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TSR Wiki > University > Choosing a University > University Guides > Durham University

Durham University was established as a University by an Act of Parliament in 1832, making it the third oldest university in England. It is situated mostly within the historic city of Durham in the North of England. Most of the university is situated just outside Durham city centre ("on the Hill"), but some older buildings are within the centre, many next to the cathedral and castle ("on the Bailey"). The university has consistently been held in high esteem and many of its departments are consistently rated excellent for teaching.

Be aware that some courses are run not actually in Durham but at a new modern sub-campus 25 miles away in Stockton on Tees - yes, its still 'Durham University' on your degree certificate but do you really want to go to Uni in Middlesborough? Separate page on the Stockton campus here.



The main library, comprising 4 floors, is situated on the Science Site, about 5-10 minutes walk from Elvet Riverside. It has the majority of the books held by Durham University and has a Short loan section for very demanded books which they may only have a few copies of, where they can be loaned for only 4 hours at a time.

There is also a library at Queen's Campus, on Palace Green and an Education Library located just by the college of St. Hild and St. Bede. Theology students also have access to the Cathedral Library. Each college also has its own library which is run by the individual colleges so opening times may vary between colleges (and you may only borrow from your own college's library). Take a look at the library website for more information.

IT and Computing

IT and Computing provision is very good in the university. The vast majority of the computers in university are of extremely good specification. There are many computers available for use in the university libraries as well as in open access IT areas.

CIS is the university's 'IT Service'. They manage the computers around the university. They also maintain and provide the internet access points college rooms. Internet access in college rooms is included in the cost of accommodation. Each user is assigned with a CIS username and password.

There are many wireless access points around the university campus, covering most lecture theatres, cafes and the library. In college wireless coverage is available in strategically located positions such as bars and libraries. Instructions for connecting are available here.


At Durham City campus sports facilities at the university are based at the Maiden Castle sports centre, which has lots of facilities including all-weather pitches and a gym. At Queen's Campus a multi-million pound sport centre has recently opened, which has a wide range of facilities including a multi-purpose fitness suite, ergometer room and a spinning room. Find out more about sport at Durham: [1]. All the colleges also have their own sports teams, which are generally more relaxed about training than the university sports teams. Some colleges have their own basketball/tennis/netball facilities. Colleges also often have their own gyms.

General Information
Durham, UK
University Office, Old Elvet, Durham, DH1 3HP, UK
0191 334 2000
SU/Guild website:
UCAS Code:
Pre-Redbrick, Russell Group

Total students:
Typical offers:
Applicants per place:


Welfare is well-catered for at both college and university levels. In each college there are a number of pastoral staff members on hand to help and advice students. There are elected welfare representatives and their teams who are present from the first day of fresher's week and beyond, to confidentially give a listening ear or information and practical advice about any issues. As well as holding regular welfare hours, their contact details are usually posted around all of college.

At university level, the University Health Centre as well as the Students' Union work together to provide facilities and information, such as counselling services, Nightbus (a very cheap bus to help lone travellers in the evening). Also, university-independent bodies run in Durham to help, such as Nightline, which is a confidential information and listening service run by students, for students.


The University Health Centre is situated on Green Lane (If you walk up old Elvet towards the Magistrates Court you will find Green Lane. The new surgery is on your right hand side). It is part of a larger practice, Claypath & University Medical Group, which also has a health centre at 26 Gilesgate.

University Health Centre, Green Lane, Durham, DH1 3JX (0191) 3865081


Durham has a fair number of shops, although Newcastle (10-15 minutes' train journey) is nearby for any major shopping needs like Primark. It takes about 40 minutes to get to the famous Metrocentre's own station from Durham. For clothes shopping there is Topshop, New Look, Next, Monsoon, Miss Selfridge, Burton, Greenwoods, Evans and a lovely shop called Georgian Window. Supermarkets: Town centre there is a Marks and Spencer, Iceland and a Tesco Metro, and there are also huge out of town branches of Tesco (15 mins' walk from Hild Bede) and Sainsbury's which do delivery. There are 2 branches of Boots. There is also a large HMV.


