Durham uni Vs St Andrews uni

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the_normal_user
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Hi, could people give honest reviews/reflections on either or both universities? As there is not much out there for either of them, and a lot of the threads on here are old.

I'm currently trying to decide between Durham and St Andrews for Politics at Durham and international relations at St Andrews.
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polscistudent
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Before giving you any opinions, is there any particular topic/field/area that interests you? E.g. elections, political behaviour, political economy, area studies (including British politics), conflict, IR theory, political philosophy... If you have no idea it's fine, it's just to give you more "personalised" advice.
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Anonymous #1
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I'm stuck between the two universities too!! If this is any help here's my pros list of both ahah:

St Andrews:
Pros: Higher UK Rank, I like their traditions, I prefer the course and the flexibility of their structure, highest student satisfaction levels in the UK
Cons: Apparently the nightlife is lacking (no actual clubs), Quite deserted location wise (I'm from London so It'll definitely be a culture shock), Lack of diversity (could be said for both), the nice accommodations don't have en suites lol, Americans.
Durham:
Pros: Collegiate System, 3-year course opposed to 4, better location, decent nightlife from what I've heard, Russel Group (if that even matters), Pretty town.
Cons: Lower Rank, can be said for a lot of unis but Oxbridge reject central, Durham culture seems lowkey toxic apparently but I'm honestly not too fussed.

I think St Andrews is like the best university for IR so that may help your decision, I'm planning on doing Econ and IR there. If you think of anything else let me know I have no idea which one I prefer tbh. Also, I'm fully aware of how trivial a few things this list are they're just what came to mind lmao
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the_normal_user
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(Original post by polscistudent)
Before giving you any opinions, is there any particular topic/field/area that interests you? E.g. elections, political behaviour, political economy, area studies (including British politics), conflict, IR theory, political philosophy... If you have no idea it's fine, it's just to give you more "personalised" advice.
Hey, I am quite interested in British politics which I know St Andrews doesn't do :/ if not I am also quite interested in theoretical politics/political philosophy, foreign policy interactions, and military studies/terrorism (one of the reasons St Andrews really appeals to me)

Thanks for replying so quickly
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the_normal_user
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm stuck between the two universities too!! If this is any help here's my pros list of both ahah:

St Andrews:
Pros: Higher UK Rank, I like their traditions, I prefer the course and the flexibility of their structure, highest student satisfaction levels in the UK
Cons: Apparently the nightlife is lacking (no actual clubs), Quite deserted location wise (I'm from London so It'll definitely be a culture shock), Lack of diversity (could be said for both), the nice accommodations don't have en suites lol, Americans.
Durham:
Pros: Collegiate System, 3-year course opposed to 4, better location, decent nightlife from what I've heard, Russel Group (if that even matters), Pretty town.
Cons: Lower Rank, can be said for a lot of unis but Oxbridge reject central, Durham culture seems lowkey toxic apparently but I'm honestly not too fussed.

I think St Andrews is like the best university for IR so that may help your decision, I'm planning on doing Econ and IR there. If you think of anything else let me know I have no idea which one I prefer tbh. Also, I'm fully aware of how trivial a few things this list are they're just what came to mind lmao
Thanks for this
I had similar pros and cons, ultimately its a stand-off between social life/sports, etc and then quality of teaching/academics.

I have been leaning towards doing three years at Durham and then a postgrad at St Andrews, which would give a degree from both Unis in 4 years (Same time as one degree from St Andrews would take...)
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(Original post by the_normal_user)
Thanks for this
I had similar pros and cons, ultimately its a stand-off between social life/sports, etc and then quality of teaching/academics.

I have been leaning towards doing three years at Durham and then a postgrad at St Andrews, which would give a degree from both Unis in 4 years (Same time as one degree from St Andrews would take...)
Ah what gave Durham the lead? I want to do my postgrad abroad so I was hoping St Andrews would give me more connections to american universities but thats solely based off assumption as they have such a high american intake. Durham was originally my top choice but now I'm unsure ahaha
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the_normal_user
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Ah what gave Durham the lead? I want to do my postgrad abroad so I was hoping St Andrews would give me more connections to american universities but thats solely based off assumption as they have such a high american intake. Durham was originally my top choice but now I'm unsure ahaha
I wouldn't argue that students would help gain you connections at American universities as I think that is quite unrealistic, it would be like asking your friend James (random name chosen) from your rugby team asking for a recommendation to get into Durham, a bit odd...

