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Durham VS St Andrews: Who would YOU pick?

Hello all.
I am stuck deciding between Durham or St Andrews. In your own biased opinion, how can anyone decide between the two! I'm struggling to do so, they both have so many strengths which makes it incredibly difficult to pick who I should firm.

These are the five key factors halting my decision.
1. Conflicting rankings
- StA dominates in general rankings, topping two tables at first and falling fourth overall in CUG and is mostly above Durham in general rankings.
- But... Durham ranks above StA for CS specifically, this is one of the first years that's the case with StA having gotten 3rd and 5th in prior years, I am curious why CUG placed it 10th this year and the motivation behind that decision, and then again domestic rankings are so inconsistent that next year it could easily be the opposite.

2. Durhams facilities
- Durhams new £40mil+ building is phenomenal and their new colleges and refurbished library make for an amazing set of facilities,
- But.. I know very little about the facilities I would get at StA with it being a little too far away for me to visit and I cannot find much about the facilities they offer online, so I would be judging only one side of the coin.

3. St Andrews has 45% international students
- This statistic generally appeals to me, I think it would be great to know and work alongside international students, would make the university experience more interesting in a sense. But Durham still has loads international students and is by no means entirely UK.

4. St Andrews is more selective with higher average UCAS tariff
- Selectivity != quality or passion of students, but it plays a part and knowing that they are more selective (16% vs roughly 40%) and their students on average hold more UCAS points. It's an interesting statistic to consider when comparing the two - what makes them more selective?

5. St Andrews asks for lower grades
- Lastly StA advertises lower grade requirements than Durham, I wonder if they want a larger pool of applicants to choose from or whether it's to make their offers more attractive. It could also be argued that the higher selectivity is a result of the AAA requirement, and Durhams lower selectivity is a result of the higher A*AA requirement so I'm not sure what to make of it. I could easily see StA still getting many applicants with A*AA requirements.

They are both great universities and each have so much going for them. Thoughts? Would love to hear from current students at either University

Scroll to see replies

Reply 1
The reason that not only St Andrews but many Scottish universities rank highly on CUG for average entry grades achieved is because a smaller proportion of people with A Levels go to Scottish universities than to English ones. Scottish students tend to take more Scottish Highers than English students take A Levels so it makes the Scottish universities look like they're full of geniuses. The A-Level grades stated on their websites are the best guide possible to actual aptitude of the average student there for that course.

St Andrews looks highly picturesque in its ancientness in videos. It's easy to see why it's popular with some American students - it's got that Princeton kind of look to it. That said, I visited as a tourist out of term time and it was so unlively and low scale feeling. I didn't get an impression of how the university is spread out but Durham generally has all the older colleges (most in converted Georgian townhouses apart from the castle, Hatfield and, separate from those, St Hild and St Bede) together. Quite a bicycle ride away from these is the more recent 1960s to present colleges. Durham feels to me like a campus university that just happens to be split up and based in some old buildings sometimes. That'll be because those old colleges are massively secreted away from what a tourist or passerby would see. It's not like at Oxford and Cambridge where you can get a sense of what it's like inside. You have to look on YouTube videos or actually be a student there to get an idea. And. I can see some of those old Durham colleges are rather nice indeed in a Georgian meets Victorian way. Not as old as St Andrews (although the castle at Durham used as University College since the 1800s, dates to the 11th century) and I suspect that St Andrews 'is' the university (and the golf) more than quite be the case at Durham. Durham definitely has a more modern feel in much of it - a multiplex cinema, a modern theatre. And it's only 30 mins from Newcastle (St Andrews is only 30 minutes from Dundee).
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 2
Original post by Picnicl
The reason that not only St Andrews but many Scottish universities rank highly on CUG for average entry grades achieved is because a smaller proportion of people with A Levels go to Scottish universities than to English ones. Scottish students tend to take more Scottish Highers than English students take A Levels so it makes the Scottish universities look like they're full of geniuses. The A-Level grades stated on their websites are the best guide possible to actual aptitude of the average student there for that course.
St Andrews looks highly picturesque in its ancientness in videos. It's easy to see why it's popular with some American students - it's got that Princeton kind of look to it, albeit on a smaller scale.That said, I visited as a tourist out of term time and it was so unlively and low scale feeling. I didn't get an impression of how the university is spread out but Durham generally has all the older colleges (most in converted Georgian townhouses apart from the castle, Hatfield and, separate from those, St Hild and St Bede) together. Quite a bicycle ride away from these is the more recent 1960s to present colleges. Durham feels to me like a campus university that just happens to be split up and based in some old buildings sometimes. That'll be because those old colleges are massively secreted away from what a tourist or passerby would see. It's not like at Oxford and Cambridge where you can get a sense of what it's like inside. You have to look on YouTube videos or actually be a student there to get an idea. And. I can see some of those old Durham colleges are rather nice indeed in a Georgian meets Victorian way. Not as old as St Andrews and I suspect that St Andrews 'is' the university (and the golf) more than quite be the case at Durham. Durham definitely has a more modern feel in much of it - a multiplex cinema, a modern theatre. And it's only 30 mins from Newcastle (St Andrews is only 30 minutes from Dundee).

