Location: Durham, England, UK
Funding: Public University
Size: There are around 17,000 students.
Percent Women: 53%
Tuition (one year): £9,000 in addition to college fees which average at an annual rate of £6,000. International Fees are more expensive and vary from £14900-£18900 depending on the subject you wish to study.
Most Popular Majors: History, English, Modern Languages, Business School, Law, Education and Mathematical Sciences.
Greek Life: No
Acceptance Rate: Around 15% of applications are successful.
For more information about financial air, scholarships, majors, study abroad, and average test scores, visit Durham University's website at https://www.dur.ac.uk/.
Why Choose Durham?
Well, first of all it’s a very good university in terms of academics. Ranked as the 5th best University overall in the UK and the best for subjects like English and History. It is also one of the top 100 in the world (The Times Higher Education World ranking 2014). 96% of all undergraduates successfully complete their degree (The Times Good University Guide 2014), so there’s a good chance you will as well!
One collegiette told us: "I feel very privileged to have been accepted to Durham University. I still remember the night UCAS sent me the positive update!"
Another commented: 'I still can't beleive I actually got in! I still have to pinch myself every time I walk past the Cathedral to check this isn't all a dream.'
Aside from the strong academical background, you may be wondering: ‘will I have a good time the next 3 or 4 years?’. Yes, you will! If you’re into sport; Durham has over 52 University sports clubs and over 400 College sports sides - from beginners to professionals. The college is a good place to try something new. If you're more into Drama then that's fine too! Durham is home to the largest Student-run theatre company in the UK; putting on 63 shows a year, about 6 time the number that other UK univerisites put on! There are chances to act, produce, direct, tech direct and even write your own shows!
"The 'Durham Difference' is what makes this place so special"
Lucy Beresford, Trevelyan 1984-87, author of Something I'm Not said that "Durham made me believe in myself, gave me the confidence to aim high."
Durham has colleges, just like Cambridge and Oxford, which vary in size, location and traditions. The most traditional have gowns and weekly formals and if you apply to University College, you will have your supper in the castle's great hall. Others are more modern – but they all have their unique traditions, making Durham a very special place to be.
We interviewed two girls, one from a hill college and the other from a bailey college; the latter the more traditional of the two.
St Hild & St Bede: "Formals are special because they don't happen that often, but when they do, it's a huge occasion and the whole college gets involved. Being from a 'Hill college', we don't have as many traditions, however, the team effort of the staff and society in charge really make formal one of the highlights of the academic year!"
St Chad's College: "Formals happen twice a week and attendance depends on the season; it tends to be that during first term you can barely find a seat but when exam term approaches, most people opt for a quick meal in the dining room! We wear gowns at Chad's on top of our formal clothes. The food is usually good and the 'high-table' (the top table composed of St Chad's colleges' 'top dogs') add to the sophisticated feel of the evening."
While Durham is a beautiful city, and the university unrivalled in many ways, there are still a few little things we think could be improved.
The Durham Student's Union (DSU). To begin with, the building itself is pretty unsightly due to a flaw in the building process, and though this can’t be helped, it’s not beautiful to look at as you cross Kingsgate Bridge on your way into town.
"It doesn’t function as the same sort of union as other universities. Due to the college system and JCRs, there is little need for a big union night like places in Manchester." The girls interviewed agreed that a new kind of club night would be very welcomed in Durham – bring it back!
Transport. This time last year we had the Nightbus (now out of action due to lack of drivers), and up until a few weeks ago there were regular services for the U1 to take you to the hill colleges or Neville’s Cross, though those have now been reduced. The lack of university-organised transport is a pain sometimes, especially if you live out.
One girl asked said that she would "want to cycle, but it's quite dangerous... There are few/no cycle lanes, and too many roundabouts for a novice like me to handle! The cobbles aren't a cyclist's best friend, either."
However, in many respects Durham are ahead of themselves, with all transport via bus free for any student. This means that it is incredibly easy to get from Queen's Campus to the main Durham one!
Bill Bryson library. It’s not the easiest of buildings to navigate, and the constant moving around of books can induce bouts of confusion and walking round in circles searching for your subject. And I’m sure they could design a better place to eat than in the freezing cold foyer where you have to use your card to get out! The electronic shelves recently put in place often cause a bit of hassle, too! "Every time I use them I am afraid of getting trapped inside!"
New Collegiette on Campus
Annie Davison, 1st year, Trevelyan
"Since I live in Northumberland, I have visited Durham many times before and know the city well - it already feels like home. However College life is an interesting and unique experience and on that took a period of adjustment. I am loving the ease with which you can get involved, socialise and have fun whilst also having your own, great facilities to work in."