The only thing that I would maybe think St Andrews would help you with in America is the fact that it is more well known and recognisable, but even then Durham is known for being one of the top universities in the UK (Top 5 depending on where you look or who you ask) so I don't think the 'name' of St Andrews in the US is much greater than that of Durham...

What made you originally prefer Durham?
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(Original post by the_normal_user)
I wouldn't argue that students would help gain you connections at American universities as I think that is quite unrealistic, it would be like asking your friend James (random name chosen) from your rugby team asking for a recommendation to get into Durham, a bit odd...

The only thing that I would maybe think St Andrews would help you with in America is the fact that it is more well known and recognisable, but even then Durham is known for being one of the top universities in the UK (Top 5 depending on where you look or who you ask) so I don't think the 'name' of St Andrews in the US is much greater than that of Durham...

What made you originally prefer Durham?
oh yeah definitely it was mainly an idea of networking as I'd know more people over there but you're right they do have no links it was just an odd thought.

I originally had always planned to go to Durham as I knew a lot of people who've gone there and enjoyed it. I also again love the collegiate system and honestly think if I get into my first choice college (St Chads) Durham will gain the lead again. The majority of my preferences do currently consist of social prospects rather than academics. I do think academically St Andrews will be a better option for me (minus the course being an extra year) but socially Durham does seem like a more entertaining place and I'd probably be more familiar as again I know a few people there. I also do like that Durham is a sportier university, even though I personally am not very sportive.
I probably won't decide until the very last minute tbh, and I still have yet to hear from St Andrews I'm just assuming I will get an offer but perhaps the choice will be made for me aha.
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the_normal_user
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(Original post by Anonymous)
oh yeah definitely it was mainly an idea of networking as I'd know more people over there but you're right they do have no links it was just an odd thought.

I originally had always planned to go to Durham as I knew a lot of people who've gone there and enjoyed it. I also again love the collegiate system and honestly think if I get into my first choice college (St Chads) Durham will gain the lead again. The majority of my preferences do currently consist of social prospects rather than academics. I do think academically St Andrews will be a better option for me (minus the course being an extra year) but socially Durham does seem like a more entertaining place and I'd probably be more familiar as again I know a few people there. I also do like that Durham is a sportier university, even though I personally am not very sportive.
I probably won't decide until the very last minute tbh, and I still have yet to hear from St Andrews I'm just assuming I will get an offer but perhaps the choice will be made for me aha.
Omg really weird, I totally agree with everything you said. Academics are strong at both Unis, I'm heavily into sport so that's important for me, and I also need a strong social community as without it I don't do well (bit of an extravert lol).

Did you apply for politics/international relations?

Also, what other colleges would you consider for Durham?
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(Original post by the_normal_user)
Omg really weird, I totally agree with everything you said. Academics are strong at both Unis, I'm heavily into sport so that's important for me, and I also need a strong social community as without it I don't do well (bit of an extravert lol).

Did you apply for politics/international relations?

Also, what other colleges would you consider for Durham?
Same! I'm definitely more on the extroverted side and I get the sense that St Andrews would be a lot quieter which is a big downside. I have heard that the community in st andrews is strong though as everyone knows everyone practically due to it being such a small town but I'm just worried about their nightlife lol.

I applied for Econ at Durham but I am thinking about changing course to IR or Econ and Politics if given the chance. College wise I think I'd consider any college on the bailey really (minus st johns lmao), I also liked the look of St Marys on the hill. What college did you apply to?
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the_normal_user
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Same! I'm definitely more on the extroverted side and I get the sense that St Andrews would be a lot quieter which is a big downside. I have heard that the community in st andrews is strong though as everyone knows everyone practically due to it being such a small town but I'm just worried about their nightlife lol.

I applied for Econ at Durham but I am thinking about changing course to IR or Econ and Politics if given the chance. College wise I think I'd consider any college on the bailey really (minus st johns lmao), I also liked the look of St Marys on the hill. What college did you apply to?
Yeh nightlife is a big worry for me at St Andrews, even Durham is a slight worry but as Newcastle is 15 mins train journey as well I think it will be fine, also the fact that there are the college bars in Durham (Pints being £1.10 too ).

I applied for straights Politics at Durham, might try to change to Politics and International Relations when I get there. I applied to Collingwood as it was one of the biggest colleges, had the best sports vibe, and its got the best bar. Having said that, I'm not a fan of there being no gowned formals (but I've heard friends can invite you to theirs so its not a big downside)

To be honest, I would defo be happy with Collingwood or any of the Bailey colleges, but tbh anything that isn't JoBo, Stephenson or South College would probs be fine for me...
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(Original post by the_normal_user)
Yeh nightlife is a big worry for me at St Andrews, even Durham is a slight worry but as Newcastle is 15 mins train journey as well I think it will be fine, also the fact that there are the college bars in Durham (Pints being £1.10 too ).

