Welcome from the Principal, Professor Wendy Powers
I’m thrilled to welcome you to this remarkable living learning community and hope you’ll quickly feel a sense of belonging in your new home. Whether you live in our postgraduate accommodation at New Kepier Court or you live elsewhere, you’re now a valued member of University College lovingly known as Castle. We can’t wait for your arrival and imagine you’re excited about spending your first few weeks at DU getting familiar with the spaces, people and happenings that make this such a unique community.
As you know from your undergraduate experience, Uni is a time to explore who you are, what you believe, and where you are going in a supportive and encouraging environment. It is also a time, perhaps the single most intense time for learning about human difference. Your postgrad peers hail from around the word, practice a wide array of faith traditions or none at all, attended all sorts of secondary schools, and embrace gender and/or sexual orientation identities you may be less familiar with. Castle students engage a wide array of physical and intellectual abilities, hold varying political and social values, and embody racial or ethnic identities different from your own. These and so many other ways our students differ from one another is part of the beauty you’ll experience at Durham University. Of course, you’re also aware that being part of a community isn’t always easy and sometimes involves difficult conversations in which we feel a bit vulnerable; however, with civility, respect and appreciation of difference as core values, we teach and learn together.
As you know all too well by now, we enjoy the privilege of living and learning in a castle on a world heritage site. This requires tremendous regard for our physical surroundings and is a shared responsibility. We are each trusted as caretakers of history while we prepare for and advance the future. As postgrad students you’ll be invited to join our Middle Common Room, which has a designated meeting/social/study space in the Castle. The MCR student leaders (executive officers or ‘exec’) work diligently to create engaging and thought provoking opportunities for connecting with and learning from peers across the Castle community. You’ll shortly hear from the MCR about how to become a member, and we hope you’ll consider joining this common room.
In closing, please keep in mind these keys to your success as a new postgraduate student (also known as a fresher) in University College – those who open their hearts and minds to others, those who practice civility and respect, those who ask for assistance, and those who show up and get involved – these are the students most likely to flourish in this renowned learning community. On behalf of the entire Castle staff, we are delighted you’ve joined us! This community is better because you are here. Let us know if you have questions or need any support.
Checklist: things you need to do before you arrive
Before you become a member of Castle, make sure you read through the documents below and complete the relevant forms. We will also email you with information in due course about our Freshers’ week programme and arrangements for arriving in Durham, so watch this space!
As a member of the MCR, you can look forward to a full programme of events and activities run throughout the year. whether it’s our socials and balls, our frequent welfare and mentoring events, or our seminar series and Academic Conference. Castle itself also offers a wide range of facilities; you might work or socialise in the gorgeous Maurice Tucker Room (the home of the MCR), study in our Lowe Library (with great views of the Courtyard) or dine in the stunning Great Hall.
However, it is the community, as well as the facilities, which make Castle what it is - and as such, as an MCR member you may join an enormous range of Castle societies. You might join one of our sports teams, take a shine to Castle music, or help our outreach and charity work through CCA (Castle Community Action). I am always happy to hear suggestions on how we might improve the postgraduate experience at Castle, and you might do so yourself by joining one of our committees or even running for a position within the MCR!
If you have any questions about the MCR, Castle or postgraduate life, or would simply fancy a Zoom chat about any of these things before your arrival in Durham, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your first week in Durham – University Induction Week Events Timetable
The Timetable has been designed so College events don’t clash with any of your academic departmental events, but offer you lots of opportunities to meet your fellow Freshers, find your way around and settle into student life.
To help you keep track of where you need to be, and what you need to do during your first busy days at university, in your College and your Department, we have created a day-by-day University Induction Planner. This should help you to plan your schedule, so you don't miss anything - from being issued with your Campus Card or meeting the staff in your Department, to trying out for a sports team or joining a student society.