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Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
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Right, I'm bloody sick to death of reading the same questions and answers on here. So, I propose we create a "sticky" Durham faq thread that answers such things as: Gown/formal questions, matriculation bobbins, sharing, stuff about colleges/town and the question everyone's been asking...Just what does the maths department smell of?

I know there are probably other areas on TSR for these things, but it'd probably reduce the bumf that gets posted here time and time again, since hopefully people would read it first. We could have different posts dedicated to particular areas, or some ****, and make sure the bastard thing was locked

Sam's idea has become reality. *locks thread*

If anyone has anything to add/spots a mistake, please can you PM me and I will correct it.:smile:


Formals tend to differ from college to college. At some colleges, formals are held once a week or more often. Other colleges have them spaced out a little more, with one a fortnight. Collingwood tends to have termly Mega-Formals.

Dress at formal events is, surprisingly, formal. What this means depends on the college and the event. Usually, a suit or smart tie/jacket will suffice for men, while the ladies can get away with wearing a top/skirt combination. At the larger events such as balls, black tie tends to be the mandatory dress code. Of course, since we're students these dress codes tend to be rather relaxed. If you forget to wear a tie to some formals, then nobody really minds. Denim, however, is usually a no-no.

Drinking rules and games also very between colleges. Grey, in particular, have rather harsh rules about the amount of alcohol allowed to be consumed in formal. However, most colleges allow drinking games and formals tend to be a relaxed, enjoyable affair. Guests from other colleges/outside the uni are welcome, but usually have to be signed up and paid for in advance.

If anyone fancies PM-ing me college specific formal info, then that'd be ace.
Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Reply 2

There are 16 colleges that make up the University of Durham

Collingwood College Clicky!
George Stephenson College (Queen’s Campus) Clicky!
Grey College Clicky!
Hatfield College Clicky!
John Snow College (Queen’s Campus) Clicky!
St Aidan’s College Clicky!
St Chad’s College Clicky!
St Cuthbert’s Society Clicky!
College of St Hild and St Bede Clicky!
St John’s College Clicky!
St Mary’s College Clicky!
Trevelyan College Clicky!
University College Clicky! See also The official Durham Castle website
Ustivov College (postgraduates only) Clicky!
Van Mildert College Clicky!
And finally Josephine Butler college, the newest college in Durham. For more info, see post further down the page.

Link found by Matt that has an actually useful, if a little out of date comparison of all the colleges. Enjoy. :smile:

The university website's attempt to help you choose a college

University of Durham home page

More info about Durham thanks to

Link to some students' opinions

A few statistics, courtesy of Push Online (for the whole uni):

Sex ratio (M:F): 45:55
Founded: 1832
Full-time u’grads: 10,380
Part-time: 385
Postgrads: 2,190
Non-degree: 156
Ave course: 3yrs
Ethnic: 7%
State:tongue:rivate school: 61:33
Flunk rate: 2%
Mature: 8%
International: 15%
Disabled: 61
Local: 18%
Reply 3
Academic Gowns

The following Durham City colleges do wear gowns for formals:

Grey College
Hatfield College
St Chad’s College
St John’s College
St Mary’s College
Trevelyan College
University College
Josephine Butler College

NB Gowns are also worn at all of the above for matriculation.

The following Durham City colleges do not wear gowns for formals:

Collingwood College
St Aidan’s College
St Cuthbert's Society
Van Mildert College
The College of St Hild and St Bede

N.B. Gowns are not worn for matriculation at the above colleges EXCEPT the College of St Hild and St Bede.

For a description of an academic gown click HERE
Reply 4

Trains: Mainline connections from Durham to London King’s Cross and handy trains to Newcastle (approx £3.15). Stockton is near Darlington train station, on the London-Edinburgh line.

Coaches: National Express and Blue Line services to many destinations: London (£21), Newcastle (£3) and so on.

Car: 5 mins off the A1, but the city operates a £2 congestion charge in the centre and around town, walking is easy enough (and the riverside paths are blissful). Stockton connects to the A1 via the A66.

Air: Newcastle and Teesside Airports are close to both campuses flights to London, Northern Ireland and Europe.

Hitching: Not bad from the A1.

Local: Good bus services that lazy students use to get up the hills in Durham. Fares from 32p. A service runs between Durham and Queen’s Campus.

Taxis: Some of Britain’s cheapest taxis (min fare £1, Durham-Newcastle £30 usually, but I am eliably informed it can be haggled down to £20) make it a worthwhile share.

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.

