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Durham University is a university in Durhammarker, Englandmarker. It was founded as the University of Durham (which remains its official and legal name) by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837. It was one of the first universities to open in England for more than 600 years, and is claimed to be England's third oldest after Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker (although other higher education institutions also make this claim – see third oldest university in England debate).

"Long established as a leading alternative to Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker", the University attracts "a largely middle-class student body" according to the Times Good University Guide. Durham is a collegiate university, with its main functions divided between the central departments of the University and 16 colleges. In general, the departments perform research and provide centralised lectures to students, while the colleges are responsible for the domestic arrangements and welfare of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral researches and some University staff. Colleges decide which students they are to admit, and appoint their own fellows (senior members). In Durham, "the university" often refers to the University as opposed to the colleges.

According to the latest University League Table 2010 published by The Complete University Guide, Durham is ranked 5th in the UK after Oxfordmarker, Cambridgemarker, Imperial Collegemarker and LSEmarker.The University was also named Sunday Times University of the Year in 2005, having previously been shortlisted for the award in 2004.

The Chancellor of the University is Bill Bryson, appointed by the University's Convocation on 4 April 2005.The post-nominal letters of graduates have "Dunelm" attached to indicate the university.



Durham Castle houses University College, making it the oldest inhabited university building in the world.

The strong tradition of theological teaching in Durham gave rise to various attempts to form a university there, notably under King Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, who issued letters patent and nominated a proctor and fellows for the establishment of a college in 1657. However, there was deep concern expressed by Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker that the awarding of degree powers could hinder their position. Consequently, it was not until 1832 when Parliamentmarker, at the instigation of Archdeacon Charles Thorp and with the support of the Bishop of Durham, William van Mildert, passed "an Act to enable the Dean and Chapter of Durham to appropriate part of the property of their church to the establishment of a University in connection therewith" to fund a new university, that the University actually came into being. Accommodation was provided in the Archdeacon's Inn from 1833 to 1837 when an order of the Queen-in-Council was issued granting the use of Durham Castlemarker (previously the Bishop's palace) as a college of the university. The Act received Royal Assent and became law on 4 July 1832. The University's Royal Charter was granted on 1 June 1837 by William IV, with the first students graduating a week later.

19th century

Hatfield College, the second oldest college
In 1846, Bishop Hatfield's Hall (later to become Hatfield Collegemarker) was founded, providing for the opportunity for students to obtain affordable lodgings with fully-catered communal eating. Those attending University Collegemarker were expected to bring a servant with them to deal with cooking, cleaning and so on. Elsewhere, the University expanded from Durham into Newcastlemarker in 1852 when the medical school there (established in 1834) became a college of the University. This was joined in 1871 by the College of Physical Sciences (renamed the College of Science in 1884 and again renamed Armstrong College in 1904). St Cuthbert's Societymarker was founded in 1888 to cater for non-resident students in Durham (although now mainly caters for resident students), while two teacher-training colleges — St Hild's for women, established in 1858, and The College of the Venerable Bede for men, established in 1839, also existed in the city. These merged to form a mixed college (the College of St Hild and St Bedemarker) in 1975. From 1896 these were associated with the University and graduates of St Hild were the first female graduates from Durham in 1898.

In 1842 the Durham Union Societymarker was set up as a forum for debates, the first of which took place in the reading rooms in Hatfield Hall. It also served as the students' union (hence the name) until Durham Colleges Students' Representative Council was founded in 1899, thus separating into two independent bodies, the DSU and DUS (it was later renamed Durham Students' Unionmarker in 1963).

For most of the 19th century, University of Durham degrees were subject to a religion test and could only be taken by members of the established church. This situation lasted until the Universities Tests Act 1871. However, "dissenters" were able to attend Durham and then receive degrees of the University of London, which were not subject to any religious test, on completing their course. Following the grant of a supplemental charter in 1895 allowing women to receive degrees of the University, the Women's Hostel (St Mary's Collegemarker from 1919) was founded in 1899.

20th century

St Chad's College, one of the two independent colleges
The Newcastle division of the University, in particular Armstrong College, quickly grew to outnumber the Durham colleges, despite the addition of two Anglican foundations: St Chad's Collegemarker (1904) and St John's Collegemarker (1909). A parliamentary bill proposed in 1907 would have fixed the seat of the University in Durham for only ten years, allowing the Senate to choose to move to Newcastle after this. This was blocked by a local MP, with the support of graduates of the Durham colleges, until the bill was modified to establish a federal university with its seat fixed in Durham. This reform also removed the University from the authority of the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedralmarker, who had nominally been in charge of the University since its foundation. Thirty years after this, the Royal Commission of 1937 recommended changes in the constitution of the federal University, resulting in the merger of the two Newcastle colleges to form King's College. The Vice-Chancellorship alternated between the Warden of the Durham Colleges and the Rector of King's. (The legacy of this lives on, in that the titular head of the University is still called "The Vice-Chancellor and Warden.")