Interesting, good to hear your point of view. Definitely hard to judge from an outsider perspective of St Andrews having not visited. I've been to Durham though. Will take your perspective into account thank you
Reply 3
As you say, Durham is ranking higher for Computer Science. Research quality for it is 86% at Durham, 79% at St Andrews. The St Andrews Computer Science building is not as new. But the student satisfaction at St Andrews for this subject is just a little higher (81% v 78%). Now, student satisfaction can only get you so far. It's very nebulous as it can be so affected by how difficult the degree was so Oxford and Cambridge don't even monitor, or at least publish, how satisfied their students are to the CUG. Also, students paying more to attend a university, or being at the universities seen as having high prestige, are going to have more cause to feel dissatisfied if it doesn't reach a certain expected standard for them. Also, some universities could easily put implicit expectation on students that they're 'feeling satisfied'. It wouldn't take much, would it? 'Field trips'/fun away days. Motivational speak. Reminders to vote etc. And you'd have more 'need' to try to feel satisfied at St Andrews because the university is more the place. If you don't feel satisfied with your university there, you're not going to have a whole lot more things going on there to make your life feel better. St Andrews is currently on 84% student satisfaction for all subjects as a whole (first of all universities and immediately followed by some much less prestigious universities). Durham is on 78%, which is above Glasgow, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol, KCL, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds
That said, if a university is getting less than, say, 65% student satisfaction, it's possibly not doing some things as well as it might. But no UK universities do, for all subjects on average at least.

As universities as a whole, these two could hardly be more equal. If prestige is partly suggested by the percentage of private school students there, at St Andrews it's currently 40%, at Durham it's 39% (at Oxbridge, particularly Cambridge, they've been trying to find ways to increase state school acceptance). Obviously, at St Andrews you'll do an extra year. The Scottish system allows you to study other subjects for so long (including ones that seem generally unrelated to Computing) without necessarily doing a joint degree with them.
Durham's research quality for all subjects is 3.34 out of 4, St Andrews 3.31 out of 4. They both come to 83% so essentially equals. St Andrews research intensity is 71%, Durham's 70% so just about equals.

You mentioned about liking the potential to meet international students. St Andrews has the 5th highest percentage of all UK universities, after 4 London universities, on 45.9%, however St Andrews is a small university so only 5425 students are international. At Durham, it's 30% (26% from outside of the EU, 4% from the EU), which comes to over 4500 students so St Andrews still has a greater number of international students. Durham is specifically trying to increase its percentage to 39% because the very best people for a course don't necessarily mostly live in the UK obviously.

