Durham student wearing Durham t-shirt outside campus


A guide to Durham colleges

Durham University is one of the traditional collegiate universities in the UK. 

Colleges are a place to live, to socialise and to study. When you progress to your degree at the University, you will join one of Durham’s 17 colleges. Being part of this historic collegiate system creates a strong sense of belonging and is one of the best aspects of student life

What is a university college?

University colleges offer comfortable accommodation and a range of on-site facilities. They also have their own sports teams, student-led activities and traditions.

Most students live in college accommodation during the first year of their undergraduate degree. There is a supportive, family-style atmosphere at every college that will make you feel at home.

Postgraduate students often choose to live outside of their college. If you choose to arrange your own private accommodation, you will still have access to all social activities and facilities at your college. 

Resources and facilities

Each college has a distinct character, but the facilities and societies are similar. You will find a range of facilities for studying, relaxing, socialising, sports, music and events. Facilities may include:

  • Study areas
  • Games room – pool tables and dart boards
  • Library
  • Gym
  • Coffee shop or bar
  • Barbecue areas and gardens
  • Laundry
  • Furnished accommodation
  • Catered dining hall. 

Personal development and support

Getting involved in university life outside your studies helps you develop new skills useful for your future career. To improve your leadership and negotiating skills, you could join the college executive committee to represent student views and plan college events.

You will have access to a mentoring system in you college to support your personal development and wellbeing. Members of staff and the local community are available to offer advice and support outside your studies.

Durham college allocation

There are 17 colleges for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, with one dedicated postgraduate college, Ustinov College.

  • You will apply to your preferred college while you are at the International Study Centre (in January and February). Please note that this is a preference, and is not a guarantee.
  • The University allocates colleges by the end of April for undergraduate students and end of June for postgraduate students.

Upon successful progression, new students are formally welcomed to Durham University and their college with a ceremony held at Durham Cathedral. This event is known as matriculation.

Visit your college

As a student at the International Study Centre you will have the chance to visit some of the colleges and we will help you make your college preference while you are studying with us.

The International Study Centre has done a great job, allowing me to be more confident and interested, actually, in the course itself.

Which college is right for me?

Each college offers a similar experience, but the atmosphere is defined by architecture, history, location and community.

The oldest college was formed in 1832 and the newest was formed in 2006. More traditional colleges have formal dinners and often wear robes, other colleges are focused on competitive sports or creative activities. One college even has accommodation in part of Durham Castle.

Whichever college you join, you can be sure of a friendly and supportive place to live and socialise with new friends. Explore the colleges.

Jia Lin from Malaysia

Hatfield College is actually my first choice and I got into it. I really like how it’s really close to the city centre, and the facilities, they are perfect, they have library, the rooms are great, and it’s fully catered and it’s so close to the science site. So, the walking distance won’t be very far for me, that’s why I chose Hatfield College.

Jia Lin from Malaysia
Studied International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering
Now studying BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences


and 17 colleges in a unique collegiate system

Graeme Jorgenson Durham Tutor

Meet your tutors

The Durham College system creates a supportive environment for students, which allows them to have points of contact when they're studying. I think our students will really enjoy that when they go to Durham.

Graeme Jorgenson
Subject Leader for Science
Durham University International Study Centre