Our colleges are at the heart of life at Durham. From day-to-day activities to special events, there are so many ways to make friends and have fun, while increasing your skills and experience.
Colleges are mixed communities of staff and students from all our subject areas. Each college has dedicated student support staff and student welfare volunteers, so there is help available if you have a problem or need advice. Our colleges all have a huge range of student-led activities - so whether you're interested in sports, theatre or music, want to do some volunteering or organise events, college gives you the opportunity to discover new interests and gain skills for life!
A college community is not just the 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 (as the great majority do). About one third of postgraduate students also live in college. Second and third year undergraduates often live out but are still fully involved in college life; they participate in societies, use the library and sports facilities, consult college staff for guidance and support, and enjoy formals and events. Even after graduation you remain part of your college community: many of our alumni return to share their skills and experience years after they have left.
Your college furthermore provides an informal setting to continue learning outside of your academic course, for the whole time you are studying at Durham.
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.
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 support from staff and fellow students.
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.
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).
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!).