There is a bigger gender gap at St Andrews. At Durham, 54% of students are male, 46% female. At St Andrews, 59% female and 41% male.

It's not necessarily that St Andrews is trying to be more feminist. The place and range of available courses might just appeal to female students more. Considerably more teaching staff at St Andrews are male (66.5%) than female (33.5%). At Durham, it's 58% male teachers, 42% female.

You should really visit St Andrews during term time (and must be Monday to Friday) to get a sense of what I couldn't during its downtime. If it's somewhere you might spend several years, it's the least you should do. While up there, you could visit Dundee and Edinburgh, make a little break of it. I hope to revisit St Andrews one day as a tourist during term time. I still don't know if it's a place I'd be happy to spend so long living. I require fresh stimulation a lot so would likely find it too low key and the traditions more like a forced way to create some entertainment in quite an isolated place. If I was blanked by the private school or international intake there I'd be far more annoyed or disheartened than I would be at Durham. That said, I'd really like to be proven wrong about the feel of St Andrews during term time so have a visit.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 4
Original post by Picnicl
As you say, Durham is ranking higher for Computer Science. Research quality for it is 86% at Durham, 79% at St Andrews. The St Andrews Computer Science building is not as new. But the student satisfaction at St Andrews for this subject is just a little higher (81% v 78%). Now, student satisfaction can only get you so far. It's very nebulous as it can be so affected by how difficult the degree was so Oxford and Cambridge don't even monitor, or at least publish, how satisfied their students are to the CUG. Also, students paying more to attend a university, or being at the universities seen as having high prestige, are going to have more cause to feel dissatisfied if it doesn't reach a certain expected standard for them. Also, some universities could easily put implicit expectation on students that they're 'feeling satisfied'. It wouldn't take much, would it? 'Field trips'/fun away days. Motivational speak. Reminders to vote etc. And you'd have more 'need' to try to feel satisfied at St Andrews because the university is more the place. If you don't feel satisfied with your university there, you're not going to have a whole lot more things going on there to make your life feel better. St Andrews is currently on 84% student satisfaction for all subjects as a whole (first of all universities and immediately followed by some much less prestigious universities). Durham is on 78%, which is above Glasgow, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol, KCL, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds
That said, if a university is getting less than, say, 65% student satisfaction, it's possibly not doing some things as well as it might. But no UK universities do, for all subjects on average at least.
As universities as a whole, these two could hardly be more equal. If prestige is partly suggested by the percentage of private school students there, at St Andrews it's currently 40%, at Durham it's 39% (at Oxbridge, particularly Cambridge, they've been trying to find ways to increase state school acceptance, sometimes, it might be said, at the cost of an equally good or better/better suited private school applicant). Obviously, at St Andrews you'll do an extra year. The Scottish system allows you to study other subjects for so long (including ones that seem generally unrelated to Computing) without necessarily doing a joint degree with them.
Durham's research quality for all subjects is 3.34 out of 4, St Andrews 3.31 out of 4. They both come to 83% so essentially equals. St Andrews research intensity is 71%, Durham's 70% so just about equals.
You mentioned about liking the potential to meet international students. St Andrews has the 5th highest percentage of all UK universities, after 4 London universities, on 45.9%, however St Andrews is a small university so only 5425 students are international. At Durham, it's 30% (26% from outside of the EU, 4% from the EU), which comes to over 4500 students so St Andrews still has a greater number of international students. Durham is specifically trying to increase its percentage to 39% because the very best people for a course don't necessarily mostly live in the UK obviously.
There is a bigger gender gap at St Andrews. At Durham, 54% of students are male, 46% female. At St Andrews, 59% female and 41% male.
It's not necessarily that St Andrews is trying to be more feminist. The place and range of available courses might just appeal to female students more. Considerably more teaching staff at St Andrews are male (66.5%) than female (33.5%). At Durham, it's 58% male teachers, 42% female.
You should really visit St Andrews during term time (and must be Monday to Friday) to get a sense of what I couldn't during its downtime. If it's somewhere you might spend several years, it's the least you should do. While up there, you could visit Dundee and Edinburgh, make a little break of it. I hope to revisit St Andrews one day as a tourist during term time. I still don't know if it'd a place I'd be happy to spend so long living. I require fresh stimulation a lot so would likely find it too low key and the traditions more like a forced way to create some entertainment in quite an isolated place. If I was blanked by the private school or international lot there I'd be far more annoyed or disheartened than I would be at Durham. That said, I'd really like to be proven wrong about the feel of St Andrews during term time so have a visit.