St Aidan's College, located on Elvet hill

After the Second World War, the Durham division expanded rapidly. St Aidan's Society (St Aidan's Collegemarker from 1965) was founded in 1947 to cater for non-resident women and the decision was made to expand onto Elvet Hill, vastly expanding the existing pure science provision in Durham, and adding applied science and engineering.

In 1947, the foundation stones for the new St Mary's College building on Elvet Hill were laid by Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II). The new building opened in 1952, and is said to be the last government funded university building to have been built in stone. In the same year, tensions surfaced again over the Durham-Newcastle divide, with a proposal to change the name of the University to the 'University of Durham and Newcastle' (or as some wag put it 'the University of Durham and Newcastle United'). This motion was defeated in Convocation (the assembly of members of the University) by 135 votes to 129. Eleven years later, with the Universities of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne Act 1963, King's College became the University of Newcastle upon Tynemarker, leaving Durham University based solely in its home city.

By this time, the Elvet Hill site was well established, with the first of the new colleges, Grey Collegemarker (named after the second Earl Grey, who was the Prime Minister when the University was founded) being founded in 1959. Expansion up Elvet Hill continued, with Van Mildert Collegemarker and the Durham Business Schoolmarker (1965), Trevelyan Collegemarker (1966) and Collingwood Collegemarker (1972) all being added to the University, along with a botanic gardenmarker (1970).

These were not the only developments in the University, however. The Graduate Society, catering for postgraduate students, was founded in 1965 (renamed Ustinov Collegemarker in 2003) and the Roman Catholic seminary of Ushaw College, which had been in Durham since 1808, was licensed as a hall of residence in 1968. By 1990, the last male-only college became mixed, leaving St Mary's as the last single-sex college.

Queen's Campus, Stockton

Ebsworth Building
In 1992 a joint venture between the University and the University of Teessidemarker saw the Joint University College on Teesside of the Universities of Durham and Teesside (JUCOT) established at Thornaby-on-Teesmarker in the borough of Stockton-on-Teesmarker, to the south of Durham. This was initially intended to grant joint degrees validated by both institutions (BA and BScs). However, Teesside, which had only become a university in 1992, had difficulties in taking on its responsibilities for the college and Durham took full control of the new college in 1994.

A programme of integration with Durham began, leading to the college becoming University College, Stockton (UCS) in 1996 — a college of the University of Durham. Further integration led to the campus being renamed the University of Durham, Stockton Campus (UDSC) in 1998, removing teaching responsibilities from the College. In 2001, two new colleges, John Snow and George Stephenson (after the physician and the engineer) were established at Stockton, replacing UCS, and the new medical school (which operates in association with the University of Newcastle upon Tynemarker) took in its first students — the first medics to join Durham since 1963. In 2002, her golden jubilee year, the Queen granted the title "Queen's Campus" to the Stockton site.

As of 2005 Queen's Campus, Stockton accounts for around 18% of the total university student population. This is likely to increase in coming years thanks to future expansion plans.In 2007 the campus cafeteria, "The Waterside Room", was renovated and now serves as the campus student bar. In contrast to Durham college bars, it is run by the University and not a JCR or DSU.

A curious fact about Queen's Campus, Stockton, is that it is located on the south bank of the River Teesmarker within Thornaby-on-Teesmarker. For centuries the Tees formed the historical division between the historic counties of Yorkshiremarker and Durham, with Thornaby-on-Tees being one of the most northern towns in Yorkshire. With the creation of the county borough of Teessidemarker in 1968 areas both north and south of the river were removed from their administrative counties. Teesside itself was engulfed into the County of Clevelandmarker in 1974. Yet another local government change in 1996 saw the breakup of the county of Cleveland into the current four unitary authorities of Middlesbroughmarker, Hartlepoolmarker, Redcar and Clevelandmarker & Stockton-on-Teesmarker. With this latest reorganisation Thornaby-On-Tees became part of the borough of Stockton-on-Tees, however the town of Stockton-on-Tees itself is located on the north ("County Durham") side of the river. The upshot of all this is that a significant proportion of Durham University is actually located within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, rather than County Durham. Adding to the confusion, plans exist to expand the campus on to the north bank of the River Tees, splitting the campus between the two ceremonial counties.

Recent developments

In 2005 the University unveiled a re-branded logotype and renamed itself as "Durham University". The news was poorly received among many academic and student members of the university, with Van Mildert JCR going as far as boycotting the new name and logo. However, the official name of the institution remains the University of Durham and the official coat of arms is unchanged.