Abby Ward, 1st year, Collingwood
"Even after just one term at Durham, it has been a fantastic experience! University life here has exceeded my expectations which I attribute to the fantastic collegiate system that is offered here. College life lends itself to a friendly and informal atmosphere where you can work hard while meeting new people all the time at college formals - everyone is like a big family in the Collingwood bubble!"
All About Academics
Ranked sixth in 'The Sunday Times University Guide 2014', following universities including Oxbridge and LSE, Durham boasts a strong academic status. The University therefore attracts high quality students with a desire to learn.
Mary from Chad's said that "the standard of work expected is high, however, your lecturers, seminar leaders, and academic advisors are always there to help. Their door is always open and they welcome your ideas. I feel that I have been given the chance to really think for myself and can now be critical about my work. The teaching at Durham University and the approach to education is what has enabled this."
Learn from the Best
Dr Miles-Watson, Theology lecturer at Durham (one of the modules he teaches is 2nd year Myth and Meaning):
"One of the things that I value most about Durham is the way that undergraduate instruction and serious research are mutually integrated. For me, this means that students are not simply presented with a static set of information that they have to memorise, but rather are encouraged to creatively engage with the research process. You might say that the undergraduate module is a sort of adventurous quest, undertaken by a fellowship of heroes, a collective journeying into a perilous territory that while not unknown is constantly shifting...the instructor’s role in this then is as a sort of guide, as someone who has travelled these paths before, but whose own life, research and understanding, is also transformed by the ever fresh encounters that they will have there."
"The enthusiasm that our lecturers show is what makes going to lectures interesting"
Interests & Involvement
There is a huge range of extra-curricular activities available and countless ways to get involved in university life beyond the academic requirements of your degree. Durham Students' Union has over 200 societies, which cover every imaginable interest or activity.
SPORTS: A glance around the library at the sea of purple Team Durham tracksuits will confirm that sports plays a large role in Durham’s university life. Over 90% of students participate in sport at some level, whether this is simply friendly college matches or national competitions with Team Durham.
"Not having lectures on Wednesday afternoons accommodates training sessions and ensures that every student has the opportunity to develop new skills and de-stress when the 24/7 library opening hours become too much!"
THEATRE: The performing arts thrive at Durham University and the standard of performance is exceptionally high. With over 600 members in the DST and several highly regarded comedy societies, we have one of the largest student theatre organizations in the country.
A Member of the DST Executive team told us that "DST is run entirely by students, so there are opportunities in directing, producing, tech management, box office and even the possibility of setting up your own amateur theatre company."
MUSIC: There is an extraordinary amount of musical talent bustling around Durham and this is exhibited in an array of ensembles and musical events that take place throughout the year. Some of our music societies include Big Band, Chamber Choir, Gospel, Orchestra, Durham Light Opera Group and African Drumming.
"There is a huge range of opportunities on offer if you are interested in music. There are also fantastic facilities and societies available within each of the colleges, some of which include their very own practice rooms and recording studios!"
MEDIA: Think you’re the next big BBC journalist? Durham offers a whopping range of opportunities to develop skills pertinent for any career in the industry. Each college has their own magazine, and there are countless student newspapers, such as Palatinate, The Tab, The Bubble and, of course, Her Campus! If you prefer thinking on your feet, Purple Radio is our student run radio station that broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week catering for all those students cramming in a summative at 3am in the library needing a bit of a Beyonce break. This year Durham has also launched it’s own online TV channel, which keeps students in the loop on upcoming events and current affairs.
"It really is amazing how much Durham has to offer - there is something for everyone"
DUCK: Our award-winning charity committee consistently raises funds for over 120 charitable causes to support local, national and international projects through student-organized events. Each college has their own group of representatives so everyone has the opportunity to get involved in some capacity whether it’s through a sporting endeavour, the annual Jail-Break, managing an event or contributing to a good old bake sale!
Rose: "Being part of DUCK has changed my university experience; not only have I gained invaluable skills for the future, I have met some great people and have had a great deal of fun"
At Durham University there are 15 undergraduate colleges, and one postgrad college. All the colleges are very different, and they generally focus on different activites. For example, some colleges heavily promote music, whereas others may be known for being a sporty college.
"Being part of a college is like having a family away from home; regardless of the college's size, the college atmosphere and often rivalry adds an extra dimension of fun to sports and activities. As this is my first degree, I haven't experienced anything different, however, I can't imagine that many universities share this strong sense of community."