Yeah, I agree with a lot of this, visiting certainly would help. The trouble is I booked the UCL STAT test for the day after St Andrews CS offer holder day so cannot really attend - unless I went to Scotland and back in a day which would set me up poorly for the STAT the following day. I think I'll see if I can speak to someone from their CS department over the phone and run them through my queries, should give me more insight.

Interestingly also if I think more long-term St Andrews graduates on average earn more post-degree, which is another point of contention since I have been leaning toward Durham, according to most data I could find they were looking at about 40k whereas Durham 33k. This observed gap closes by about 7.5% after five years to 53,5k for St Andrews and 48k for Durham but still shows a 10% disparity in that regard which is another factor I have to consider. Then again American CS jobs pay orders of magnitude more than UK ones, and considering St Andrews has a higher proportion of US students in direct comparison to Durham it's hard to tell if those statistics hold much weight.
Reply 5
Original post by Picnicl
In the picturesque, old, universities highly rated for Computing, of about the same grades, that aren't in London sector, did you consider Edinburgh and Glasgow too?

Nope, Durham and St Andrews were both supposed to be backups but it looks like they'll be my only offers unless I can get UCL but statistically that's a roll of the dice
Reply 6
Original post by Picnicl
The reason that not only St Andrews but many Scottish universities rank highly on CUG for average entry grades achieved is because a smaller proportion of people with A Levels go to Scottish universities than to English ones. Scottish students tend to take more Scottish Highers than English students take A Levels so it makes the Scottish universities look like they're full of geniuses. The A-Level grades stated on their websites are the best guide possible to actual aptitude of the average student there for that course.
St Andrews looks highly picturesque in its ancientness in videos. It's easy to see why it's popular with some American students - it's got that Princeton kind of look to it, albeit on a smaller scale. That said, I visited as a tourist out of term time and it was so unlively and low scale feeling. I didn't get an impression of how the university is spread out but Durham generally has all the older colleges (most in converted Georgian townhouses apart from the castle, Hatfield and, separate from those, St Hild and St Bede) together. Quite a bicycle ride away from these is the more recent 1960s to present colleges. Durham feels to me like a campus university that just happens to be split up and based in some old buildings sometimes. That'll be because those old colleges are massively secreted away from what a tourist or passerby would see. It's not like at Oxford and Cambridge where you can get a sense of what it's like inside. You have to look on YouTube videos or actually be a student there to get an idea. And. I can see some of those old Durham colleges are rather nice indeed in a Georgian meets Victorian way. Not as old as St Andrews (although the castle at Durham used as University College since the 1800s, dates to the 11th century) and I suspect that St Andrews 'is' the university (and the golf) more than quite be the case at Durham. Durham definitely has a more modern feel in much of it - a multiplex cinema, a modern theatre. And it's only 30 mins from Newcastle (St Andrews is only 30 minutes from Dundee).

On UCAS tariff points,see the table on this page comparing A levels and Scottish qualifications:

https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/ucas-application/new-ucas-tariff-everything-you-need-to-know

A Scottish student with 5 As at Higher will have broadly similar tariff points as someone with 3 A* at A level - and those are the qualifications that the uni is looking at in applications. The difference in league tables comes because many of those students will sit Advanced Highers or more Highers before going to uni and will accrue more tariff points. So yes it does skew things a bit, if you then look at tariff points for students on entry to the uni.

