7 reasons to study in Durham

16 Jul 2021
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

Known for its cathedral, castle and collegiate university, Durham is a stunning and historic destination for students. Its rich art, culture and food scenes, combined with its idyllic location and world-leading university, make it an ideal home for nearly 20,000 students.

Read on to find out our top 7 reasons to study in this incredible city.

1. Its rich history

First and foremost, Durham has a deep and rich history that permeates every inch of the city, from its winding cobbled streets and historic city centre to its picturesque hills and stunning parks.

The city is perhaps most famous for Durham Cathedral, which is one of the greatest Medieval buildings and examples of Norman architecture in Europe, as well as Durham Castle, which was built to protect the country 900 years ago. Together, they were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986 to preserve their cultural heritage. Today, the castle is used by the city’s university for teaching and accommodation. Which leads us nicely to Durham University…

2. An outstanding university

Durham University is the country’s third oldest university, after Oxford and Cambridge, and regularly appears in the top 10 UK universities in The Times and The Guardian league tables. Like its Oxbridge predecessors, Durham is one of the few British universities to operate a collegiate system, where every student joins one of 17 colleges that give a sense of support, belonging and community, as well as providing opportunities for socialising and sport.

Durham is a Russell Group and N8 Research Partnership university, highlighting its outstanding, nationally-renowned research, and was named Sunday Times University of the Year in 2005. As well as benefiting from exceptional teaching, students get to enjoy one of the UK’s most magnificent campuses, as the university estate includes 63 listed buildings and the stunning Palace Green, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. A beautiful city

It’s not just the university itself that exudes beauty; the city of Durham is a veritable treasure trove of winding hills, pretty buildings, luscious greenery and riverside walks. Described as ‘the most perfect little city in the world’ by Bill Bryson (although he used to be university chancellor, so he might be a little biased) Durham boasts a city centre that’s been a designated conservation area since 1968.

If you want to get away from the multitude of shops and charming pubs Durham has to offer, the city is also home to a number of parks and the university’s wonderful Botanic Garden. The North Pennines Area of Outstanding National Beauty is also on Durham’s doorstep while, just slightly further afield, Northumberland National Park, North York Moors National Park and Yorkshire Dales National Park provide ample opportunities to take a break from studying and reconnect with nature.

4. Durham’s delectable food scene

Durham is a culinary melting pot of tantalising tastes and smells from all over the world. Whatever cuisine you’re hungry for and whatever your budget, Durham has you covered. Lebanese, Italian, Indian, Turkish and French cooking entices students into eateries throughout the city, while there is also the plethora of traditional British pubs and restaurants that you’d expect from one of the UK’s most historic cities.

In 2018, Durham was honoured with a Sustainable Food Cities accolade, a prestigious honour only a handful of places across the country have been awarded. This recognises that the food in Durham (as well as being absolutely delicious!) is sustainable, healthy and local. Durham’s farm-to-table approach means that students here benefit from some of the best ingredients Britain has to offer, all sourced from incredible local producers.

5. Its art and culture

Durham is a city awash with art and culture. Its magnificent architecture makes it a photographer’s dream, while Lumiere, the country’s leading light festival, illuminates the city once a year. Indoors, the aptly named Outstanding Art is Durham’s premier contemporary art gallery, rivalling its London equivalents with innovative pieces and a swanky cocktail lounge.

If you’re more into visiting museums than sipping cocktails, the city’s Oriental Museum houses a mammoth selection of art and archaeology from Asian and African countries like China, Egypt and Japan. For something a little closer to home, students wanting to learn more about the history of their new city can visit Durham Museum, which brings to life the city’s fascinating past, from Medieval times to the present day.

6. The amazing nightlife

After drinking in all that art and culture, it’s time for an actual beverage, and Durham’s nightlife doesn’t disappoint. The city’s old-world charm disguises a surprisingly thriving pub, bar and club scene. Live music rings out from the inviting glow of traditional taverns and pubs, while more upmarket bars like Ebony’s Champagne Bar provide a fashionable alternative. For something a little different, Wiff Waff is a bar and ping pong club with six tables spread across two floors beneath Durham’s historic market square.

As well as this dynamic and diverse assortment of pubs and bars, Durham is also home to nightclubs like Klute and Studio, where students can dance the night away into the early hours of the morning.

7. Durham’s brilliant location

A bastion of northern England, Durham is ideally located to venture further afield and explore more of what the UK has to offer during your time at university. The city’s compact layout means that all of Durham University’s colleges are within walking distance of its train station, with Newcastle and its plethora of bars and things to do just a 14-minute journey away.

Hop on a train in the opposite direction and you can be in the historic city of York, with its famous walls and streets, in less than an hour, while a direct train ride to the cosmopolitan and bustling Leeds in West Yorkshire takes just 1 hour and 13 minutes.

So, there you have it: seven reasons to study in the beautiful, historic city of Durham. Its university is world-renowned, its food, culture and art scenes enthralling, so what are you waiting for? Find out about our accommodation in Durham here and read up on everything you need to know about the city in our Durham hub.

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Staff writer at The Common Room