We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

University College

University College Virtual Visit

Welcome to your virtual visit to University College Durham, where you can experience what we offer.

We would have loved to welcome you to our Visit Days in Spring/Summer 2020. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 we cannot welcome visitors. Instead, we have produced this site to offer you a virtual visit. We hope you enjoy finding out about life here at University College, known in Durham as ‘Castle’.

There's lots of content here, put together by both staff and students to give you a flavour of what University College is really like.

We are a Castle without borders – we hope you will join us and be part of our vibrant community.

Our Principal, Professor Wendy Powers

Welcome from College Staff

Professor Wendy Powers, Principal of University College

Summertime greetings to all – near and far!

We are delighted to introduce you to University College Durham, known lovingly as “Castle.” Whether you are the first in your family to attend college or the next in a family legacy, we are honored you’re considering this esteemed living learning community. Whether you are from the UK or you hail from abroad like myself, we are pleased to share some of our collegiate culture with you. Whether you identify as a member of a minority community or you are among the enlightened majority, we are excited to help you explore Castle as part of your university discernment process. Whoever you are, whatever you hope to study – all are welcome here!

Castle is a diverse and robust living learning community designed to enhance your university experience and impact your personal, academic and career development. We provide social activities, academic engagement, peer and staff mentoring, athletic and fine arts opportunities and wellbeing support in an enriching community environment. Our community is comprised of undergraduate, postgraduate and faculty/staff Common Rooms. These smaller communities – the JCR (junior common room), MCR (middle common room) and SCR (senior common room) respectively – host elected leaders who dedicate time and talent to ensuring the strongest possible involvement opportunities and community development. The College Office Staff support these leaders and all members of Castle by providing student support, leadership training, accountability to the University Code of Conduct, emergency response and more. Finally, our dedicated Operations and Catering staffs provide the facilities, accommodations, security and dining resources that allow for the community to flourish. In other words, students and staff work collaboratively to ensure a stellar collegiate environment in which everyone can learn, grow and thrive.

The following narrative, testimonials and visit are designed to share even more about Castle, and we hope you’ll ask questions during the presentation. Our goal is to make sure you’ve learned everything possible to help you discern the collegiate community that feels best for you. I would encourage you to seek a place in which you not only feel comfortable, but in which you will also be challenged, stretched and supported. We believe University College Durham is just such a community, and we wish you all the best as you explore the possibilities.

Take good care,


Professor Wendy Powers, PhD
Principal & Associate Vice Provost
University College | Durham University

Dr Ellen Crabtree & Dr David Lowther

Here to support your studies and enrich your student experience

We are here to support all our students, from the moment you arrive as a fresher through to your graduation. We lead our Student Support team, a small group of dedicated staff here to support and listen throughout your time as a Castle student. We can signpost you to help if and when you need it.

We also work to support all the amazing things that happen as part of college life: we work closely with student common rooms, lead on putting on challenging and exciting programme of events and activities to help you think outside of your degree studies, and have fun, too.

If you're interested in hearing more, please have a read of a summary of the presentation that we would usually give at open days.

We have also compiled a useful list of FAQs about our accommodation, catering, arrival and other often-asked questions, which will be particularly helpful for 2020 offer holders. Information about accommodation and allocations can be found here.

Dr Ellen Crabtree, Vice-Principal
Dr David Lowther, Assistant Principal

Welcome from our student leaders

University College

Durham Student Experience Podcast - Sunita

Views: 75

University College - Unions and Societies Officer

Views: 47

University College - Social Chair

Views: 37

University College - Welfare Officer

Views: 37

University College - Services Manager

Views: 34

University College - Vice Senior Student

Views: 34

University College - Senior Student

Views: 65

University College - Development Officer

Views: 50

University College - Outreach Officer

Views: 35

Our Curator, Gemma Lewis

Living in a Castle

Welcome from Gemma Lewis, Curator of Durham Castle and Museum of Archaeology

Everyone wants to come to Castle, whether student, staff, schoolchildren or members of the public. It is a building with nearly 1000 years of history. Its history as a college is relatively recent and the proceeding 800 years saw Durham Castle’s story entwined with that of the Prince-Bishops of Durham, whose semi-regal status made them some of the most powerful and wealthy men in the country. Durham Castle was their seat of power and Palace Green the centre of their administration.

Today Durham Castle is a Grade I Listed Building, an Accredited Museum and part of the Durham World Heritage Site. These are not just titles for Durham Castle, these are responsibilities, some of which have statutory regulations and it’s why University College is the only college with a curator. As the curator of Durham Castle it is my role to be aware of the regulations and to protect, curate and interpret and make accessible the interior and exterior historic fabric.

This comes in many different strands. I am involved with much of the public-facing side of Durham Castle, such as the running of Castle Tours and the training of Tour Guides and volunteers who help the 30,000 yearly visitors enjoy their visit to Durham Castle. I also help the student and college community engage with the public, for example through talks and by helping Castle Community Action with large-scale family events.

One of my main responsibilities is to care for the museum collection and advise on the historic fabric. Whether this is displaying the museum collection, monitoring the environment or being involved with large-scale projects to protect the fabric of the castle for future generations. You will probably find me at quite a few meetings for the large student events such as June Ball and certain college projects. I am also involved with direct teaching in several modules for both Durham University and other HE institutions, and indirect support using collections and historic fabric.

Find out more

We will also be holding some online question and answer sessions for offer holders with College staff and student leaders using Microsoft Teams. We hope that these will provide a useful space for you to find out more about life at University College and ask any specific questions that you may have. The dates and times for these are available here.

In addition, the Student Support Team remains available for enquiries from prospective students. If you have any specific queries please contact us via

Any questions?

If you have any queries about joining University College please email us via

If you have any questions about the admissions process, you will receive an answer quickest if you head to

A note for Parents and Guardians: we are unable to discuss applicant offers with a third party.