In terms of ability though the A level grades stated on the website are not always the best guide to the aptitude of the average student. St Andrews state the level of grades that you need to have (or be predicted to achieve) in order to be considered. In reality many applicants will exceed those grades and they will make offers to students with grades higher than those stated on their website. You can see this from the number of students with higher grades who are rejected each year.

In terms of comparing Durham and St Andrews, I'd definitely recommend visiting St Andrews. Some people love it, others don't!
Reply 7
Original post by S1098
On UCAS tariff points,see the table on this page comparing A levels and Scottish qualifications:
https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/ucas-application/new-ucas-tariff-everything-you-need-to-know
A Scottish student with 5 As at Higher will have broadly similar tariff points as someone with 3 A* at A level - and those are the qualifications that the uni is looking at in applications. The difference in league tables comes because many of those students will sit Advanced Highers or more Highers before going to uni and will accrue more tariff points. So yes it does skew things a bit, if you then look at tariff points for students on entry to the uni.
In terms of ability though the A level grades stated on the website are not always the best guide to the aptitude of the average student. St Andrews state the level of grades that you need to have (or be predicted to achieve) in order to be considered. In reality many applicants will exceed those grades and they will make offers to students with grades higher than those stated on their website. You can see this from the number of students with higher grades who are rejected each year.
In terms of comparing Durham and St Andrews, I'd definitely recommend visiting St Andrews. Some people love it, others don't!

Very helpful thank you, I've seen a few statistics direct via UCAS, in which they showed that on average most entrants into St Andrews CS course had A*AA and the same for Durham. So it checks out that AAA would be a minimum recommended. Durham had a marginally higher proportion with all a-stars at about ~19% but a broader range of grades. St Andrews never went below AAA standard, Durham had a few AABs. All interesting stuff and shows just how similar entrants into either course are academically.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 8
Im in a similar situation to you and struggling to pick between these two for Computer Science. I visited St Andrews and all the students there seem genuinely very satisfied with the course. It is very practical based and the small population creates a nice community for both the cs students and the uni in general.

It seems to be very good for actually becoming good at programming since its different to most cs degrees cus they have u doing lots of projects and coursework to actually apply the theory but other universities dont do that as much. This is the reason why they have good graduate prospects cus employers prefer skills rather than uni name for cs jobs so st andrews sets u up well for that. They also structure lectures so its more related with whats currently going on in the world rather than just reusing old slides and the student concerns get dealt with very quickly which is part of why the student satisfaction is so high. I was warned however, that the course is very demanding with the amount of coursework you get so be ready for that. Tbh I would say it’s really worth a visit if possible, it’s so hard to know what its like without seeing it urself.

As for Durham, I haven’t visited yet but I might do soon. They have a rlly nice new cs building from what I’ve seen and the graduate prospects seem quite good too. I have also heard that this course is very hard and the course is very theoretical. This could be a good thing as it helps u build a very good understanding of Computer Science but apparently its advised to spend a lot of ur free time doing projects to actually apply the theory and be ready for job applications. Durham also has a larger student population and more stuff to do in town. None of the st andrews students seemed bored though, they all seemed to really love it. They have their own traditions and stuff they do for fun. So there is stuff to do, its just a different type of student lifestyle than other unis.