You can get a bus from Durham Tees Valley airport that takes you straight to Darlington Train Station for about £2, and then on the train Darlington - Durham is only 14 minutes (same as Newcastle - Durham), so it's not far far far far easier to travel to Newcastle. If anything, it may even be sslllllliiiiiiiightly quicker through DTV, as DTV to Darlington is only 15 minutes on bus compared to 20 minutes for Metro airport - central. As well as that, with Newcastle being the bigger airport, you can expect bigger delays, longer queues etc etc.
Reply 5
Congestion charges
Only operate in Durham town centre between 9am and 4pm. At all other times it's free to drive up the Bailey. They also don't operate on Sundays. :smile:
The cost of the charge is £2.

There is a market in Durham town centre on a Saturday though.

NB the congestion charge is only to get OUT of the city centre, so don't worry about paying it to get in.
Reply 6
Nightlife in Durham
A brief article I wrote for the universities section on TSR.

Right, since Durham is notorious for having a lack of nightlife, I thought I'd give a quick overview of exactly what there is!

Nightclubs: Klute (officially the worst club in Europe - plays cheese, is rediculously small), Rixies (bigger than Klute, free tequila on Tuesdays), Walkabout (Australian theme thing), Studio (actually good. Does RnB nights on Monday and 50p entry on Tuesdays when you get 50p chips at the takeaway over the road as well), Fishtank - plays more alternative music, has live bands, but be warned they sell their beer in cans apparently, Love Shack in the new development by the Gala theatre
Also Planet of Sound every Friday night at the union - a place where people can dance to stuff other than cheese.

Pubs: Loads. Swan & 3 cygnets, Hog's Head, Varsity, Wetherspoon's, Shakespeare, The New Inn. Many more.

Cafés: Hollathan's, Saddler's, Vennel's, Brown Sugar, Caffe Nero, Costa...loads of others!

Bars: Jimmy Allen's, which is good. Chase - does nice cocktails, Hide, Epernay (champagne bar)
Also there are all the college bars to explore, where drinks are all really cheap! If you want proper club songs there's always Planet of Sound at the Union on a Friday night and the Union regularly puts on events like Back to School and Revolver on Saturdays. If you're getting really desperate you can easily go for a night out in Newcastle, Sunderland or Middlesborough, but I have never felt the need to leave Durham!!
Reply 7
Choosing a College.

We get so many threads on this forum of people asking which college is for them, I thought I’d make a brief summary of each college. But really, only you can decide which college is for you we on TSR don’t know you personally, so we can’t choose one for you.

Firstly, the Durham colleges tend to be grouped into categories and sub categories.
The categories are ‘Durham City’, ‘Stockton Campus’ and their sub categories are ‘Bailey’, Hill’, ‘Hild & Bede’ and ‘Postgrad’.

Durham City colleges are not surprisingly in Durham City.

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 dept. is based.

The Bailey Colleges are as follows:

Hatfield College 2nd oldest colleges, lots of traditions including regular formal meals, medium sized with about 650-700 undergrads. May have to share a room in 1st year.

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

St Cuthbert’s Society not technically a college, has a bar with a beer garden that opens at lunchtime, which is very popular. First year students are housed in accommodation all over Durham. About 1,100 undergrads.

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 650-700 undergrads. Formals twice weekly, famed June Ball. First years may have to share a room.

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 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. The newest college. Has a large bar, a shop and a pizza bar. Sporty reputation. Modern accommodation. Backs on to botanic gardens. Has formal once a term, doesn’t wear gowns.

Grey College medium to large college with about 800-900 undergrads. Very close to the science site. Has netball courts. Modern facilities.

St Aidan’s College college that is furthest away! Has a lot of steps. Reputation for being the party college. Pizza Bar. May have to share a room in first year. Medium-largeish college with about 800-900 undergrads. Has formals twice a term???

St Mary’s College oldest and most attractive of all the hill colleges. As of October 2005 it will be going 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.

Trevelyan College smallest of hill colleges with about 450 undergrads. Famed for it’s strange hexagonal architecture. Large, airy bar. Lots of nice daffodils in spring, formals every other week. May have to share a room in first year, trevs students move rooms every term.

Van Mildert College medium largeish college with about 800 undergrads. Has a lake with ducks. Most expensive bar. College with the smallest amount of shared rooms. Modern accommodation.

Butler College

Josephine Butler College was the first college in the UK to be created in 30 years. It opened its doors to students in 2006 and the first year has seen unexpectedly good development in all areas of the college.

Butler College will have 800 students once it is fully established and houses 400 of these students. All rooms are self-catered, single & en suite rooms. The en suite pods consist of a sink, toilet and shower each. A kitchen is shared between six residents, with each resident receiving 2 cupboards storage space (one lockable) as well as a shared cupboard and a large fridge and freezer. Each kitchen is a large communal area with a dining table and six chairs as well as four sofa chairs. A hoover, iron & ironing board are shared between six residents.

