Life at South


Hello, you’ve been allocated to South College. Congratulations!

A Southie

You are now a Southie, and exciting times are ahead. If you are anything like me, when you decided on Durham University being the one for you, you scoured the internet to find out all you could about the collegiate system. Your search history may look something along the lines of “Durham’s best college”, “Do you get to live in the Castle?” and “What are Durham traditions?” (read until the end to get answers). And with other colleges having literal decades on us, even after getting to page 17 on that The Student Room thread or watching your 9th YouTube video of college rankings, South may still be a bit of a mystery to you. So, here I am to give you the rundown on Durham’s newest college


South is a self-catered college, so I’d recommend learning some basic recipes. Being self-catered means you get the flexibility to eat what you want and when you want. You’ll also get a head start on your catered peers for when you move out for second year (more on this later!). South is also a gowned college, so although new, we do have traditional aspects.

A typical bedroom at South

Modern accommodation

South also has some of the best and most modern accommodations out of all the colleges. There are two types of rooms: en-suite and townhouses. En-suite rooms are organised into flats of five to eight students, and townhouse rooms are organised into blocks of twelve students. Each floor of a townhouse has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, so you’ll only ever be sharing a bathroom with one other person. Both en-suite and townhouses have shared kitchens/dining spaces for all your cooking and socialising needs. In your rooms, you’ll have a ¾ bed, a desk with lighting, plenty of storage space, and a full-length mirror (so no need to buy one!). Head over to the South College website for some photos of the accommodation.

Location, location, location

South College is a hill college located on the Mount Oswald site. According to Google Maps, it is a 12-minute walk to the Bill Bryson Library, a 26-minute walk to the closest Tesco in town and a 28-minute walk to Maiden Castle, the university’s sports centre. But with enough practice, you’ll master the art of speed walking (I used to make it into town in 20 minutes when I lived in South). It’s also worth noting that hill colleges aren’t as far away as they’re made out to be, and when you don’t feel like walking, there’s a bus stop nearby where you can get a £1 student day ticket.

The Nest

On-site facilities

On the doorsteps of your accommodation, you have a ton of facilities available to you.

In the Pitcairn building, you’ll collect your post, have access to the study rooms and be able to socialise in the Nest. The Nest is South’s college bar, and there’s a variety of activities put on throughout the year, from quizzes to paint and sip and Mario Kart competitions to karaoke (lots and lots of karaoke, it’s kind of become our thing). Moreover, we share the MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) and the Hub with our neighbouring college, John Snow. In the MUGA, you can participate in various courted outdoor sports, and the Hub has a gym equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, a yoga and dance studio, and music rooms. The Hub also has a dining space that can seat around 300 students, which brings me to the next section of this rundown.

Gowned formals

As mentioned, South is a gowned college, meaning we have gowned formals. Formals are held in the Hub, hosted by college. They’re a lovely opportunity to get dressed up, have a sit-down meal with your peers, and celebrate what it means to be a Southie. We also toast our college mascot, Oswald the Owl, with our college motto: Libertas, Aequalitas, Civitas Totius mundi (Freedom, Equality, and Global Citizenship). Formals are a joyous occasion, and with the help of the JCR Committee, they are often themed.


The JCR (Junior Common Room) Committee consists of an elected sabbatical president and elected student volunteers in roles such as Chair, Treasurer, Welfare Officer, Events Officer, etc. This committee will be some of the first faces you’ll get to know as you move into South and will be there throughout the academic year to enrich your student experience. There’ll be plenty of opportunities for you to get involved within the JCR throughout your years at Durham, and I encourage you to do so. It’s such a rewarding experience, and the community at South is like no other. You’ll also be looked after by college staff, including our porters, who are absolute legends and truly the backbone of this college.

South Day – a festival-style event at college after exams!

Clubs and societies

South also has a wide range of sports clubs and societies, from cheerleading to rowing and kazoo to theatre; there’s something for everyone. However, if you arrive at South and find that there isn’t a club or society you would’ve liked to see, the brilliant thing about being in a new college is that it is so easy to form a new club/society. For instance, in my first year, I helped set up and co-president the Netball Club, and it’s been great to see SCNC go from strength to strength.

South College netball team

Life after first year

So, what happens after first year? Does college life end? It is pretty common for students to move out into town. However, plenty of students also remain in college. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll always be able to enjoy college life. You’ll still be able to come back and enjoy a beverage at the Nest, use the facilities on-site and attend the many events throughout the year, including balls, South Day, trips to the cat cafe and ice-skating during the festive season. Once you’re a member of South, you’re a member for life.

And finally

If you’ve made it to the end, thank you. Although only three years old, there’s so much to cover when it comes to South College. I hope I’ve helped give some insight into what your time here at South could be like. And the answers you seek: what is Durham’s best college? You may expect me to say South, but I’ll be honest, the best college is the one you end up in. So, whether South was your first choice or it didn’t make your top 5, know that there is a high chance you’ll end up loving wherever you are as, ultimately, you get out of college life what you put in. And although South doesn’t have a castle for you to live in or the decades of tradition that other colleges may have, I’d argue that the beautiful brand-new rooms and the opportunities you receive make up for it. We’re in our formative years, meaning that what you do at South during your time at Durham University may well be part of the traditions that future South students go on to enjoy. You get the opportunity to shape the college, make your mark and meet great people along the way. Sounds like a win to me.

Discover more

Again, congratulations on both your Durham University offer and South College allocation. You should be proud of yourself, and I wish you the best of luck. If you want to know more about South, check out @south_collegedu, @southcollegejcr, and @south_college_vice_principal on Instagram.

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See you soon!


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