In the last half of the 20th century, the number of students at the university has grown considerably, and continues to grow with the addition of Queen's Campus, Stockton. The more recent rises are in line with government policy of increasing access to higher education. In 1989 the University started its fund-raising and alumni office, with a virtual community for alumni and several large gifts made to the University, including for the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, the Department of Physics and the Wolfson Research Institutemarker. In 2006 Josephine Butler Collegemarker, opened at the Howlands Farm site on Elvet Hill. This was the first new college to open in Durham itself since the 1970s, at the creation of Collingwood. The University's Strategic Plan through to 2010 is at the University's web site. In 2005, St. Mary's Collegemarker had its first mixed undergraduate intake. In October 2006, Josephine Butler Collegemarker, a long-standing development, opened its doors to students as Durham's newest college; the only purpose-built self catering college for students within Durham.

In July 2009 the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a strategic partnership with Durham University, following Yale Universitymarker and National University of Singaporemarker, to create a global network of twelve leading research universities for delivering his Faith and Globalization Initiative in association with Tony Blair Faith Foundation.


Durham University owns a 227.8 hectare (ha) estate which includes a UNESCO world heritage site, one ancient monument, five grade-one listed building and 68 grade two-listed buildings along with 44.9 ha of woodland. The estate is divided into two campuses: Durham City and Queens Campus, Stockton. The two campuses are connected via a free bus service that runs frequently throughout the week. One of the major public attractions on the Durham Campus is the 7.3 ha Botanic Gardensmarker, established in 1970, with over 78,000 visitors (2007/08).

Durham City

Durham City is the main campus of the university and contains 14 of the 16 colleges along with most of the academic departments. The Durham City campus is itself divided into several different sites The Science site contains the vast majority of departments and large lecture theatres such as Appleby, Scarborough, James Duff, Heywood and more recently the Calman Learning Centre, along with the Main University library. Mountjoy contains the Psychology and Biological & Biomedical schools, along with various research centres. The Old Elvet area contains a number of departments in Humanities and Social Sciences including Philosophy, Anthropology and Sociology. It is also the current site of the University's administration in Old Shire Hall, although it is planned to move to Mountjoy, and the Bailey, which is home to the Law School, Music, Philosophy, Classics & Ancient History and Theology along with the Bailey collegesmarker.

Queen's Campus

Queen's Campus was established in 1992 and is located in the town of Stockton-on-Teesmarker some 30 minutes away from the Durham City Campus. The campus is home to around 2,000 full-time students, two residential colleges (John Snow and Stephenson Colleges) and the Wolfson Research Institutemarker. There are currently a limited number of subjects studied at Queen's Campus. Current subjects are: Medicine (shared with Newcastle University), Biomedical Sciences, degrees in Accounting, Business and Finance, Applied Psychology, Primary education and Human Sciences. The University has recently purchased a site on the North bank of Stockton and has plans to develop the academic structure at Queens and the possibility of a new college.

Libraries and museums

The Main Library building on the Science Site
The Durham University Librarymarker system holds over 1.5 million printed items. The library was founded in January 1833 at Palace Greenmarker by a 160-volume donation by the then Bishop of Durham, William Van Mildert. The library operates four branches: Main library, Education Library, Queen's Campus Library and the Palace Green Library which holds the special and heritage collections. The Bishop Cosin's Library (contains over 5,000 medieval titles) and the Sudan Archive ("the pre-eminent archive on the Sudan outside Khartoummarker") of the central library were granted Designation Status in 2005 by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

In addition to the central library system, each College maintains its own library and reading rooms such as the Bettenson, Brewis, Williams and Fenton Libraries of St Chad's College, which contain over 38,000 volumes. Many departments also maintain a library in addition to the subject collections in the central and college libraries.

Built in the 1960s the University's Oriental Museummarker grew predominantly from the acquisitions of the University's former School of Oriental Studies Initially housed across the University and used as a teaching collection, the size of the collection lead to the building of the current museum to house the material. The collection to date contains over 30,000 objects from Asian art to antiquities, covering the Orient and Levant to the Far East and the Indian Sub-continent, with over a 1/3 of the collection relating to China. The national importance of the Chinese and Egyptian collections can been seen in the Designated Status from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council achieved in 2008.

The Old Fulling Millmarker is the University's Museum of Archaeology. The museum was opened in 1833 being the second University museum in England to allow admittance to the general public. The museum focuses on the heritage of the North East of England with collections spanning the prehistoric, to Ancient Greek and Roman to the Anglo Saxon periods, although the key collection is that of the Medieval & Post Medieval period.


