

Progression degrees

When you complete the Pre-Masters in Law and Social Science, and achieve the required grades, you can progress to one of the following postgraduate degrees at Durham University. (W refers to Writing):

Degree Programme NameAwardOverall GradeEnglish Grade
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How to apply

Ready to join us? Discover how to apply to study with us and learn more about fees, entry requirements and term dates.

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International Study Centre

Study alongside students from all over the world at Queen's Campus in Stockton-on-Tees. The International Study Centre provides a safe and nurturing place to prepare for your degree at Durham City Campus.

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English preparation

Our Online English Language Preparation courses develop your English skills in order for you to succeed on both your chosen pathway programme and your university degree.


Our student enrolment advisors are here to help with your application and answer any questions you have about studying with us.