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A student in Cousins Library

With just days to go until we find out whether Durham will be crowned UK City of Culture 2025, we’re shining a light on the many ways our University celebrates, embraces and contributes to creativity, culture and heritage.

Culture at the heart of education

We think creativity, culture and heritage is at the heart of a well-rounded education.

In 2017 Durham University joined forces with Arts Council England to launch the Durham Commission. This research collaboration looked at the role creativity and creative thinking should play in the education of young people.

The Commission’s vision focused on promoting teaching for creativity in education for all young people, whatever their background. Its first report was published in October 2019.

Our extensive libraries and special collections are a treasure-trove of over 70,000 books published before 1850, manuscripts, maps and photographs. Meanwhile our museums, galleries and exhibitions include more than 100,000 objects – and growing!

We welcome visitors across the year, both to our public exhibitions, through our regular engagement with schools and from scholars and members of the public with a keen interest in our collections.

We are also committed to sharing our research expertise through the creative arts. Our Institute for Computational Cosmology has inspired a number of installations at the renowned biennial light festival Lumiere, using the arts to showcase science in new ways.

Nurturing the creative minds of the future

Durham is home to a wealth of courses, at all levels, that nurture and develop the creative mind.

Our School of Modern Languages and Cultures offers a wealth of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including an undergraduate degree in Visual Arts and Film and a post-graduate Masters in Visual Culture. These courses offer cross-border study of the visual arts and our students also benefit from our partnership with the British Film Institute.

Our English Studies and Music departments are both ranked in the top 5 within the UK. They offer a wealth of courses to inspire and explore creative expression, including Creative Writing, Composition and Ethnomusicology.

Heritage is a central part of the teaching within our world-leading Archaeology department which offers courses to equip the next generation of conservators and heritage experts. These include Museum and Artefact Studies, International Cultural Heritage Management and Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects.

Vibrant interdisciplinary research

Our commitment to cultural and creative excellence is also expressed through the range of exciting research collaborations and partnerships fostered within our research centres.


The Centre for Visual Arts and Culture is a global community of experts on visual culture and fosters cutting-edge research training for a new generation of professionals.

From its home within the beautiful Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site our Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies is a catalyst and coordinator for research, and expert networks.

The Institute for Medical Humanities furthers research to understand the lives experience of health and illness, working with colleagues across all University faculties to expand understanding of everything from trauma and addition to dreams, memory and anxiety.

Celebrating its fifth birthday in 2022, our Zurbaran Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art brings together the University’s exceptional strengths in Spanish and Latin American studies and County Durham's remarkable collections in Spanish art dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.

And our Archaeology department is also home to the Centre for Cultural Heritage Protection and the Heritage Partnerships group, both of which utilise our internationally-recognised expertise to help further global heritage protection.

Find out more