Academic year

The academic year is divided into 3 terms. Michaelmas Term lasts ten weeks from October to December; Epiphany Term lasting nine weeks from January to March; and Easter Term lasting nine weeks from April to July. Within Michaelmas term, the academic week begins on a Thursday with lectures starting on the first Thursday of October and ending on a Wednesday. All other terms begin their academic week on a Monday. Internally the weeks are classed as "Durham Weeks" with the first week of Michaelmas starting at week 10.

Students at the University are also expected to "Keep Term", whereby students must fulfil their academic requirements at the University. As such Heads of Departments must be satisfied that each student has attended all necessary tutorials, seminars and practical work throughout the term and vacation period.

Entrance to St Cuthbert's Society


Durham operates a collegiate structure a little like the University of Oxfordmarker and the University of Cambridgemarker, in that all the colleges at Durham are "listed bodies" under the Education Reform Act, 1988, "recognised by the UK authorities as being able to offer courses leading to a degree of a recognised body" (the "recognised body" being, in this case, the federal University). Though most of the Durham colleges are governed and owned directly by the University itself, and so do not enjoy the independence of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, the status of the Durham colleges is similar to those in Oxford and Cambridge and the constituent institutions of the University of Wales, setting Durham colleges apart from those at the universities of Kent, Lancaster, and York. However, unlike at Oxford, Cambridge, Wales, and London, there is no formal teaching at most Durham colleges (although St John's, St Chad's and Ushaw College have their own academic and research staff and offer college-based programmes in conjunction with the University). The colleges dominate the residential, social, sporting, and pastoral functions within the university, and there is heavy student involvement in their operation.

Formal dinners (known as "formals") are held at many colleges; gowns are worn to these events at some colleges. There is a great deal of intercollegiate rivalry, particularly in rowing and other sporting activities. There is also rivalry between the older colleges of the Baileymarker and the newer colleges of the Hill.


The University holds the powers to award degrees under the Royal Charter of 1837, extended to include the power to award degrees to women under the Supplementary Charter of 1895. However, the rules governing how the University is constituted are to be found in the Statutes put in place by the Universities of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne Act, 1963, and subsequently amended by the Privy Council. The Statutes provide that: "The University shall be governed by a Visitor, Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Convocation, Council, Senate, and Boards of Studies."

The Visitor for the University of Durham is the Bishop of Durham. The Visitor is the final arbiter of any dispute within the University, except in those areas where legislation has removed this to the law courts or other ombudsmen, or in matters internal to the two non-maintained colleges (St Chad's College and St John's College), each of which has its own Visitor. Student complaints and appeals were heard by the Visitor until the Higher Education Act 2004 came into force. All student complaints are now heard by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

The current Chancellor of the University is the Bill Bryson. The current Vice-Chancellor is Chris Higgins. The office of Chancellor, which is held for five years and renewable, is mainly ceremonial, while the Vice-Chancellor is de facto the principal academic and administrative officer.

Convocation is the assembly of members of the University. It consists of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and Pro-Vice-Chancellors, all graduates, the teaching staff (lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, and professors), and the heads of colleges and licensed halls of residence. It must meet once each year in order to hear the Vice-Chancellor's Address and to debate any business relating to the University. Further meetings can be called if representation is made by a minimum of 50 members. Its powers are limited to appointing the Chancellor (and even then, only on the nomination of Council and Senate) and the making of representations to the University on any business debated.

Council is the executive body of the University. In addition to representatives from the University it includes the Dean of Durham Cathedral and representatives of the alumni, the Students' Union and the local councils. Its powers include establishing and maintaining colleges, and recognising non-maintained colleges and licensed halls of residence. Senate is the supreme governing body of the University in academic matters. It nominates the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellors to Council, and recommends the establishment of Faculties and Boards of Studies. It is Senate that grants degrees, and has the authority to revoke them. It also regulates the use of academic dress of the University.

Schools and faculties

The teaching departments of the University are divided into three faculties: Science, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences and Health. Each faculty has a Dean and one or more Deputy Deans. These, along with the heads of the departments in the faculty, the Vice-Chancellor, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, make up the Faculty Board for that faculty. Each department also has a Board of Studies consisting of the Dean and Deputy Dean of their faculty, the teaching staff of the department, and student representatives. See also Natural Sciences, one of the largest degree programmes.

