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About St John's College

How big is St John's?

We are one of the smallest of the Durham colleges, with around 580 undergraduates and just under 250 postgraduates. In addition, there are 60 students who are part of Cranmer Hall,  a theological College within St John's. About 270 St John's students live in the College on the Bailey. 

Around a quarter our undergraduates are international students, around half are postgraduates and we have students from across 50 nationalities. Whether you live in College or out, we invite you to see College as your home during your studies and to make use of the support and facilities available. 


Students eating, view from outside


What’s the best thing about St John’s?

Students have a range of different answers to this question! Some think it’s our great location on the Bailey, some love the winding, mysterious corridors with the staircase that leads to nowhere and others comment on the many different things to get involved in. The addition of our own state-of-the art Learning Resource Centre and library has really enhanced the St John’s student experience and one in three students say that it’s one of the reasons they chose St John’s. The fact that we have free formal dinners, free coffee and free laundry for residents is also very popular. One thing that all of our students seem to agree on is how wonderfully friendly the community of St John's is!


What are sports and societies like at St John’s?

St John’s has a flourishing performing arts scene, with John’s Music Society (one of the largest music societies in Durham) and the Bailey Theatre Company putting on a plethora of concerts and plays throughout the year.

While we are the second smallest college in Durham, we really punch above our weight when it comes to sports – from multiple football teams to badminton, lacrosse and cheerleading, as well a joint St John’s and St Chad’s rugby club – check out the full list here: St John's SJCR.

There are lots of other societies, from the Eco Committee, which organises the annual Eco-Fest, to the Wine & Cheese Society and volunteering group. Sports and societies at St John’s are friendly and welcoming to everyone, regardless of their experience or ability. 

St John’s College Boat Club, founded in 1910, is one of the largest clubs at St John’s with around 80 members from all common rooms and a boathouse by the river. The crews practise at least twice a week on the River Wear, in addition to land training using the college gym rowing machines and whole-club circuit sessions. The club has a friendly environment with regular social events where everyone is welcome! 


College life


What is a 'Formal'?

Unlike most other colleges, St John's College is proud to offer free weekly formals for our students during term-time. All you need to bring along is wine or soft drinks bought from our underground wine cellar. Formal dinners, or ‘formals’, are a special feature of college life and offer a great opportunity to dress up, put on your academic gown and socialise with students, staff and guests from college and beyond over great food. Students normally sit on long tables and there is a ‘High Table’ for College staff, invited guests, academics and Senior Common Room members. At the end of the meal, or over dessert, the Principal or other College Officer gives a speech, and afterwards students and high table guests mingle together over coffee and mints. 


Sometimes formals are themed and feature a guest speaker and linked with the theme. Our new 'Once a Johnian' formals bring together alumni, students, guests and staff across the University to network and share experiences on a particular industry or careers sector. Once or twice every term, we have a special, black-tie 'mega-formal' – tickets are normally five pounds and include a sparkling drinks reception!




How will I travel to and from College? 

St John’s College is located on the Bailey, near the Cathedral, and most departments and lecture halls are within a 15 minute walk from College. Most students walk or cycle to and from lectures. 

Check out the map with all University building and pedestrian routes here: Durham University map and routes.

There is also Interactive Map of Durham Colleges that will give you more information bout possible routes and times.

The University also currently has an arrangement with Arriva, offering discounted bus travel in Durham District Zone (unlimited travel for £1 per day or £5 per week). 


Admissions and open days

Open Days

Pre-Application Open Days are usually held in June. Prospective students are welcome to visit St John's College, where our student ambassadors can chat with you about college life and show you around.

You can book your place on the Open Days here: Pre-Application Open days booking page


Room and Study 

How are students allocated to a College? 

When you receive an offer of undergraduate study at Durham University, you will be invited to rank colleges according to your preference. You can change your preferences and fill the form as many times as you want, up until the college membership allocation starts. This will be a preliminary allocation in the first instance. If you are successful and your place at Durham is confirmed, Durham University will try to ensure that your confirmed college remains the same as previously allocated but this is not guaranteed. 