Butler has the biggest bar in Durham, fitted with 35ml optics, 10 pumps, food facilities, hammock chairs, two pool tables, a hockey table, table football and 3 beds. There is also the JCR room, a chill out place equipped with life size bean bags, a 42" LCD screen and a PS2. It is hoped that more games consoles may be purchased/ made available in the future. It also boasts a modest library and an ITS suite fitted with six computers and a 67" interactive screen. The Howlands building provides a space for gowned formals and other events, as well as housing the laundry room and state of the art gym. The Howlands shop is also conveniently located by the main entrance to provide students with groceries and other amenities.

There are currently over 15 sports teams at Butler, ranging from Rugby & Rowing to Badminton & Ultimate Frisbee. There are also an abundance of societies, with the 'Butler Aeronautical and Space Administration' for the science orientated and the 'Film Society' and 'Drama Society' for the more normal students.

Many more details are available at the Butler College JCR website:

Thanks to 6+6=12 for te above description of Butler. :smile:

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

The 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. Not too near to the other Durham colleges. Has black tie formals.

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

Aside from the Durham City Colleges, there are 2 other colleges to mention. They are the colleges at Queen’s Campus, Stockton, which is a satellite campus of the University of Durham. The colleges are as follows:

George Stephenson.
John Snow.

George Stepenson is the larger of the two. All rooms are ensuite and the Stockton Campus is very attractive and modern with lots of facilities.

socialist cook
The admissions secretary in the Politics department explained it to me as thus, many moons ago....

You apply to the department, they accept you, and then they look at which college you've put down for. If that college has filled its 'quota' for politics students you then get moved onto a college that hasn't filled its 'quota'. So it's not really like 'pooling'.

She also said, this was what most departments did in Durham.

Thanks to Sooz for this link:
Lots of useful photos of most of the colleges.

Reply 9
Matriculation is a ceremony in the Cathedral where all the new freshers go to be welcomed to the uni. You can wear whatever you like for the exams, within reason :smile:
Reply 10
Durham Track

Durham will have sent you a three page letter with a login number and password at the bottom right hand corner of the letter.

Go to and follow the instructions on that page.

If you haven't received a letter from Durham yet saying your application has been received you won't be able to use the service.
Reply 11
Durham Applications Process
For those who are interested in exactly how Durham processes your application, passes it between colleges, departments etc have a look at this clicky!

It is the flow chart for applications and although obviously intended for admissions office staff, publicly viewable and linked from the academic office website.

I don't know what all the abbreviations and acronyms are but I've deciphered some:

"C" Conditional Offer
"U" Unconditional Offer
"I" Interview
"R" Reject
"Referral" Reject from Durham campus but consider for Queens Campus.

"BANANA" is their computer system that handles admissions

Fee status codes

"H" Home
"I" International (at a guess)
"E" EU (at a guess)
"O" Other (at a guess, would include Channel Islands, Isle of Man)

I don't know what any of the SXAUCAT stuff is, but the overall flow of applications can be seen.

A couple of points this raises.

1.) Fail to get into Durham City and they'll consider you for Queens. The corresponding chart for Queens shows that the reverse is also true. I assume this covers both split depts such as Psychology/Applied Psychology and anyone who makes mistakes such as applying for medicine at Hatfield, or Law at John Snow.

2.) The department has the final say. If both colleges reject you but the dept still says yes then the Dean of Colleges forces a college to take you. This should happen rarely, because the second college is picked for you by the dept and they won't pick one thats full.

3.) If you apply for joint honours, both depts must say yes. If only one says yes then they'll consider offering single honours in that dept instead.
Reply 12
Durham University Open Days

Durham Campus

Information for potential applicants:

Durham differs from other universities in that it does not have general pre-application open days. Instead each department offers its own, subject specific open day(s). These usually run during the University summer holidays. You can find out the date for your department's open day by following this link and then selecting your department.

The open days generally consist of a talk about the subject delivered by an academic from the department. It may also include a chance for you to talk to current students. Usually these open days will not include a general campus tour If you can't make the open day for your department then you can arrange a personal tour of the department, during office hours, if you phone in advance.

If you need accomodation in Durham before/after an open day many of the colleges operate as B&B's outside of term time. This can be a good way to see more of a particular college. You can book college accomodation using this link
or phone the college directly for more information

Campus Tours

The University offers a general campus tour every Wednesday afternoon throughout the year. This includes a talk about Durham for potential applicants and their parents and then a guided walk around Durham University, pointing out important parts of the campus. This tour is suitable for students in any stage of the application process.
You can book on the campus tour via this link
Places are limited so it is a good idea to book in advance, especially if you want to visit during the school holidays. It may be possible to combine a Wednesday morning department talk with the general campus tour.

N.B. The Campus Tour does not visit all of the colleges and does not offer the chance to look at any accomodation. If you are interested in visiting a particular college then you can phone in advance and arrange a personal tour.