Durham’s inns, restaurants and cafés offer something for everyone with food from all over the world. There is a useful Durham Tourism website which provides details of many local restaurants.

Italian La Spaghettata (cheap - pizza/pasta, drink & salad for £6-7 authentic, always busy) Medici (small, fairly normal fare) Pizza Express Romeo's Bistro Italiano (one of the best places in Durham. Really authentic, great staff, great atmosphere, the steak is to die for) Ask

Indian The Spice Lounge (awesome, awesome, awesome. GO THERE NOW) The Capital (same owners as Spice Lounge - same great food, different atmosphere) Rajpooth (good value on Sundays and Thursdays) Shaheens (good happy hour)

Far Eastern In Shanghai (pretty nice for a buffet) Numjai (really great Thai food - go at lunchtime though as it's overpriced for dinner) Fat Budda

Random others Oldfields (great local produce, good value lunch menu. nom nom nom) The Pump House (one of the more expensive places - specialises in steak and seafood. Worth the price) Bistro 21 (pricey, but worth it) Hide

Then there's all the ones in the new complex by the Gala theatre - Nandos, Chiquitos etc


NatWest is located on the side of the student union, Dunelm House. There are also branches of most major banks located in the town centre.


Trains: Mainline connections from Durham to London King’s Cross and handy trains to Newcastle. Stockton is near Darlington train station, on the London-Edinburgh line.

Coaches: National Express and Blue Line services to many destinations: London, Newcastle and so on.

Car: 5 mins off the A1, walking within the city centre is easy enough (and the riverside paths are blissful). Stockton connects to the A1 via the A66 (Junction 57) from the South or A690/A177 (Junction 62) from the North.

Air: From Newcastle Airport, there is a direct Metro link into Newcastle Central Station (approx 30 minutes) and from there you can catch a regular train to Durham via the East Coast Mainline (see "Trains" section)

From Durham Tees Valley Airport there is a direct Bus link to Darlington Rail Station, from there you can catch a regular train to Durham via the East Coast Mainline (approx 20 minutes).

Between these airports, flights are offered to London, Northern Ireland and Europe. Newcastle International now flies to the Middle East (Emirates Airlines) and so connections can be made to Asia/Australia.

Local: Good bus services that lazy students use to get up the hills in Durham. The Arriva X1 service (or X2 in the evenings) runs between Durham and Queen’s Campus, which is free for students presenting their campus cards. There are many bus stops for this service in Durham, including one outside Elvet Riverside and opposite the Science Site. More information.

Park and Ride: Durham City Council has introduced a park and ride scheme with three large strategically located car parks on the outskirts of the city. Parking costs £1.70 all day, including unlimited travel on the Park and Ride buses. If you're a student at Ustinov College or Josephine Butler College you live literally right by one of these bus stops You can apply for a student smartcard, which makes travel just £1.00 for the whole day. Buses run every 10 minutes or so from 7am to 7pm, and from Monday to Saturday. This will take you into town (and back) if you don't fancy the walk. Parking is extremely limited in Durham, so this may be an ideal alternative. More information.

Bicycles: Lots of Durham students own bikes, despite the numerous hills in Durham. It makes for quicker getting about, especially when you're at a Hill college. Most colleges have some sort of bike racks to lock your bike up at, and some offer bike sheds for more secure storage. There are plenty of bike racks at the main lecture locations although on some days these can fill up - but usually you will be able to find somewhere nearby to lock up.

Careers service

Durham University Careers Employability & enterprise Centre offers advice and support for all students. There is a vacancies section on their website which shows many temporary, one-off, part-time and full-time jobs.

Part-time jobs

The majority of students at Durham only work during their holidays, but there are jobs available should you wish to work part-time during the term. Employment opportunities exist at most colleges, with work available in the individual libraries and bars. Casual work can sometimes be found through the university (running campus tours) or from the Students' Union (helping out with careers fairs). Regular work outside of the university generally consists of bar or restaurant work. Part time jobs are advertised through the Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre.