I was allocated to another college but I’d like to transfer to St John’s, can I do that? 

Durham University has a policy that once a college allocation is made then it is part of its broader offer and not something that will be changed at an applicant’s request. The only exceptions to this policy are on evidenced, exceptional medical/disability grounds, where an applicant’s needs cannot be met at their allocated college. 
For more information, check the UG Allocation Process
Student life at Durham University is inter-collegiate in nature, however, and even though you may be a member of a different college, you will be welcome to engage in various aspects of college life and events in St John’s and other colleges. For example, our Chapel Choir scholarships are open to all Durham University students and many of our seminars, worship services and events are open to the wider University community.


I am a deferring student and last year I was allocated to St John’s. Will this change when I arrive next year? 

There is a chance that it might change. If you do not specify you would like college accommodation on the Undergraduate College Accommodation application form and then change your decision later, you may transferred to another college.  

Accommodation - 2 pics


Accommodation and facilities

How much does accommodation at St John’s cost?

Our residence charges are the same as the other Colleges, with the exception that we do not offer a discount for rooms with no sink, and we do not charge extra for rooms with double beds.

The cost for a single, standard room with shared bathroom in 2024-25 for an undergraduate on a 39 week contract is £9745.50 – of this, £2940 is the catering charge. We have 30 shared rooms which are a bit cheaper and 42 ensuite rooms which are bit more expensive. 

Postgraduate contracts are usually for 50 weeks. You can see all charges (undergraduate and postgraduate) here: Residence Charges 


Can I be self-catered at St John’s?

We are fully catered during term-time and do not offer self-catered packages. Each accommodation area has access to a small kitchenette with a fridge and we have a few kitchens across the College for meal preparations out of term-time. If you have particular dietary needs, our Catering Team will be happy to talk through how they can support you; email them on


How are rooms allocated?

If you successfully gain a place at Durham University and are allocated to St John's College, we will contact you in August and invite you to complete a Welcome Questionnaire. Here you can submit your room preferences and tell us more about yourself, for example, if you like to sleep early or late, prefer a more quiet or sociable area, or have an evidenced medical need for a particular room type. The information you provide will inform room allocation.

We will be in touch at least two weeks before the start of term to let you know whether your room is single or shared, standard or ensuite and whether you will need single or double bedding.


How likely am I to be allocated a shared room?

We currently have 30 shared rooms (60 bed spaces) and around 1 in 3 first year undergraduates will be allocated a shared room. Sharing a room can be a great way to start your time at university and you may even form a friendship for life - read about Sarah’s experience of sharing a room here: Sharing a Room. The information you provide in the Welcome Questionnaire (see above) will inform room allocation and we pair students in accordance with their interests and lifestyle wherever possible.


Is accessible accommodation available?

Most of our College buildings are 18th Century Georgian town houses and not accessible for wheelchair users. We have some disabled access bedrooms and are working on improving accessibility to our communal areas as part of our estates strategy, but currently we are not able to provide College accommodation for current students with significant access needs.


Do I have to move out of my room during the Christmas and Easter vacation?

If you live in College you have full use of your room for the whole contract period (39 weeks for first year undergraduates and 50 weeks for postgraduate students), and this includes the vacations. Please note that College catering is available term-time only.

Will I be able to live in College in my second year?

Most students choose to live in private accommodation in their second year of study. Our accommodation is offered on an annual basis and all students are welcome to apply for 'returner' accommodation, but the allocation process gives preference to final year students and students with an evidenced medical need for College accommodation. 

What furniture will there be in my room? 

Your room will contain a bed (single, 3/4 or double, many with under-bed storage) and most will contain a bedside table/drawers, chest of drawers, wardrobe, shelf, notice board, study desk, chair, lamp, a sink and a mirror. You are welcome to bring other furniture but usually we recommend that students wait until they have arrived and see the layout of their room before doing so. Wi-Fi connection to the University network is available in all rooms.  




What electrical items can I have in my room?  

