About St John's College
Admissions and open days
Accommodation and facilities
Transitioning to higher education support and information
Transitioning to higher education - Frequently asked questions
We are one of the smallest of the Durham colleges, with around 550 undergraduates and just under 300 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 one third of our undergraduates are international students, around half are postgraduates and we have students from across 45 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 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!
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!
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!
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).
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
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 provisional 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.
There is a chance that it might change. Your college allocation remains provisional and will be confirmed in the year that you begin your studies.
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 2023-24 is £9156 for a 39 week contract – of this, £2760 is the catering charge. We have 30 shared rooms which are a bit cheaper and 42 ensuite rooms which are bit more expensive. You can see all charges here: Residence Charges.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are a number of things that you need to or may wish to bring:
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.
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.
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!