Faculty of Social Science & Health
  • Department of Anthropology
  • School of Applied Social Sciences
  • Department of Archaeology
  • Durham Business Schoolmarker
    (Including the Economic, Finance and Business Departments)
  • School of Education
  • Department of Geography
  • School of Government and International Affairs
    (Including the Politics department and the Institute for Middle East and Islamic Studies)
  • School of Medicine and Health
  • Durham Law Schoolmarker

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
  • Department of Classics & Ancient History
  • Department of English
  • Department of History
  • School of Modern Languages and Cultures
    (Includes Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish Departments)
  • Department of Music
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of Theology and Religion

Faculty of Science



Durham, together with Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker, is among those universities that have adopted a special formulae that gives a rating to the GCSE performance of every school in the UK to “weight” the scores of university applicants. The average UCAS point score for each student was 453.4 points (2007/08) which places Durham University 6th in the country (after Cambridgemarker, Oxfordmarker, London School of Economicsmarker, Imperial Collegemarker and Warwickmarker) in terms of entry requirements. Durham's student body consists of 11,409 undergraduates and 4,098 graduate and students (2007/08). Durham's demographic consists of 85.7% arriving from a middle and higher classes background which is the 5th highest result in the UK. 47.27% of the undergraduate student body for 2007/2008 arrived from either a grammar school or independent school 12.24% of full time students are of ethnic minorities and 51.32% are female. For the undergraduate class of 2007, Durham received 29,712 applications, of which 36.8% were from Independent schools and 9.2% from ethnic minorities, overall 46.6% of applicants were successful in receiving an offer of admissions. Durham requires students applying for degrees in Law to sit the LNAT admission test and the UKCAT for the MBBS in Medicine. Durham also runs the Durham Gifted and Talented Summer School at Van Mildert College in the University and takes part in the Duke Universitymarker TIP Summer Studies Programme as part of its widening access policy.

Research Profile

The University is part of the 1994 Group, Virgo Consortium and the N8 Group of Universities. Durham was ranked eighteenth for quality of research out of 124 of the institutions which took part in the UK Funding Councils' 2001 Research Assessment Exercise in the Guardian's unofficial ranking. Nearly 87% of the University's academic staff are located in departments with top research ratings of 5 or 5* , with Durham's research averaging a 5 rating — "international excellence in more than half of the research activity submitted and attainable levels of national excellence in the remainder". In terms of individual academic departments, the Department of Geography is considered one of the best in the United Kingdom and a world leader in many research areas, gaining a 5* rating. Other subjects that gained a 5* rating in the RAE were Applied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, English, History, and Law.

The latest national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) sponsored by the UK government, The Times, Guardian and The Independent rank Durham as joint-thirteenth by grade point average and twelfth by quality index across the thirty units of assessment it submitted. The RAE results also rank Durham as the UK's top university with Archaeology, Geography, Theology & Divinity being ranked as first. Over 60.9% of research was given a 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent) grading and 91.6% falling within the 4*, 3* and 2* (international quality) bands. Additionally, Durham ranks 1st amongst the members of the 1994 group as the most research intensive University (when taking into account both the quality and volume of research activity at 4* and 3* grades).

Furthermore, Durham's Physics Department's research into Space Science and Astrophysics was rated as number one in Europe and fourth in the world by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators (1998–2008). Alongside the Times Higher Education Supplement's citation rankings placed Durham as the number 1 university in the UK for its impact of scientific research in 2005.

Reputation & Rankings

According to the latest league tables of British universities many courses of Durham University are among the best in the country with English being ranked as the number 1 in the UK:
  • Durham is in the Top 3 Universities (including English) for Archaeology, Chemistry, French, General Engineering, Geography, History, Iberian Languages, Italian, Theology & Religious Studies;
  • Durham is in the Top 5 Universities (including former mentioned subjects) for Biological Sciences, German, Classics & Ancient History, Mathematics, Middle Eastern & African Studies, Philosophy, Physics & Astronomy, Russian & East European Languages, Social Work, Sociology, Sports Science;
  • Durham is in the Top 10 Universities (including former mentioned subjects) for Accounting & Finance, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Economics, Education, Geology, Law, Linguistics, Medicine, Music, Politics, Sociology.

World rankings of universities have placed Durham as follows:

In April, 2009 Durham Business Schoolmarker joined an elite group of academic institutions worldwide who are accredited by the three major bodies – AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS. In 2008, the MA Management programme was ranked 34th in the world by the Financial Times' European Masters Ranking along with the MBA program being ranked 80th in the world and the Executive MBA being ranked 83rd in the world by the 2008 Financial Times EMBA Ranking.

Durham was ranked 12th overall in the Sunday Times University Guide's cumulative table over ten years of study (1997–2007), along with being a member of the 'Sutton 13' of top ranked Universities in the UK.

Durham is also one of the few to have won University Challenge more than once. Teams from Durham won University Challenge in both 1977 and 2000.

