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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Our colleges

Every college provides a sense of community and belonging, which stays with you all the time you are a student here and long after you leave!

Personal effectiveness

College communities let you develop your self-awareness, leadership and problem-solving skills through participation in societies, teams and representative groups. You will have many opportunities to challenge yourself with the support from staff and fellow students.

Intellectual curiosity

Our colleges inspire you to explore your intellectual curiosity by bringing together students from all subjects. You will connect with students from all areas and levels of study to explore and analyse different ideas through guest lectures, talks and exhibitions to expand your learning.
Find out more about extracurricular events here.

Belonging and responsibility

Colleges are safe spaces to try new things, to challenge yourself and to transform. They are the places where lifelong friendships begin and new passions are found. Your College community will shape your university experience and stay with you for life.

Student support and wellbeing

Each college has dedicated staff to support and enable your personal development and wellbeing. Read more about the University support services here.

Unique colleges

Degrees are not taught in college. All teaching is done in academic departments. College provides an informal setting to continue learning outside of your academic course for the whole time you are studying at Durham.

This year, Durham expands from 16 to 17 colleges. Our brand new South College opens to students in September. Colleges are safe environments to help you settle into student life, make friends and take advantage of all the opportunities on offer.

College communities

A college community is not just made up of a fantastic mix of people who live in the college, it also includes undergraduates and postgraduates who choose to live out in the community, members of staff and alumni.

All first year undergraduates are guaranteed accommodation in college, should they choose to live in. About one third of postgraduate students also live in college. Second and third year undergraduates usually live out but are still fully involved in college life, returning to participate in societies, use the library and sports facilities, and to enjoy formals and events. Even after graduation you remain part of your college community, many of our alumni return to share their skills and experiences years after they have left.

Opportunities to get involved

College life gives you the chance to create and deliver a variety of activities and events. 17 colleges, means 17 times the opportunities to get involved in student-led and student-run activities. From managing sports teams and organising lectures, to planning social events to music-making and arts groups, there’s something for everyone.

What is a Common Room?

Student life at Durham is shaped by our students, with every college having representative bodies that are usually known as Common Rooms. Each is made up of elected voluntary student officers, including an Executive Committee. They represent the students from their college and organise many of the events and activities.

As an undergraduate you can become a member of the Junior Common Room (JCR) or a Student Representative Council (SRC). Postgraduates may become a member of a Middle Common Room (MCR), Student Representative Council (SRC), Graduate Common Room (GCR) or a Senior Common Room (SCR).

College Formals

All colleges hold 'Formals', an opportunity for staff and students from the college to enjoy dinner together. Formals often have a theme such as Burn's Night, Valentine's Day, or Harry Potter. In some of our college's students wear gowns to Formals and in others wearing black tie or smart evening wear is part of the occasion. As well as Formals, colleges hold other fun events throughout the year such as College Balls and annual College Days held at the end of the academic year (like mini-festivals!). Read more about these events in our student blog.

Undergraduate Colleges Guide

Find out more about our collegiate system and what it offers you as a Durham student.

Learn more about each of our distinct colleges spread across the city, and how they enable you to create your own Durham student experience

Download a copy of the 2021 Colleges Guide.

“For me, the colleges attracted me to Durham. I saw the collegiate system as one that would promote and champion diversity as well as provide opportunities to try new things such as sports. I was able to take part in college rowing, basketball and football which are sports I had never really played before.”

Seun Onalaja, BA Accounting and Finance, Stephenson College.

“The collegiate structure is a defining characteristic of Durham University. It’s extremely reassuring to be part of an active, close-knit community with a vested interest in your welfare and development, both in your career and personal life.”

Jack Panter, Physics PhD, Grey College.

"I have very fond memories of living in college with the friends I made during Freshers’ week. In first year, we would always go down to the Hall for meals together. We’d walk down the college corridor knocking on every door before dinner, to make sure nobody would be left behind. In my final year, I returned to college with three close friends. We spent most of our evenings in the library preparing for our finals, but we would always schedule study breaks for tea and biscuits in the pantry, and we slipped letters of encouragement under each other’s doors."

Bruno Martin, Biological Sciences graduate, St Mary's College

Student Pledge

We enable you to become the best version of yourself academically and socially. Supporting our Student Pledge encourages good citizenship.

"Colleges encourage new experiences and new understandings: they are places to discover new interests, to live adventurously and, indeed, to dream."

- HM Evans & TP Burt The Collegiate Way