On a brisk day in February 2023 I took a trip down memory lane to visit the cathedral city of Durham and its ancient university. We have deep rooted family ties to the university and my parents actually got married here so it was interesting to see how much had changed since my last visit – and how much had stayed the same.

Durham is a stunning town and very compact so getting around on foot or bike is easy. Some students can even live in the castle! After touring the town and university buildings, I enjoyed a peaceful walk along the banks of the River Wear to watch the rowing teams train.

  • Collegiate public research university
  • A member of the Russell Group – an association of research-intensive UK universities
  • Founded in 1832 – 3rd oldest in England after Oxford and Cambridge
  • The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2023
  • Around 15,000 undergraduates
  • Students come from 130+ countries


  • Durham is located in the north-east of England – a beautiful small historic city and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The academic buildings and colleges are spread throughout the city
  • Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees 30 miles from Durham City is home to the International Study Centre – preparing non-EU foreign students to enter degree programmes
  • The River Wear snakes through the city and is lined with public footpaths for walking or running – student rowers use the river for training
  • Worth visiting are the stunning Durham Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens and the Oriental Museum.
  • The nearest airport is Newcastle which has flights around the Uk and also direct to a number of European cities – around a 30 minute drive or train links via Newcastle city centre.


  • Over 200 undergraduate programmes – one of the broadest range of courses in the UK
  • Teaching departments are divided into 4 faculties: Arts and Humanities, Science, Social Sciences and Health, and the Business School.
  • Popular degree programmes include: Business, Accounting and Finance, Natural Sciences, Geography, and Modern Languages and Culture.
  • 3 Combined honours degrees are offered allowing students more flexibility in course choice: Liberal Arts (BA), Natural Sciences (BSc and MSci), and Combined Honours in Social Sciences (BA).
  • Three 9/10 week terms: Michaelmas Term, Epiphany Term and Easter Term. The whole academic year runs from October to June


  • Apply via UCAS
  • A wide range of UK and international qualifications are considered – check on individual course pages
  • A level offers range from A*A*A* to BBB – General Studies is not accepted.
  • The EPQ is valued but not considered as part of any offers made.
  • Primary Education and Foundation programmes include an interview
  • For most undergraduate courses additional tests are not required. However, candidates for Mathematics and Law are strongly encouraged to sit the subject specific tests.


  • All first year students are guaranteed an offer of accommodation
  • 17 colleges responsible for living arrangements and welfare
  • Students belong to a college for the full duration of their time at university – most live in the first year and then move out in the second year. In the third and final year they usually have the option of returning (often decided via a ballot system)
  • Each college has a range of facilities – computing rooms, libraries, tennis courts, gyms,
  • Formal dinners are held regularly in many colleges when students are sometimes expected to wear their gowns
  • Some colleges are catered, others require students to cook for themselves
  • Each college is located within walking distance of the city centre, academic departments and University facilities
  • Once students have received an academic offer from Durham they will get an invitation to rank their college preferences – this is considered as part of the allocation process.
  • You can read more about each of the colleges in the Undergraduate Colleges Guide


  • 1000+ student-led clubs and societies
  • Student enrichment activities are split into 7 themes: arts and culture, enterprise and employment, intellectual enquiry, building communities, sports and wellbeing, wider community engagement, and active citizenship.
  • 80+ student-led music societies – opportunities for masterclasses with professional musicians and the use of venues such as the Gala Theatre and Durham Cathedral.
  • 27 theatre companies across the university
  • 54 sports to participate in
  • The Maiden Castle Sports and Wellbeing Park offers state-of-the-art equipment and includes a purpose-built martial arts studio, 5 line cricket hall and a 90 station fitness suite.
  • 50+ annual community, educational and recreational projects for student volunteering
  • Multi award winning radio station: Purple Radio


  • Durham offers International Foundation Year programmes for international students who do not meet the requirements for direct entry – January and September intakes.
  • Undergraduate Open Days are held on campus in June. Virtual tours are also available on the website.

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