Information for Applicants:

If your application is accepted you will be invited to attend a post-application open day. These are over night events and take place in the university Easter holidays. You will arrive after lunch on the first day and spend the first afternoon and evening attending activities organised by your college. These will probably include a tour of the college as well as college related social activities. On the second day you will attend events organised by your department. This usually includes a talk about studying your subject at Durham and may include the opportunity to attend a lecture, tutorial or seminar. These Open Days are designed to help you decide if you want to select Durham as your firm/insurance choice. Generally students find these open days very helpful when making their choices.

Queen's Campus Stockton

Open Days:

In contrast to Durham City Campus, Queen's Campus Stockton offers campus wide Open Days for students interested in any of the subjects offered at the campus. The Open Days include department and college specific talks as well as general information about Durham University and Queen's Campus. It also includes a campus tour and the opportunity to view college accomodation. Information about the Open Days can be viewed by following this link.

Campus Tours:

The Universiy also runs Campus Tours on a Wednesday afternoon. This includes a talk about studying at Durham as well as a tour of the campus and the opportunity to view the colleges. If you want to attend a Campus Tour at Queen's Campus then you can follow this link to book your place.

Again it is a good idea to book in advance as places are limited.

If you are unable to attend a Wednesday afternoon campus tour you can also do a self guided tour. Just pick up a booklet from the Holiday Building reception.

Open Day FAQ:

Why doesn't my department dosent have an Open Day advertised?

Some Departments don't run pre-application open days. Please feel free to ring up the department and arrange a personal visit.

I have missed this year's Open Days for my department, what should I do?

If you have missed the open day then you can arrange a private visit by phoning the department, you may want to combine this vist with a Campus Tour

All the Open Days advertised for my department took place last year.

Departments run Open Days in the summer of each year. If the Open Days advertised took place last summer then it is likely that the Department have not updated their webpage, perhaps because they have not finalised the new dates yet. Email the department and ask them to notify you when the new dates are confirmed.

I am applying for a Joint Honours/ Combined Honours course, which open day should I attend?

If you are doing Joint Honours then it is up to you which Open Day you attend. Pick the department that you are most interested in/ is at the most convenient time for you to visit and combine this with a personal tour of the other department.
In addition the Combined Honours department run a talk every Wednesday afternoon before the Campus Tour. This is designed to explain the combined honours system at Durham and may be extremly helpful to those considering combined honours, however it will not be tailored to any specific subjects so you might like to combine this with a personal tour of any departments you are interested in.

This courtesy of Lychee! :biggrin:
Reply 13
The big OMG DURHAM ASKS FOR A MILLION A*s!!!! question

A commonly asked question in this forum is people panicking because they've heard a rumour that Durham want you to have a high number of A*s at GCSE to apply. This is a myth. For 99% of courses at the university, GCSEs are largely irrelevant.

The only department that asks for a significant number of A*s is THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT.

Here is a quote from the History dept page of Durham's website:

Are you a well-qualified candidate, with strong commitment to studying History and a genuine interest in the subject? We receive a great many applications from extremely good students, and admission is highly competitive and we cannot make offers to all those with AAA either predicted or achieved at A2 level. We look for excellent GCSE results (a high number of A*s, including an A* in History) and good levels or forecasts at AS and A2, with a strong personal statement and reference. We strongly encourage schools to make AS scores available.

Link to original source: CLICK HERE
Reply 14
Really useful info from Lychee

Who to contact at Durham

Pre Application:

If you have a query about Durham (both campuses) before you apply then contact the recruitment team:

S Sanders Ms, Academic Office, Student Recruitment Assistant (Queen's Campus) [email protected] phone:40047


K Shaw Ms, Academic Office, Student Recruitment Officer (Queen's Campus) [email protected] phone:40049


P Hookway Mr, Academic Office, Assistant Student Recruitment Officer [email protected] phone:40051


If you have a query about an application, if you need to change your details or enquire about changing college etc then contact the admissions team:

R Brass Mrs, Academic Office, UG Admissions Assistant [email protected] phone:46137


H Marshall Mrs, Academic Office, UG Admissions Assistant (Wed pm-Fri) [email protected] phone:46128


J Mayhew Mrs Academic Office UG Admissions Assistant (Mon-Wed am) [email protected] phone:46128


C McGinn Mrs, Academic Office, UG Admissions Supervisor [email protected] phone:46102

Queen's Campus

Post application enquiries about Queen's Campus courses should be directed to:

L Monkhouse Miss, Academic Office, UG Admissions Assistant (Queen's Campus) [email protected] phone:40028


DL Bade Mrs, Academic Office, Acting UG Admissions Supervisor (Queen's Campus) [email protected] phone:40048

NB you need to put 0191 33 in front of all phone extension numbers