Religious facilities

Each college has a dedicated chaplain, and there are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Quaker, United Reformed and Orthodox chaplains serving the whole university. There are also numerous religious societies affiliated to the Students Union, including the Islamic Society, the Jewish Society, the Pagan Society and te Durham Inter-Collegeiate Christian Union (affiliated in about 2011), as well as numerous other Christian denominational groups. Durham is served by a variety of churches of varying denominations, and there is a university-provided Islamic prayer room.

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Bars, Pubs and clubs


Klute - This was voted as the second worst night club in Europe by FHM. The first worst later burnt down, therefore unofficially giving Klute the title of 'worst nightclub in Europe'. It used to play cheese but got bought refurbished (causing much controversy) in January 2012. So now it attempts to be hip (and still plays cheese most nights). Generally quite popular even though it's always rammed (it's very small and very sweaty). A good night out!

Studio - Has a good 50p night on Tuesdays. Doesn't tend to be very busy though.... except on Tuesdays....

Academy - Quite big. Quite busy. Can't really say much else, I haven't been much, I just thought i'd add it to the list.

Fishtank - plays indie and generally 'alternative' music.

Loveshack - the newest club in Durham, plays mainly mainstream music, RnB, dance etc, mixed with the odd bit of cheese if you ask the DJ nicely. It's a bit expensive for drinks (£2 doubles are like 15% vodka) but generally quite good. Very popular on Wednesdays. Tends to not have many students in on weekends.

Lloyds (/Bishops Mill) - right next door to Loveshack, plays mainstream music as a rule, bit of dance, RnB and indie etc. It's incredibly busy on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and is often filled with older people, so expect to hear lots of meatloaf on the weekend. It's reasonably priced for drinks though!


Loads. Swan & Three Cygnets, Varsity, Wetherspoon's, Shakespeare, The New Inn. Many more. For those interested in Real Ale then The Shakespeare, The Dun Cow, The Woodman, The COlpitts and Half Moon are particularly recommended.


Saddler's, Vennel's, Caffe Nero, Costa, Starbucks, Cafe Rouge, Esquires... loads of others!


Jimmy Allen's - is good, Monday to Wednesday it does House Trebles for £2.50 Chase - Does nice cocktails and gas chambers Varsity - Monday night is good. £1 a pint on selected drinks. A V-card (£2 per year) may be required. Wetherspoons - Nice cheap food. Look out for discount vouchers in the freshers fair. Yates

Also there are all the college bars to explore, where drinks are all really cheap! Each is a little different with a different atmosphere and its nice to just go to one, even if it isn't your college and chill. Cuth's Bar is the cheapest, has a great atmosphere and is definitely worth a visit.


Clubs and societies

There are many different clubs and societies in Durham. They range from small college clubs, societies or music groups to large clubs covering all the colleges and attracting people from different colleges.

The DSU can provide funding to ratified societies. A full list of societies can be found here .

Things to do in Durham when you're a student


Choosing a college

Bailey colleges are the older colleges in the old part of Durham, surprisingly on the Bailey, near the Castle. They are right in town and close to Elvet Riverside, where the language department is based.

The Bailey Colleges are as follows:

St Cuthbert’s Society – Third oldest collegiate body, founded in 1888. Cuth's has a fantastic bar with an atmosphere that many other colleges envy. They also boast the cheapest student bar prices in Durham. There is a pool table, plasma and projector screens and even a heated beer garden outside, as well as free WiFi and an internet connected Jukebox with over 2 million songs. Cuth's Bar opens much earlier than any other college bar, which proves to be very popular! First year students are housed on the Bailey and on the Parsons Field site at the top of Old Elvet.

Hatfield College – The second oldest college, with lots of traditions including formal meals in gowns twice a week in the first term, once a week thereafter. Hatfield is medium sized college with about 650-700 undergrads. Being on the bailey and about 3 minutes from Tescos means Hatfield is somewhat pushed for space and many freshers have to share a room, although they do boast some of the best shared rooms in Durham. Renowned for being rowdy and full of "rugby boys" the "Hatfield Spirit" is said to be legendary. In 2009-2010 Hatfield was the top college for sports.