I’m also unsure which to pick, both have their advantages. If I visit Durham maybe I could have more of an idea, what did you think of Durham when you visited?
Reply 9
Original post by MayOM1
Im in a similar situation to you and struggling to pick between these two for Computer Science. I visited St Andrews and all the students there seem genuinely very satisfied with the course. It is very practical based and the small population creates a nice community for both the cs students and the uni in general.
It seems to be very good for actually becoming good at programming since its different to most cs degrees cus they have u doing lots of projects and coursework to actually apply the theory but other universities dont do that as much. This is the reason why they have good graduate prospects cus employers prefer skills rather than uni name for cs jobs so st andrews sets u up well for that. They also structure lectures so its more related with whats currently going on in the world rather than just reusing old slides and the student concerns get dealt with very quickly which is part of why the student satisfaction is so high. I was warned however, that the course is very demanding with the amount of coursework you get so be ready for that. Tbh I would say it’s really worth a visit if possible, it’s so hard to know what its like without seeing it urself.
As for Durham, I haven’t visited yet but I might do soon. They have a rlly nice new cs building from what I’ve seen and the graduate prospects seem quite good too. I have also heard that this course is very hard and the course is very theoretical. This could be a good thing as it helps u build a very good understanding of Computer Science but apparently its advised to spend a lot of ur free time doing projects to actually apply the theory and be ready for job applications. Durham also has a larger student population and more stuff to do in town. None of the st andrews students seemed bored though, they all seemed to really love it. They have their own traditions and stuff they do for fun. So there is stuff to do, its just a different type of student lifestyle than other unis.
I’m also unsure which to pick, both have their advantages. If I visit Durham maybe I could have more of an idea, what did you think of Durham when you visited?

Thanks for the insight into St Andrews!
I felt Durham's strongest selling point was their facilities. The library and CS building were great and it certainly felt like they wanted to keep investing in CS and grow the department further (I've also seen this emphasized in their strategic plan).

Lecturers seemed friendly too, and students were passionate about the subject. I felt their biggest strength was facilities, massive library, new colleges etc. The city centre was also very nice and paired well with the university. I didn't feel like I got much info on the course while I was there, their departmental session was essentially CS lesson which while useful for someone unsure about taking the course, it wasn't particularly useful for me. Overall though your analysis seems on point - theoretical course, great facilities.
Original post by Bolognase
Hello all.
I am stuck deciding between Durham or St Andrews. In your own biased opinion, how can anyone decide between the two! I'm struggling to do so, they both have so many strengths which makes it incredibly difficult to pick who I should firm.
These are the five key factors halting my decision.
1. Conflicting rankings
- StA dominates in general rankings, topping two tables at first and falling fourth overall in CUG and is mostly above Durham in general rankings.
- But... Durham ranks above StA for CS specifically, this is one of the first years that's the case with StA having gotten 3rd and 5th in prior years, I am curious why CUG placed it 10th this year and the motivation behind that decision, and then again domestic rankings are so inconsistent that next year it could easily be the opposite.
2. Durhams facilities
- Durhams new £40mil+ building is phenomenal and their new colleges and refurbished library make for an amazing set of facilities,
- But.. I know very little about the facilities I would get at StA with it being a little too far away for me to visit and I cannot find much about the facilities they offer online, so I would be judging only one side of the coin.
3. St Andrews has 45% international students
- This statistic generally appeals to me, I think it would be great to know and work alongside international students, would make the university experience more interesting in a sense. But Durham still has loads international students and is by no means entirely UK.
4. St Andrews is more selective with higher average UCAS tariff
- Selectivity != quality or passion of students, but it plays a part and knowing that they are more selective (16% vs roughly 40%) and their students on average hold more UCAS points. It's an interesting statistic to consider when comparing the two - what makes them more selective?
5. St Andrews asks for lower grades
- Lastly StA advertises lower grade requirements than Durham, I wonder if they want a larger pool of applicants to choose from or whether it's to make their offers more attractive. It could also be argued that the higher selectivity is a result of the AAA requirement, and Durhams lower selectivity is a result of the higher A*AA requirement so I'm not sure what to make of it. I could easily see StA still getting many applicants with A*AA requirements.
They are both great universities and each have so much going for them. Thoughts? Would love to hear from current students at either University

I would pick Durham over St Andrews.
Reply 11
Original post by Bolognase
Thanks for the insight into St Andrews!
I felt Durham's strongest selling point was their facilities. The library and CS building were great and it certainly felt like they wanted to keep investing in CS and grow the department further (I've also seen this emphasized in their strategic plan).
Lecturers seemed friendly too, and students were passionate about the subject. I felt their biggest strength was facilities, massive library, new colleges etc. The city centre was also very nice and paired well with the university. I didn't feel like I got much info on the course while I was there, their departmental session was essentially CS lesson which while useful for someone unsure about taking the course, it wasn't particularly useful for me. Overall though your analysis seems on point - theoretical course, great facilities.