I applied for straights Politics at Durham, might try to change to Politics and International Relations when I get there. I applied to Collingwood as it was one of the biggest colleges, had the best sports vibe, and its got the best bar. Having said that, I'm not a fan of there being no gowned formals (but I've heard friends can invite you to theirs so its not a big downside)

To be honest, I would defo be happy with Collingwood or any of the Bailey colleges, but tbh anything that isn't JoBo, Stephenson or South College would probs be fine for me...
Oh yeah, Durham too definitely isn't renowned for having a particularly great nightlife however I imagine it to be better than St Andrew's. Literally, being that close to Newcastle is a big benefit esp since the nearest city to St Andrew's is Dundee I think and to get to Edingburgh it's like an hour. Again though I am quite fond of the traditions held at St Andrew's. I wish we had the chance to actually visit both unis I think that would have helped an enormous amount the majority of my research so far has been off of google image.

Yeah, I did look for colleges who have gowned formals but again shouldn't be too big of an issue without. I looked at a website that had all the college stereotypes and honestly same the only ones I wouldn't want to end up in are those you've listed. I would way prefer ro be on the Bailey though. I wouldn't mind being at Hildes and St Bedes as apparently it has a good vibe but it is just wayy too isolated. I also don't think I could personally hack being at collingwood just because of the emphasis on sports ahaha.

I honestly don't know where I'd prefer to be at the moment. It's still probably going to be a last-minute call for me.
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the_normal_user
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Oh yeah, Durham too definitely isn't renowned for having a particularly great nightlife however I imagine it to be better than St Andrew's. Literally, being that close to Newcastle is a big benefit esp since the nearest city to St Andrew's is Dundee I think and to get to Edingburgh it's like an hour. Again though I am quite fond of the traditions held at St Andrew's. I wish we had the chance to actually visit both unis I think that would have helped an enormous amount the majority of my research so far has been off of google image.

Yeah, I did look for colleges who have gowned formals but again shouldn't be too big of an issue without. I looked at a website that had all the college stereotypes and honestly same the only ones I wouldn't want to end up in are those you've listed. I would way prefer ro be on the Bailey though. I wouldn't mind being at Hildes and St Bedes as apparently it has a good vibe but it is just wayy too isolated. I also don't think I could personally hack being at collingwood just because of the emphasis on sports ahaha.

I honestly don't know where I'd prefer to be at the moment. It's still probably going to be a last-minute call for me.
Hopefully we can visit before having to make final decisions, probably will be a late call for me too. A big factor is also likely to be the offer that both uni's give me (or potentially don't give me...)
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polscistudent
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If it was to increase chances in US universities you should go to Essex, Oxford, LSE or UCL. So I wouldn't worry about that.

Both are good universities and will give you a good education, and none of them is a top department (see above). Durham is stronger in area studies (particularly of the Middle East). This also implies they are stronger in Comparative (and you're more likely to be exposed to British Politics scholars there than in St Andrews). St Andrews is more about IR and Security Studies. Which one offers the modules you like the most?

If it was for me I'd go for Durham, also for the location and the vicinity to some bigger cities. St Andrews is a lot further away from everything than I'd like. But this is a very personal opinion (and I moved away from IR, so I'm biased in that regard).
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(Original post by polscistudent)
If it was to increase chances in US universities you should go to Essex, Oxford, LSE or UCL. So I wouldn't worry about that.

Both are good universities and will give you a good education, and none of them is a top department (see above). Durham is stronger in area studies (particularly of the Middle East). This also implies they are stronger in Comparative (and you're more likely to be exposed to British Politics scholars there than in St Andrews). St Andrews is more about IR and Security Studies. Which one offers the modules you like the most?

If it was for me I'd go for Durham, also for the location and the vicinity to some bigger cities. St Andrews is a lot further away from everything than I'd like. But this is a very personal opinion (and I moved away from IR, so I'm biased in that regard).
Yeh after more research I agree with what you have said. I am now leaning more to doing a 3-year politics focused degree at Durham. Then going to do a 1-year postgrad in International Security Studies at St Andrews.

However, I am still going to reserve my final choice until I have visited both unis.
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