See also: League tables of British universities
UK University Rankings]]
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
Good University

8th 8th 9th 10th 10th= 8th 10th 13th 15th 16th 16th 18th 13th 8th 12th= 5th= 10th 11th=
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7th 8th 11th 11th 8th 9th 11th 16th 13th 9th 11th= 10th 10th
Complete University Guide
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5th 6th 10th
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FT 28th 18th 24th 32nd
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2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
THES - QS World University Rankings 103rd 122th 109th 132nd 83th 128th N/A
Academic Ranking of World Universities 152–200th 152–200th 151–202th 151–200th 203–300th 202–301th 152–200th
Global University Ranking 70-71st N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Student life

Residential life

Durham requires its students to live in college for the first year of their undergraduate life, with students ‘living-out’ in their second year and then having the option to move back into college, usually via a ballot system. The Colleges provide a key role in the pastoral care and social centre of students with each running a college tutorial system, along with JCR providing events and societies for undergraduate members, MCR being a centre for postgraduate students and the SCR for the college officers, fellows and tutors. Each college has a unique identity and a variety of facilities for students ranging from computer rooms and libraries to tennis courts and gyms. Most colleges have their own sports teams and compete in the collegiate leagues such as Durham College Rowing and have their own theatre company and orchestra which operate parallel to the university level sports teams and organizations.

Student organizations and media

Approximately 130 student clubs and organizations run on Durham's campus. These include numerous student government, special interest, and service organizations. Durham Students' Unionmarker (DSU) charters and provides most of the funding for these organizations, and represents students' interests when dealing with the administration. The DSU also operates events based in Dunelm house ranging from club nights such as Planet of Sound, Revolver (alternative & indie), Twisted (underground electronic) and the Jazz café. The DSU also runs a Comedy Café, Fresher's Ball, Silent Discos and Vintage fashion fair amongst others.

Palatinatemarker, Durham's independent student run fortnightly newspaper, has been continually published since 1948. Notable former editors include George Alagiah, Hunter Davies, Piers Merchant, Timothy Laurence, Jeremy Vine and Harold Evans. Purple Radiomarker is the online radio station founded in 2005 and is the University recognised radio station. The station operates from Dunelm House and is run by student volunteers. Student views and opinions are represented by Durham21, an independent student website, founded in 2001, which has won the NUS Website of the Year Award in five of the last six years and is also the current holder.

Civic engagement

Durham's Student Community Action (SCA) oversees 45 volunteer projects in Durham and the surrounding area. Examples include mentoring GCSE and A Level students, a week long ‘Child Achievement Through Student Support’ programme that aims to help children on the ‘at risk’ register, to help with gardening and decorating for the elderly, and sports coaching.

DUCK - Durham University Charity Kommittee (DUCK)

Durham University Charity Kommittee or DUCK is the university's equivalent of student's rag week. Original set-up as a week event, DUCK has become a permanent feature in raising money for local or national charities with events taking place throughout the year. Activities take place with-in each college as well as centrally with events such as Back 2 School club nights, Raft Races, Firewalks and Rag Raids to the Jailbreak hitch hike, sky dives and the three and five peaks challenge. DUCK also organises expeditions to the Himalayas, Jordan and Mount Kilamanjaro to raise money as well being involved in the University run ‘Project Sri Lanka’ and ‘Project Thailand’.

In July 2009 DUCK partnered with internaional NGO Coral Cay Conservation.

Team Durham Community Outreach is a sports community programme aimed at giving support and opportunities through the use of sport. The programme runs projects such as Summer Camps for children from the Youth Engagement Service and fostered backgrounds along with providing coaching at local schools as well as participating in sports in action.


Charity cricket match at the racecourse
Sport at Durham is a key tenant to student life with some 85% of students regularly taking part. The 50 university level sport clubs are organised by Team Durham with many being predominantly based at the Graham Sports Centre at Maiden Castle which has 26 courts and pitches for sports ranging from rugby to lacrosse to netball, additional facilities include eleven boat houses and two astroturfs a fitness studio and weights room. The university also owns The Racecoursemarker which has a further eight courts and pitches for cricket, rugby (union and league), squash and football.

The University is recognised as a Centre of Cricketing Excellence (which is one of only six to play first-class matches) by the England and Wales Cricket Board and subsequentially the Marylebone Cricket Club along with rowing and fencing also being recognised as centres of excellence. Durham also host the House of Sport which includes an English Institute of Sport hub site and being a British Olympic passport holder's site. Durham was ranked joint 4th across all sports by the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) in 2007/8. It is also the current BUSA rowing champion, which Durham has won for the past six years.

Durham University is one of three universities to compete in the Doxbridge Tournament, a sporting competition between Durham University, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The Durham University Boat Club also competes in the Durham Regatta and the Northumbrian Water University Boat Race against Newcastle University, which it has only lost once in its 12 year history.