Np, and thanks for the info on Durham. St Andrews also seem like they want to invest in CS, they told us they are getting a new building but it’s set to open in 2028 so wont rlly make a difference to us. Did they give info about how they plan to grow the Durham CS department? The St Andrews one is decent, it’s just quite small so nothing rlly special. Are you currently leaning towards either of them?
Reply 12
Original post by SilverPebble
I would pick Durham over St Andrews.

For what reasons?
Original post by MayOM1
Im in a similar situation to you and struggling to pick between these two for Computer Science. I visited St Andrews and all the students there seem genuinely very satisfied with the course. It is very practical based and the small population creates a nice community for both the cs students and the uni in general.
It seems to be very good for actually becoming good at programming since its different to most cs degrees cus they have u doing lots of projects and coursework to actually apply the theory but other universities dont do that as much. This is the reason why they have good graduate prospects cus employers prefer skills rather than uni name for cs jobs so st andrews sets u up well for that. They also structure lectures so its more related with whats currently going on in the world rather than just reusing old slides and the student concerns get dealt with very quickly which is part of why the student satisfaction is so high. I was warned however, that the course is very demanding with the amount of coursework you get so be ready for that. Tbh I would say it’s really worth a visit if possible, it’s so hard to know what its like without seeing it urself.
As for Durham, I haven’t visited yet but I might do soon. They have a rlly nice new cs building from what I’ve seen and the graduate prospects seem quite good too. I have also heard that this course is very hard and the course is very theoretical. This could be a good thing as it helps u build a very good understanding of Computer Science but apparently its advised to spend a lot of ur free time doing projects to actually apply the theory and be ready for job applications. Durham also has a larger student population and more stuff to do in town. None of the st andrews students seemed bored though, they all seemed to really love it. They have their own traditions and stuff they do for fun. So there is stuff to do, its just a different type of student lifestyle than other unis.
I’m also unsure which to pick, both have their advantages. If I visit Durham maybe I could have more of an idea, what did you think of Durham when you visited?

i personally would say the facilities are by far the worst aspect of St Andrews. everything else was an easy win on a head-to-head basis with Durham for me personally, as you summarise well. the main thing is the 4 year Scottish degree structure vs the 3 year English one
Reply 14
Original post by A Rolling Stone
i personally would say the facilities are by far the worst aspect of St Andrews. everything else was an easy win on a head-to-head basis with Durham for me personally, as you summarise well. the main thing is the 4 year Scottish degree structure vs the 3 year English one

