University of Durham

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox British University The University of Durham is a university in England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837, making it England's third oldest University after Oxford and Cambridge (although other higher education institutions, such as University College London and King's College London, had existed previously without formal University status). Located in the city of Durham on the River Wear, it is one of England's leading research universities. The Chancellor of the University is Dr Bill Bryson, appointed by the University's Convocation on 4 April 2005. The University was shortlisted for the Sunday Times University of the Year 2004.




The strong tradition of theological teaching in Durham gave rise to various attempts to form a university there, notably under King Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, who actually issued letters patent for the establishment of a college in 1657. However it was not until 1832, when Parliament passed an Act allowing the Dean and Chapter of Durham to fund a new University, that the University actually came into being. The Act received Royal Assent and became law on 4 July, 1832. The University's Royal Charter was granted on 1 June, 1837 by William IV, with the first students graduating a few days later.

It was founded, as Oxford was also, with one college named University College, which moved into Durham Castle (previously the Bishop's palace) in 1837.

19th century

In 1846, Bishop Hatfield's Hall (later to become Hatfield College) was founded, providing for the first time in any British university the opportunity for students to obtain affordable lodgings with fully-catered communal eating. Elsewhere, the University expanded from Durham into Newcastle in 1852 when the medical school there (established in 1834) became a college of the University. This was joined in 1871 by the College of Physical Sciences (renamed as the College of Science in 1884 and again as Armstrong College in 1904). St Cuthbert's Society was founded in 1888 to cater for non-resident students in Durham, while two teacher-training colleges — St Hild's for women, established in 1858, and The College of the Venerable Bede for men, established in 1839. These merged to form a mixed college (the College of St Hild and St Bede) in 1975. From 1896 these were associated with the University and graduates of St Hild were the first female graduates from Durham in 1898.

For most of the 19th century, University of Durham degrees were subject to a religion test and could only be taken by members of the established church. This situation lasted until the Test Act of 1871. However, 'dissenters' were able to attend Durham and then receive degrees of the University of London, which were not subject to any religious test, on completing their course.

Following the grant of a supplemental charter in 1895 allowing women to receive degrees of the University, the Women's Hostel (St Mary's College from 1919) was founded in 1899. Also in 1899 the Durham Colleges Students' Representative Council (DCSRC) was founded to represent students at the Durham colleges (the Newcastle division having its own SRC). This was renamed as the Durham Students' Union in 1963.

20th century

The Newcastle division of the University, in particular Armstrong College, quickly grew to outnumber the Durham colleges, despite the addition of two Anglican foundations: St Chad's College (1904) and St John's College (1909). A parliamentary bill proposed in 1907 would have fixed the seat of the University in Durham for only ten years, allowing the Senate to choose to move to Newcastle after this. This was blocked by a local MP, with the support of graduates of the Durham colleges, until the bill was modified to establish a federal university with its seat fixed in Durham. This reform also removed the University from the authority of the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral, who had nominally been in charge of the University since its foundation. Thirty years after this, the Royal Commission of 1937 recommended changes in the constitution of the federal University, resulting in the merger of the two Newcastle colleges to form King's College.

After the Second World War, the Durham division began expanding rapidly. St Aidan's Society (St Aidan's College from 1965) was founded in 1947 to cater for non-resident women and the decision was made to expand onto Elvet Hill, vastly expanding the existing pure science provision in Durham, and adding applied science and engineering.

In 1947 the foundation stones for the new St Mary's College building on Elvet Hill was laid by Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II). The new building opened in 1952. In the same year, tensions surfaced again over the Durham-Newcastle divide, with a proposal to change the name of the University to the University of Durham and Newcastle. This motion was defeated in Convocation (the assembly of members of the University) by 135 votes to 129. Eleven years later, with the Universities of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne Act, King's College became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, leaving Durham based solely in its home city.

By this time, the Elvet Hill site was well established, with the first of the new colleges, Grey College (named after the second Earl Grey, who was the Prime Minister when the University was founded) being founded in 1959. Expansion up Elvet Hill continued, with Van Mildert College (1965), Trevelyan College (1966) and Collingwood College (1972) all being added to the University.