St Chad’s College – smallest college with about 300-350 undergrads, supposedly has the nicest food, has regular formals. Probably have to share a room in first year. Cheap bar.

St John’s College – small college about 400-450 undergrads. Has links with the Church. Well-stocked bar. May have to share a room in first year. Traditional.

University College – Oldest college, housed in Durham Castle. Medium sized, about 650 undergrads. Formals twice weekly, famed June Ball. Some first years will have accommodation in the Castle in shared rooms, although the majority will be housed in single rooms in "Moatside".

The second category of Durham City colleges is the ‘Hill Colleges’. They are based up on a hill that goes out of Durham and are about a 10-20 minute walk from the town centre. They are more modern than the Bailey colleges and are close to the Science Site and the library. The hill colleges are as follows:

Collingwood College – large college, about 1,000 – 1,100 undergrads. Has a large bar, a shop, coffee shop, a pizza bar. Sporty reputation. Modern accommodation; only 16 shared rooms and they are really nice ensuites. Backs on to botanic gardens. Has 2/3 Megaformals a term rather than a weekly formal, doesn’t wear gowns. Has a friendly, modern ethos, very welcoming.

Grey College – medium to large college with about 800-900 undergrads. Very close to the science site and the main library. Has a pizza bar, a gym and tennis/netball courts. Modern facilities, may have to share a room in first year. Has regular formals at which gowns are worn.

Josephine Butler College - college that is furthest away! This is the newest Durham college, first admitting students in September 2006. It is Durham's first fully self-catering college, and all rooms are single and en-suite. Approximately 750 undergraduates. Has a huge bar with hammocks, and a mound, which most Butler students are very proud of! The walk to town is ~15 mins and the walk to the science site is ~10mins. There's also a bus station literally on campus which takes you to town and back every 10 mins.

St Aidan’s College – Has a lot of steps. May have to share a room in first year. Medium-largish college with about 800-900 undergrads. Has formals two or three times a term. Situated at the top of the hill next to Van Mildert. Quite a small bar.

St Mary’s College – oldest and most attractive of all the hill colleges. As of October 2005 it became co-ed after being all-female since it was founded in the early 20th century. Close to science site and library. Worst bar. Regular formals. May have to share a room in first year, although rooms are changed termly.

Trevelyan College – smallest of hill colleges with about 500 undergrads. Famed for its strange hexagonal architecture. Large, airy bar. Lots of nice daffodils in spring, formals every other week. All undergraduates have to move rooms every term and share a room for one of those terms in the first year. Newly refurbished ground floor over Summer 2010.

Van Mildert College – medium – largish college with about 800 undergrads. Has a lake with lots of ducks, and a rabbit. But that doesn't live in the lake. Is the only catered college which guarantees single accommodation, all others have possibility of sharing. Has a thriving live music scene, aided by 'Jam night' and open mic nights. Bar has a large choice of real ale.

The next category of Durham City colleges is Hild and Bede, which is actually a college by itself. I have put it on its own because it is neither on the Bailey, nor on the Hill.

College of St Hild and St Bede – largest college, with about 1,200 undergrads. 16 acres of grounds next to the river. Lots of facilities including a cinema and basketball and tennis courts. Has black tie formals.

In Durham City there is also Ustinov College, which is postgrad only.

Accommodation policy

All first years are guaranteed a place in college. However, you're expected to live out in your second year. There are sometimes opportunities to live in in your second year, however this depends on the college and how many rooms they have available. Many people then return to college for their third year.


All colleges with the exception of St Cuthbert’s Society and Josephine Butler are fully catered, offering meals three times a day. Cuth's is the only college to have an entire range of options; from fully catered, semi-catered (with a choice of either 5 or 10 meals in college per week), 'pay-as-you-go' meals or self-catered. Butler is entirely self-catered. Those colleges which are fully catered have limited cooking facilities, normally consisting of a fridge, microwave and a range of small appliances (eg. toasters).

Many of the colleges have bars, social areas, sports facilities, shops, music, practice rooms, libraries and a year round programme of events.