Music and drama

Durham has a thriving theatre scene, with the main society (Durham Student Theatre) comprising of over 600 active members. Each week of term the university's own theatre The Assembly Rooms hosts a student production, but it is by no means the only venue where productions are held. College quads, the castle chapel and in the summer, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, are all other popular choices to put on shows. More than 25 individual theatre companies make up DST; all of which have a reputation for producing extremely high-quality and varied theatre. One such company are the established Durham University Light Opera Group (DULOG) who produce four musicals per year, the highlight being at the Gala Theatre in the second term. Since 1975 the university has played host to the Durham Drama Festival.

Music is also a high-ranking activity in Durham, particularly marked by the Durham University Chamber Choir and Orchestral Societies.The Durham Cathedral Choir offers seven scholarships to students of the University. Several of the colleges (University College, Hatfield, St Chad's, St John's and Hild-Bede) also offer organ and choral scholarships to prospective students.


See List of Durham University people

Durham alumni are active through organizations and events such as the annual Reunions, Dinners and Balls. There are 67 Durham associations ranging from international to college and sports affiliated groups that cater for the more than 109,000 living alumni. A number of Durham alumni have made significant contributions in the fields of government, law, science, academia, business, arts, journalism, and athletics, among others.

Sir Milton Margai, first prime minister of Sierra Leonemarker graduated with a medical degree in 1926, the 7th Queensland Premier John Douglas graduated with an Arts degree in 1850, Henry Holland, 1st Viscount Knutsford, Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1887 to 1892, graduated with a Laws degree in 1847, Herbert Laming, Baron Laming, head of the Harold Shipman inquiry and investigate Britain's social services following the death of Baby P, graduated in Applied Social Studies in 1960, along with Dame Caroline Swift, the lead counsel to the Shipman inquiry, further Mo Mowlam (Sociology and Anthropology), Edward Leigh (History), and Crispin Blunt (Politics) are among the most notable alumni with involvement in politics. Within the military graduates include General Sir Richard Dannatt (Economic History), the Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, Vice-Admiral Tim Laurence (Geography), Chief Executive of Defence Estates and husband to Princess Anne, and Rear-Admiral Amjad Hussain (Engineering, 1979) highest ranking officer from an ethnic minority in the British Armed Forces.

In the research realm, Durham graduates include Prof John D. Barrow (Mathematics and physics, 1974), winner of the Templeton Prize, Sir George Malcolm Brown (Chemistry & Geology, 1950), invited by NASA to work on the moon rock samples recovered from the Apollo 11 lunar mission, Prof George Rochester (1926), co-discoverer of the kaon sub-atomic particle, alongside Sir Harold Jeffreys (Mathematics, 1919), winner of the Royal Society's Copley Medal, and Sir Kingsley Charles Dunham (Geology, 1930) former director of the British Geological Survey. The current Vice-chancellors of Cardiff (David Grant, PhD, 1974), Durham (Chris Higgins, PhD, 1979), and Lancaster (Paul Wellings, MSc) are also graduates.

Several alumni hold top positions in the Business world. Richard Adams (Sociology), founder of fair trade organisation Traidcraft, Paul Hawkins (PhD in Artificial Intelligence), inventor of the Hawk-Eye ball-tracking system, Dame Elisabeth Hoodless (Sociology), Executive Director of Community Service Volunteers, Sir Nick Scheele (German, 1966), former President and Chief Operating Officer of Ford Motor Company, David Sproxton (Geography, 1976), co-founder of Aardman Animations who produce Wallace & Gromit, Tim Smit (Archaeology and Anthropology), co-founder of the Eden Projectmarker and David Walton (Economics and Mathematics, 1984), member of the Bank of Englandmarker's Monetary Policy Committee.

Prominent journalists and media specialists include Sir Harold Evans (Politics and Economics), editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981, Nigel Farndale (Philosophy), Sunday Telegraph journalist, and George Alagiah (Politics), presenter of the BBC News at Six. Matthew Amroliwala (Law and Politics, 1984) is the BBC News channel presenter and BBC one weekend news host. Biddy Baxter (1955) former producer of Blue Petermarker. Arthur Bostrom (BA Hons) most famous for his role as Officer Crabtree in the long-running BBC sitcom 'Allo 'Allo!. Jamie Campbell (English Literature) is a film maker, and also joins Alastair Fothergill (Zoology, 1983),series producer of The Blue Planet, Planet Earth and the director of Earth. Shelagh Fogarty (Modern Languages, 1988) current host of the BBC Radio 5 Live breakfast show alongside Lorraine Heggessey (English Language & Literature) the first female Controller of BBC One. Chris Terrill (Anthropology and Geography) documentary maker, writer and adventurer famous for being the only civilian to pass the Royal Marines Commando tests to gain an honorary green beret. Further BBC hosts who have graduated from Durham include Chris Hollins, sports presenter on BBC Breakfast, Gabby Logan (Law, 1995), Kate Silverton (Psychology), Jeremy Vine (English), Tim Willcox (Spanish) and Nina Hossain (English Language and Linguistics. Noted writers include Edward Bradley author of The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green, Minette Walters (French, 1971), author of The Sculptress and The Scold's Bridle and Graham Hancock (Sociology, 1973) author of The Sign and the Seal.