These were not the only developments in the University, however. The Graduate Society, catering for postgraduate students, was founded in 1965 (renamed Ustinov College in 2003) and the Roman Catholic seminary of Ushaw College, which had been in Durham since 1808, was licensed as a hall of residence in 1968. By 1990 the last male-only college became mixed, leaving St Mary's as the only single-sex college; St. Mary's, however, will have its first mixed undergraduate intake in 2005.

Queen's Campus, Stockton

In 1992 a joint venture between the University and the University of Teesside saw the Joint University College on Teesside of the Universities of Durham and Teesside (JUCOT) established at Stockton-on-Tees, 23 miles south of Durham.

This was initially intended to grant joint degrees validated by both institutions (BAs and BScs). However, Teesside, which had only become a university in 1992, had difficulties in taking on its responsibilities for the college and Durham took full control of the new college in 1994.

A programme of integration with Durham began, leading to the college becoming University College, Stockton (UCS) in 1996 — a college of the University of Durham and the only college with teaching responsibilities.

Further integration lead to the campus being renamed the University of Durham, Stockton Campus (UDSC) in 1998, removing teaching responsibilities from the College. In 2001, two new colleges, John Snow and George Stephenson, after the physician and the engineer) were established at Stockton, replacing UCS, and the new medical school (which operates in association with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne) took in its first students — the first medics to join Durham since 1963. In 2002, her golden jubilee year, the Queen granted the title "Queen's Campus" to the Stockton site.

Durham today

Missing image
2005 rebranded logotype

In recent years, the University has maintained its strength. One study even ranked it 7th in the English-speaking world (only behind Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, and ahead of institutions such as Yale) in a study of scientific citations carried out by the University of Hong Kong in 2000, while the UK Research Assessment Exercise in 2001 rated Durham research as averaging a 5 rating — "international excellence in more than half of the research activity submitted and attainable levels of national excellence in the remainder". The Teaching Quality Assessments carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency have rated Durham at an average of 22.2/24 in 2003, well above the UK average of 21.6. Durham University Business School's MBA was ranked 61st in the world by the Economist in 2003 and 82nd in the Financial Times in 2004. In the 2004 university league tables, Durham was ranked 8th (The Times), 11th (The Sunday Times) and 12th (The Guardian).

Durham remains one of only a few universities to have won University Challenge twice, with victories in 1977 and 2000, and the Durham University Centre of Cricketing Excellence is one of only three (the others being Oxford and Cambridge) to play first-class matches. Durham was ranked 10th across all sports by BUSA in 2004. Since 1975 the university has played host to the Durham Drama Festival.

In 2002 the University announced that a new college (, to open in 2006, will be built on the Elvet Hill site.

In 2005 the University unveiled a rebranded logotype and renamed itself as 'Durham University', claiming that this reflected a more contemporary and less elitist outlook. The news was poorly received among many academic and student members of the university. However, the official name of the institution remains the University of Durham, and the official coat of arms is unchanged.

Chancellors of the University

Until 1909, the University was nominally governed by the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral. Following the University of Durham Act, 1908 the University has, like most other British universities, been headed by a Chancellor.


Durham is the only British university apart from Oxford and Cambridge to operate a collegiate structure in that all the colleges at Durham are "listed bodies" under the Education Reform Act, 1988, "recognised by the UK authorities as being able to offer courses leading to a degree of a recognised body". This is same legal status as the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and the constituent institutions of the University of Wales, and sets Durham colleges apart from those at the universities of Kent, Lancaster, and York, which have no legal standing. However, unlike at Oxford and Cambridge, there is no teaching at Durham colleges. The colleges dominate the residential, social, sporting, and pastoral functions within the university, and there is heavy student involvement in their operation.

Formal dinners (known as "formals") are held at many colleges; gowns are often worn to these events. There is a great deal of intercollegiate rivalry, particularly in rowing and other sporting activities. There is also rivalry between the older colleges of the Bailey and the newer colleges of the Hill.