Student union




Durham Cathedral is often regarded as the finest Norman building in Europe, and it's undoubtedly the architectural highlight of Durham, not only for its age, but also for its breathtaking interior. The Castle, on the other side of Palace Green and home of University College, is something of a an architectural hotch-potch, having been constructed and then altered over the course of many centuries. Nevertheless its prominent position on the rocky peninsular is undoubtedly dramatic, especially juxtaposed with the Cathedral.

Much of the rest of the University's older campus occupies attractive but undistinguished town houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most notably North and South Bailey, and Old Elvet.

Durham's more recent architecture has proved similarly divisive, particularly in the case of the Dunelm House, the Students' Union building, and Kingsgate Bridge, which spans the river gorge to connect with North Bailey. These are both in the concrete Brutalist style of the 1960s, and although somewhat incongruous in the historic setting, certainly work better than the bland and uninspiring Elvet Riverside, just down the road.

Local area

Teaching quality

Students at Durham University are among the most satisfied in the UK, according to this year's (2011) National Student Survey (NSS).

The independent annual survey evaluates how satisfied students are with the overall quality of their higher education experience.

Students rated their satisfaction in seven areas of academic life: teaching; assessment and feedback; academic support; organisation and management; learning resources; personal development and overall satisfaction.

Durham has seen rises in student satisfaction in: Assessment and Feedback, Academic Support and Personal Development, and in Learning Resources which includes questions related to the quality and accessibility of Information Technology, library, room and laboratory resources.

87 per cent of respondents agreed that overall they were satisfied with the quality of their course compared to a national average of 82per cent. Durham University departments such as English and History registered particularly high satisfaction ratings of 97 per cent and 98 per cent respectively.

The ratings follow excellent league table results for Durham University. The Complete University Guide (CUG) 2010-2011 ranked Durham as the fourth best institution in the country - up from fifth last year - placing it firmly alongside other leading research-led institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London.

Durham also moved up two places to sixth at the top echelons of The Times Good University Guide (GUG) 2011.

In both guides Durham scored high marks in student satisfaction and for the average amount it spends per student on facilities for education, social and leisure purposes such as its colleges and sport facilities.

Professor Anthony Forster, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Durham University, said: "Durham offers an excellent academic experience to students and through our 16 residential colleges provides unparalleled opportunities for study and personal development.

"Significant investment in new resources, such as lecture theatres and laboratories, has added to the world-class research facilities here at Durham and students clearly value being taught by leading experts in their field.

"Over the next 5 years we will be investing more than £60m in extending our library, building a new Law School, and providing a new centre for student services that will house admissions, counselling, welfare support and careers advice.

"These changes will further enhance the student experience at Durham University supported by the unique social and pastoral experience offered by our colleges."

Durham Students' Union Education and Welfare Officer, Jake Wanstall said:

"Durham is a great place to study because you get to engage with some of the best academics in the world, yet are encouraged to recognise that your time here is about so much more than that.

"Durham students are satisfied because they are connected. The fantastic college system helps to ensure they are connected to each other, their Students' Union and to the whole university structure. This is, afterall, the university where Bill Bryson finds time to litter-pick with his students."


"The Durham students' online newspaper and lifestyle magazine", durham21.co.uk is the current NUS Student Website of the Year. It also won the award in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. durham21 has just been nominated in the Best Website of the Year category of the Guardian Media Awards 2007. It has also recently undertaken a re-design.

Taken from the site's 'About Us' section:

We aim to combine all the recognisable features of a print newspaper, such as the latest news, views, music, arts and reviews, whilst also exploiting the Internet medium to bring such things as a virtual tour of Durham, webcasting of Durham's student radio station purple, a fully-searchable listings system, web polls and an interactive comments system.

In addition, our free fortnightly Kickstarter email makes it even easier to keep up to date with everything that's going on, in or around Durham.

durham21 is entirely run by students and is always on the look out for new contributors as it aims to once again retain the NUS Student Website of the Year Award.

Applying to Durham

Thinking of applying to University of Durham? Why not read some Personal Statements which were used for applying here?

Other Durham Articles

Why not read these other University of Durham Articles?


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