Personal items such as hairdryers and straighteners are fine to have and use in your room. No cooking equipment is allowed in your room (e.g. hot plates, toasters, rice cookers, etc.) and heaters and electric blankets are also not allowed. All student rooms are fairly close to a kitchenette with toaster, microwave, kettle and fridge. Students with an evidenced medical need to have a fridge in their room may do so and College staff will need to PAT test it before use. A full list of prohibited electrical items is available here: College Prohibited Items 2023/24

What do I need to bring with me?   

There are a number of things that you need to or may wish to bring:

  • Clothes – bring clothes to cater for every eventuality including warm clothes and waterproofs! You may also need formal wear (such as suits, dresses or smart clothing) for various events including Formals.
  • Bed sheets – beds in College come with duvets and pillows, but you need to provide bed sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases. Don’t buy any bedding until your bed size is confirmed – we have a mixture of single, ¾ and double beds. You should also bring your own towels. There is a ‘Linen pack’ available to purchase from College (email – this provides all necessary bed sheets and towels. You are responsible for washing your own sheets and towels. 
  • Laundry – laundry facilities (washing machines, tumble driers, irons and ironing boards) are available in various areas of College. You need to use your own laundry detergent and fabric softener, so remember to bring or buy some.
  • Toiletries – you need to provide your own toiletries such as toilet paper, shampoo, soap etc.
  • Crockery – generally, there is little need for cooking utensils etc. as St John’s is fully catered. You will need to bring your own cutlery, mugs and any other crockery you wish to use in your bedroom or kitchenette.
  • Food – You may wish to stock up on tea bags, coffee and small snacks – an invitation for coffee and biscuits is always a good way to make friends with your neighbours! However, College is fully catered so there is no need to bring lots of food. 
  • You may wish to bring some personal items such as photos to personalise your room.


What’s the internet like?   

A Wi-Fi connection to the University network is available in all rooms and communal areas in College. Students are advised to have anti-virus software on their laptop. Students can also connect their other devices, such as phones/tablets, to University Wi-Fi. Please find more information on the CIS webpages  


Do I need a TV Licence? 

You will need a TV Licence if you bring your own TV and watch or record any live TV programmes on any channel, or watch anything on BBC iPlayer. It is important to inform the TV Licensing company either way, whether you require a license or not. They consider each individual bedroom in College to be ‘one house’. More information is available on the TV Licensing website.  



We have a bike storage for students who wish to bring their bikes to College, located behind Garth building. All bikes have to be kept there and under no circumstances students can keep their bikes in their rooms.

Bikes left at the bike shed are left at own risk and it is recommended that students purchase a D-lock style bike lock or a similar specification. Students are strongly advised to check when setting up their contents insurance policy that it includes added cover for bicycles as this is not usually provided as standard.



A certification that St John's College is signed up to the Student Accommodation Code.



What’s the earliest I can arrive to College?

Welcome & Orientation Week for the new academic year starts on Monday 25 September 2023. Arrival times for Home students living in College accommodation are Saturday and Sunday (23 and 24 September 2023), while international students may arrive from Wednesday 20 September. If you need to arrive prior to these dates due to exceptional circumstances, please email
Arrival times need to be booked in advance if arriving on Saturday and Sunday by car. This will all be pre-arranged and College will be in touch with details on how to book an arrival slot in mid-September. If arriving by other means of transport that same weekend, please keep our Reception team updated on

Can I send parcels or belongings to College before my arrival?  

We ask that you do not send any belongings or online purchases to College before you get here. This is because we do not have the storage capacity to keep all the boxes until you arrive. Once you are a resident in College, online purchases may be sent and you will be able to collect them from Reception/the Post Room.  

Can I bring a car to College?   

There are very limited car parking facilities in Durham City and you are strongly advised not to bring a vehicle with you.  College accommodation is within short walking distance to academic buildings and the City Centre. More information can also be found here: Car Parking for Students 

University parking permits are only approved for students under exceptional circumstances relating to their academic requirements (e.g. work placements).

Durham City Centre does not have any free parking but has a frequent bus service running throughout the City.  Discounted fares are available to student by showing their Student Campus Card - for only £1 per day or £5 per week!