List of colleges

Most of the colleges located in Durham itself can be grouped into two areas of the city. Bailey colleges are those located on the "peninsula" formed by a meander of River Wear, and Hill colleges are on Elvet Hill on the other side of the river. The Queen's Campus is 23 miles south of Durham, on the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees.

Bailey colleges

Hill colleges

Elsewhere in Durham

  • Ustinov College (1965) — The postgraduate college, known as the Graduate Society until 2003 when it was renamed after Sir Peter Ustinov, Chancellor of the University (19922004). Its main offices are on Old Elvet in the centre of the city, and, while it has accommodation on the Howland's site on Elvet Hill, it also has a site at Parson's Field site at the end of Old Elvet, so is neither a Bailey College nor truly a Hill College.
  • College of St Hild and St Bede (1975) — Geographically speaking, neither Bailey nor Hill (though closer to the former); the name arises from the merger of two single-sex teacher-training colleges, St Hild's College (female, founded 1858) and The College of the Venerable Bede (male, founded 1839).


Queen's Campus, Stockton


The University holds the powers to award degrees under the Royal Charter of 1837, extended to include the power to award degrees to women under the Supplementary Charter of 1895. However, the rules governing how the University is consituted are to be found in the Statutes put in place by the Universities of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne Act, 1963, and subsequently amended by the Privy Council. This sets out that: "The University shall be governed by a Visitor, Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Convocation, Council, Senate, Boards of Faculties and Boards of Studies."


The Visitor for the University of Durham is the Bishop of Durham. The Visitor is the final arbiter of any dispute within the University, except in those areas where legislation has removed this to the law courts or other ombudsmen.


The Chancellor is the nominal head of the University. He or she is nominated by the Council and Senate and appointed by Convocation.


The Vice-Chancellor is the chief executive of the University. He or she also holds the positions of 'Warden of the Durham Colleges' and is appointed by the Council. The deputy to the Vice Chancellor is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor who also holds the position of 'Sub-Warden of the Durham Colleges' and deputises for the Vice-Chancellor. There may also be additional Pro-Vice-Chancellors.


Convocation is the assembly of members of the University. It consists of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and Pro-Vice-Chancellors, all graduates, the teaching staff (lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, and professors), and the heads of colleges and licensed halls of residence. It meets once a year in order to hear the Vice-Chancellor's Address and to debate any business relating to the University. Its powers are limited to appointing the Chancellor (and even then, only on the nomination of Council and Senate) and the making of representations to the University on any business debated.


Council is the executive body of the University. In addition to representatives from the University it includes the Dean of Durham Cathedral and representatives of the alumni, the Students' Union and the local councils. Its powers include establishing and maintaining colleges, and recognising non-maintained colleges and licensed halls of residence.


Senate is the supreme governing body of the University in academic matters. It nominates the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellors to Council, and recommends the establishment of Faculties and Boards of Studies. It is Senate that grants degrees, and has the authority to revoke them. It also regulates the use of academic dress of the University.


The University is collegiate in structure. There are four different sorts of college: Maintained Colleges and Societies, Recognised Colleges, Licensed Halls of Residence, and Affiliated Colleges. Maintained Colleges are not financially independent of the University and their principals are appointed by Council. The colleges are represented on Council by the Dean of Colleges, chosen from among the principals.

The Recognised Colleges (St John's and St Chad's) and Licensed Halls (Ushaw) are financially independent of the University and have a greater degree of administrative independence than the Maintained Colleges. However, Council must approve the appointment of their principal and be notified of changes to their constitutions. There is also a requirement that they must be within County Durham.

Affiliated Colleges (Codrington College, Barbados and, until 1967, Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone) are overseas institutes that present their students for University of Durham examinations. They are not generally considered part of the collegiate structure of the University and are not listed as colleges in the University Calendar.


The teaching departments of the University are divided into three faculties: Science, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences and Health. Each faculty has a Dean, a Deputy Dean and an Associate Dean. These, along with the heads of the departments in the faculty, the Vice-Chancellor, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, make up the Faculty Board for that faculty. Each department also has a Board of Studies consisting of the Dean and Deputy Dean of their faculty, the teaching staff of the department, and student representatives.

Notable alumni

External links


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