Girl power is not just about flower power on one side and bra burning feminism on the other. At Durham, we are lucky to have real equality by virtue of the fact that the university celebrates women and men together. There are opportunities for girls throughout campus including the Durham University Women in Business society aiming to empower students with entrepreneurial flair in sharpening their business and entrepreneurial minds. On the sports pitches the women's rugby teams are in the top 3 in the UK league. There is also a feminist society and countless other societies and groups contributing to the success and confidence of our fellow Durham students.
"Being part of the Durham University Women in Business Society has been a huge part of my year; it is fantastic experience for hosting events and working on your organisational and teamwork skills, but it also acts as a platform for women to get together and prove that they can make a difference."
Food & Drink
Durham has a plethora of food and drink establishments, from the Starbucks and Costa chains to one-off, cosy places unique to Durham. Forget bar crawls, coffee crawls are the rage here! In fact, there are so many that even by the time you graduate you won't have tried them all.
For the perfect Vanilla Chai Latte and a glorious homemade cake, head to Flat White next to world-renowned club Klute! The rustique decor alongside the effortless and homely feel will no doubt make you want to head there early to grab a table.
"Flat White is a must! You can't be a student at Durham and not try it"
Celebrating? Whiskey River is a must! Delicious cocktails will be enjoyed in this secretive location with views of the river. If you feel like something slightly more sophisticated, Eboney the Champagne Bar next to much loved Lloyds and Loveshack serves up a delicious Bellini alongside a number of other classic cocktails.
"The College Bars at Durham are great, however, if you're looking for something different, cocktails at Whiskey River or Eboney are a bit of a treat"
The Cellar Door is the perfect place to go for a delicious, very ‘unstudenty’ meal – if your parents are looking for somewhere to take you on their visit, then this is the place. Don’t be alarmed by the slightly unwelcoming entrance; the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ epitomises this restaurant. Down the steep stairs, the beautifully calm restaurant will most definitely serve up a culinary experience to remember.
"Whenever my parents come to visit, this is where I drag them! It gives a pleasant break from over-ridden carb-college-loading!" Ella from Aiden's
Durham has a thriving social scene with something for everyone, and lots of ways to meet new people. Sport is instrumental in this - whether you want to play at a relaxed college level or compete on one of the high-performing Team Durham squads. Beyond sports there are a multitude of other societies to get involved with - whether that's subject linked, linguistic, charities, musical or dramatic!
"The huge amount of societies at Durham opens up your social group - it is a great way to make friends"
The nightlife is just as varied - each college bar has a unique atmosphere, and the clubs range from alternative live music venue Fishtank to chart-toppers in Loveshack. And if there is anything you think Durham is missing or want to experience a city atmosphere, Newcastle is a thriving hub just 15 minutes away by train.
"Wednesday night is usually the biggest night! The evening usually begins with drinks at home, then the college bars and then either LoveShack or Lloyd's! Thursday 9am lectures tend to be awfully empty as a result..."
The sizes of the colleges vary greatly, giving each college its own “feel.” The locations of the colleges are also very important, with some being on the “Bailey”, others on the “Hill” and two in Queens' Campus, just outside Durham. Because each college varies greatly, there is much inter-college rivalry, as each college competes in sports matches, fundraising events and many many more!
In your first year, you may have a roommate, however the colleges take extra care to pair you with somebody who you are likely to get on with.
"My roommate and I from first year are still close. It can be hard living with somebody, but at the end of the day, it's nice to have some support when going for college meals and when getting ready for a night out."
Durham city is an amazing place to explore. The dramatic city skyline is one of the most stunning panoramas in Europe. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, prepare to be wowed by the beautiful and historic Cathedral which dates back to 1093 and the Castle which dates back to 1076. Both the Cathedral and Castle are conveniently placed right by the cobbled City Centre which provides a variety of shopping experiences from boutique shops to cosy cafes.
"I think we take for granted how lucky we are to study in such a beautiful place. Every time I walk past the Cathedral I think to myself that I should aim to go in and have a wander a little bit more often" Emma from St Cuthbert's
Durham Castle is actually where some of the students at Durham University can live if they belong to Castle College and the sixteen different colleges that make up Durham University provide a unique way to explore the city and meet new people.
Away from the city are the Botanical Gardens which are a popular way to escape from busy student life and during the Summer you can sit by the side of the River Wear and enjoy the stunning views the historical city.
HC's Complete College Guide: Durham University
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