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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 March and June. 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 Acting Principal, Professor Graham Towl

Welcome from College Staff

Professor Graham Towl, Acting Principal of University College

Thank you for participating in our first virtual open day at University College. We want to make sure that you are able to ask any questions that you may have about college life. Also we want to offer you the opportunity to learn more about what we have to offer at the Castle to inform your choices.

We are fundamentally a scholarly community, and we do our best to attract the very brightest students with, first and foremost, a commitment to academic studies and particularly to working hard throughout your time with us. Nearly half of the student body at the Castle are postgraduates. The study habits that you further develop whilst at University College will hold you in good stead for your future careers and life.

A university education is about more than academic studies, fundamentally important though they are. At the Castle you will have the opportunity to get involved in a range of activities. Our college motto reminds us of our privilege, and we are keen to work with others less socially advantaged than ourselves. We pride ourselves in our community work and strongly encourage our students to get more involved with such outward facing activities. We have a strong focus on the mental health and well being of our college community and we strive to ensure that this is reflected in all that we do.

Welcome to our virtual open day, enjoy.

Professor Graham Towl
(Acting) Principal, University College
Professor of Forensic Psychology, 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.

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


Welcome from our student leaders

University College

University College - Senior Student

Views: 8

University College - Outreach Officer

Views: 8

University College - Services Manager

Views: 3

University College - Unions and Societies Officer

Views: 9

University College - Social Chair

Views: 4

University College - Development Officer

Views: 14

University College - Welfare Officer

Views: 4

University College - Vice Senior Student

Views: 9

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. We have set up a session for applicants only and one at which you are welcome to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The dates and times of these sessions are below. The links to join are available in the invitation email which went out to all offer-holders on 4 June 2020.

  • Monday 8 June, 16:00-17:00 GMT+1: offer-holders only
  • Thursday 11 June, 16:00-17:00 GMT+1: offer-holders and parents/guardians

We'll be using MS Teams to run our events, so if you don't already have it you can download it now.

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

Any questions?

If you have any queries about joining University College please email us via univcoll.admissions@durham.ac.uk.

If you have any questions about the admissions process, you will receive an answer quickest if you head to www.durham.ac.uk/study/askus.

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