In the sports realm, former England rugby captains Will Carling (Psychology), Phil de Glanville (Economics), and vice-captain Will Greenwood (Economics, 1994), alongside Olympic gold-medal triple jumper Jonathan Edwards (Physics, 1987), the 1992 Olympic spare Wade Hall-Craggs (MBA), and Beijing Olympics Bronze-medal winner Stephen Rowbotham (Business Economics), former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain (Mathematics) and the current Captain Andrew Strauss are among the most famous.


  1. The University : Trading Name - Durham University
  2. The Sunday Times university of the year - Times Online
  3. Castle JCR
  4. Widening access without diluting quality - Times Online
  6. The University : Student Statistics - Durham University
  7. Van Mildert College JCR Minutes Retrieved on March 5, 2007
  9. The University : Strategy 2005-10 - Durham University
  11. News & Events : Current news releases - Durham University
  13. Recognised UK Degrees
  14. Section 20 of the Higher Education Act 2004
  16. RESEARCH~Subject~Subjects~Xinst/All~Xinst/All~~~2 | Interactive guides |
  18. Times Good University Guide Subject Tables 2005:Geography-
  19. Research : RAE 2001 - Durham University
  20. News & Events : News - Durham University
  21. University Challenge - Series Champions

Further reading

  • Booth, Ian G. (1979) The College of St. Hild and St. Bede, Durham. Durham: The College of St. Hild and St. Bede.
  • Boyd, Elizabeth B. (1999) St. Mary's College, University of Durham, 1899–1999: A Centenary Review. Durham: St. Mary's College.
  • Bradshaw, A. (1990) Van Mildert College: The First 25 Years, A Sketch.
  • Brickstock, Richard. (2007) Durham Castle: Fortress, Palace, College. Huddersfield: Jeremy Mills Publishing Ltd.
  • Bythell, Duncan. (1985) Durham Castle: University College, Durham. Norwich: Jarrold Colour Publications.
  • Craig, Amabel. (2009) FIDES NOSTRA VICTORIA: A Portrait of St John's College, Durham, Third Millennium Publishing
  • Fowler, Joseph Thomas (1904), Durham University: Earlier Foundations and Present Colleges, Kessinger Publishing
  • Heesom, Alan, (1982) The founding of the University of Durham, Durham Cathedral lecture 1982 (Durham, 1982)
  • Hird, Marilyn, ed. (1974) St. Mary's College, 1899–1974: An Account of the Women's Hostel 1899–1920 and Some Impressions of Later College Life. Durham: St. Mary's College Society.
  • Hird, Marilyn, ed. (1982) Doves & Dons: A History of St. Mary's College, Durham. An Account of the Women's Hostel 1899–1920 and Some Impressions of Later College Life. Durham: St. Mary's College.
  • Lawrence, Angel. (1958) St. Hild's College: 1858–1958. Darlington: William Dresser and Sons.

  • Jones, Edgar (1996), University College Durham: A Social History, Edgar Jones
  • Martin, Susan. (2006) Trevs: A Celebration of 40 Years. Durham: The Trevelyan Trust, Trevelyan College.
  • Moyes, W. A (1996), Hatfield 1846-1996: A history of Hatfield College in the University of Durham, Hatfield College Trust
  • Rodmell, Graham E. (1997) St Aidan's: From Home Students to Society to College. Durham: St. Aidan's College.
  • Tuck, Anthony. (1997) Collingwood College, University of Durham: A Jubilee History 1972–1997. Durham: Collingwood College.
  • Tudor, Henry. (1988) St Cuthbert's Society 1888-1988: The History of "a Modest but Exciting Institution in the University of Durham." Durham: St. Cuthbert's Society.
  • The Surtees Society, (1853) The Durham University Calender with Almanack, Durham: W. E. Duncan and Sons
  • Watson, Nigel. (2004) From the Ashes: The Story of Grey College, Durham. London: James & James Ltd.
  • Watson, Nigel (2007), Durham Difference: The Story of Durham University, James & James
  • Webster, Donald E. (1973) Bede College: A Commentary. Newcastle upon Tyne: J. & P. Bealls Ltd.
  • Whiting, C.E., (1932) The University of Durham 1832-1932 (London, 1932)
  • Whitworth, Thomas Anthony. (1971) Yellow Sandstone and Mellow Brick: An Account of Hatfield College, Durham 1846–1971
  • Yates, T.E. (2001) A College Remembered (second edition). Spennymoor, County Durham: MacDonald Press Ltd.

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