Skip to main content

Student Enrichment and Personal Development

Change starts with us!

Our Stephenson Connections Programme offers a broad range of enrichment opportunities to students enabling them to explore new ideas, develop new skills and be career-ready. The activities offered  seek to enhance and develop a student's intellectual curiosity and personal effectiveness through the facilitation of student-led activities, the provision of a series of inspirational talks, seminars and debates, and skills-based activities such as networking sessions, employability initiatives and our work with the local community.  

Stephenson College provides Connections Grants of up to £250 to enable students to undertake aspirational activities that further their personal development beyond the requirements of their degree. You can apply as an individual or as a group. Applications open three times per year. 

Stephenson Ideas

Our flagship Stephenson Ideas talk series runs every Monday evening during term time and has featured an excellent range of speakers. Each talk aims to inspire, challenge and develop the intellectual curiosity of our students. The talk series features motivational and inspiring speakers with a story to tell, sometimes academic in nature, sometimes not, but always providing an opportunity to discuss innovative and engaging topics. The talks are accessible to all.  

Speakers have included Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the UK Environment Agency, Andrew Feinstein, global arms trade expert and former ANC MP in Mandela's government and Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. 

Community Connections Trips

Stephenson College launched the Community Connections programme in 2022, enabling Stephenson students to explore and connect with the local community around them. The North East of England is a place of big adventures, breath taking beauty and a strong cultural heritage and we want to ensure that all Stephenson College students have the chance to enjoy it. Students have enjoyed fully subsidised trips to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, The Auckland Project, Locomotion in Shildon and Beamish Museum.

Global Citizenship

We believe every student should have an international experience right here in Durham. Stephenson College provides a wide range of opportunities for students to explore global citizenship themes and issues through talks, cultural events and exchanges. For example, we provide opportunities for students to volunteer on the Mexico Online Research School in January each year, a three-week programme enabling Mexican students to prepare for study in the UK. Many current Stephenson students have been involved in delivering the fun and informative sessions, including the ever-popular Stephenson Pub Quiz!  

Stephenson College was proud to partner with DU Business School and Regional Maritime University - Ghana to deliver a British Council funded virtual masterclass series in 2021.  Over a hundred students from Stephenson, the wider DU community and RMU – Ghana participated in the masterclasses, exploring problems facing agri-business in Ghana from a logistics perspective and working on real life viable solutions, putting theory into practice.  

Volunteering and Outreach

Many Stephenson students volunteer with College outreach projects, making a positive impact in the local community throughout the year. Volunteering is a big part of the Durham student experience, with Durham students being awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2020. We work with local organisations to enable Stephenson students to connect with the wider Durham area, make new friends, develop new skills and be at the forefront of tackling social and environmental challenges. Our outreach projects include an intergenerational project with Sherburn House residential home, delivering an environmental badge for local Brownie and Cub groups and supporting PACT House, Stanley through our Christmas food bank drive and advent calendar collections. Students also run regular fundraising events such as Macmillan Coffee Mornings and a basketball fundraiser for men's health charity Oddballs.


Student leadership is a core part of College life and there are leadership roles at all levels available through College and JCR/MCR initiatives. We work closely with the DU Leadership Programme to deliver workshops and talks in College which are open to all students. Stephenson Ideas and The Durham Leaders Think Tank have collaborated on joint initiatives, such as a recent workshop focusing on ways to be a good leader and the value of unconventional leadership styles. The workshop was delivered by Mike Barton, the unconventional Chief Constable who turned Durham Constabulary into the best police force in the country. 


An internship is a great way of developing key employability skills. As well as working with alumni to develop external internship opportunities, Stephenson recruits for internal internship opportunities, such as paid marketing and communications internships.