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.
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 college-managed accommodation, should they choose to live in (as the great majority do). About one third of postgraduate students also live in college-managed accommodation. 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.
Your accommodation costs for the academic year include either Induction or Congregation week.
View our rooms and catering options. All family accommodation and some couples accommodation is based at Dryburn Court, part of Ustinov College.
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.
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.
Each college has dedicated staff to support and enable your personal development and wellbeing.
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.
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).
I have very fond memories of living in college with the friends I made during Freshers’ week. In 1st year, we would always go down to the Hall for meals together. We’d walk down the corridor knocking on every door before dinner to make sure nobody would be left behind. In my final year 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.
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.
We enable you to become the best version of yourself academically and socially. Supporting our Student Pledge encourages good citizenship.
Our colleges are spread across Durham; take a look at our interactive map for details.
The table below shows you at a glance some of the factual differences between the colleges.
No. of full time student members
No. of (UG&PG) students living in College
No. of 1st year UG rooms
No. of en-suite 1st year UG rooms
No. of shared 1st year UG rooms
No. of rooms for new PG students
No. of en-suite rooms for new PG students
C = Catered S = Self Catered UG
C = Catered S = Self Catered PG
Gowned formal dinners ****
Chapel/ Multi-faith room
John Snow College
Josephine Butler College
St Aidan's College
St Chad's College
St Cuthbert's Society
C / S
College of St Hild & St Bede
St John's College
St Mary's College
University College (Castle)
Van Mildert College
Ustinov College (PG only)
Student figures and room numbers provided are for the 2020/21 academic year and are subject to change.
* Figure includes shared ensuite and standard rooms.
** Figure includes single and twin ensuite rooms.
*** South College opened in 2020 with a reduced number of students with the intention of growing by 2022 to 1200 students.
Find out more about our colleges by following the links below.