True but its not like St Andrews has bad facilities, its just that Durham has much better facilities, might have to see it myself to decide. I was fortunate enough to receive an offer for direct entry into second year for the St Andrews course and you can also ask to switch when you get there so that shouldn't be a problem for me atleast. The main thing I'm trying to figure out is if the Durham course being very theoretical is better or worse than the St Andrews course involving a lot of practical work.
Reply 15
Original post by Bolognase
Hello all.
I am stuck deciding between Durham or St Andrews. In your own biased opinion, how can anyone decide between the two! I'm struggling to do so, they both have so many strengths which makes it incredibly difficult to pick who I should firm.
These are the five key factors halting my decision.
1. Conflicting rankings
- StA dominates in general rankings, topping two tables at first and falling fourth overall in CUG and is mostly above Durham in general rankings.
- But... Durham ranks above StA for CS specifically, this is one of the first years that's the case with StA having gotten 3rd and 5th in prior years, I am curious why CUG placed it 10th this year and the motivation behind that decision, and then again domestic rankings are so inconsistent that next year it could easily be the opposite.
2. Durhams facilities
- Durhams new £40mil+ building is phenomenal and their new colleges and refurbished library make for an amazing set of facilities,
- But.. I know very little about the facilities I would get at StA with it being a little too far away for me to visit and I cannot find much about the facilities they offer online, so I would be judging only one side of the coin.
3. St Andrews has 45% international students
- This statistic generally appeals to me, I think it would be great to know and work alongside international students, would make the university experience more interesting in a sense. But Durham still has loads international students and is by no means entirely UK.
4. St Andrews is more selective with higher average UCAS tariff
- Selectivity != quality or passion of students, but it plays a part and knowing that they are more selective (16% vs roughly 40%) and their students on average hold more UCAS points. It's an interesting statistic to consider when comparing the two - what makes them more selective?
5. St Andrews asks for lower grades
- Lastly StA advertises lower grade requirements than Durham, I wonder if they want a larger pool of applicants to choose from or whether it's to make their offers more attractive. It could also be argued that the higher selectivity is a result of the AAA requirement, and Durhams lower selectivity is a result of the higher A*AA requirement so I'm not sure what to make of it. I could easily see StA still getting many applicants with A*AA requirements.
They are both great universities and each have so much going for them. Thoughts? Would love to hear from current students at either University

I’m visiting St Andrews in 2 days for the open day so I can let you know about the town/facilities. Albeit I will not be going inside the CS department since I am looking for psychology, so may not be able to give you much information there.
Original post by MayOM1
For what reasons?

Location, mainly - if there isn't anything screaming "pick me" about either of the courses, then I'd prefer to be in Durham than in St Andrews. Durham is small, but St Andrews is miniscule. Durham has Newcastle on the doorstep, plus mainline transport connections with the rest of the UK. St Andrews is further away from everywhere else apart from the north of Scotland. If everything goes well, then either Durham or St Andrews would be good. But if you meet any problems, discover you want a wider social circle, want to escape for a bit, feel claustrophobic in the city ... then Durham is a better location.
Reply 17
Original post by MayOM1
Np, and thanks for the info on Durham. St Andrews also seem like they want to invest in CS, they told us they are getting a new building but it’s set to open in 2028 so wont rlly make a difference to us. Did they give info about how they plan to grow the Durham CS department? The St Andrews one is decent, it’s just quite small so nothing rlly special. Are you currently leaning towards either of them?

Yeah 2028 is late, that's a shame because if St Andrews had a new building just like Durham it'd make the course much more attractive. I think I'm leaning towards Durham but really by a marginal amount and anything could sway me either way.

By the looks of it Durham's plan to grow the department generally involves taking on more staff and students. They're coming toward the end of that plan though, since it originally involved the new building which is already in use, they'll revise their strategic plan in 2027
Reply 18
Original post by Lugg13
I’m visiting St Andrews in 2 days for the open day so I can let you know about the town/facilities. Albeit I will not be going inside the CS department since I am looking for psychology, so may not be able to give you much information there.

This would be helpful, thanks!
Reply 19
Original post by MayOM1
True but its not like St Andrews has bad facilities, its just that Durham has much better facilities, might have to see it myself to decide. I was fortunate enough to receive an offer for direct entry into second year for the St Andrews course and you can also ask to switch when you get there so that shouldn't be a problem for me atleast. The main thing I'm trying to figure out is if the Durham course being very theoretical is better or worse than the St Andrews course involving a lot of practical work.

Imo practical course content is far stronger than theoretical. Theory only gets you so far, CS is such a practical subject and that's what employers look for in graduates - practical experience.

It's another of the many reasons it's so difficult to decide between the two, since it's hard to tell if 'weaker' facilities but a practical degree is better or worse than stronger facilities but a theoretical degree.

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