Find out what life is really like at Durham University

CollegesFeaturedPostgraduateStudent experience

Living out of college as a PG student

Collingwood Durham stag

Coming back to university after graduating with your undergraduate degree can be quite daunting, especially if you have been away from studies for a while, trust me, I know! Luckily, Durham’s collegiate system is here to make you feel more at home, more at ease and less alone. I personally have lived out of college three years out of the four years I’ve been at Durham so from experience, I can say even for livers out, there is still a place for you at your college no matter where you live!

What is a college?

If you’re not familiar with a collegiate university, you may be wondering to yourself, “what even is a college?”. Well, a college is not simply just accommodation, although it does consist of rooms to accommodate you if you need them. Even if you decide to live out, you will still be a part of a college regardless.

There are 17 different colleges at Durham, including a postgraduate only college (Ustinov). A college at Durham University is a mixed community of staff and students which are not based on subject areas. There is a range of student-led activities and facilities available within every college for you to enjoy.

Every college has a college bar and JCR (Junior common room) where there can be board games, TVs, PlayStations/Wii, pool tables and more depending on your college. Collingwood in particular has a modern gym, a library and a dance studio where gym classes are also hosted (one of my favourite facilities about Collingwood). As a liver-out, the gym is also available for you if you have a membership which you can purchase at the beginning of the year!

Even after you graduate, you will always remain a part of your college community as a part of their alumni

Collingwood JCR

College food

So, the majority of colleges at Durham are catered which is mainly guaranteed for livers-in. However, as a liver-out, we’re not completely excluded from meals at college. We are able to request a meal at reception for a price but it is relatively cheap (though the price may vary across colleges).

College events

Let’s talk about events!

The first few events you’ll probably experience at college are during freshers’ week. A week of various activities and events is hosted at college and you have an opportunity to purchase a wristband at the beginning of the term.

There are many events hosted in college, mainly being formal dinners, which can range in theme throughout the year such as ‘black tie’, ‘under the sea’, ‘a night in Vegas’ and many more. The cost of formals does range in price depending on different factors. There are formal dinners as well only for postgraduate students which is a nice opportunity to get to know more postgraduate students who you otherwise may not have met.

Some colleges also host ‘meet and greets’ where you come into college and meet other postgraduate students, chat, and eat some pizza and snacks. Meet and greets can also be in the form of a formal dinner but it really just depends on your college!

College support

As well as the overall support you receive from the wider university, there is loads of support within your college. Colleges have different departments such as finance and welfare which are useful in your time of need. College support is beneficial as they prioritise you as a member of the college and are there whenever you need them. Welfare usually hosts drop-in sessions as well for anyone who is part of the college, if you live in or out.

College usually sends out emails every week keeping you in the loop with what’s happening around college, events being hosted, changes being made, and drop-in sessions, etc so I never really feel distanced from the college no matter how far I live out!

Ultimately the main difference between living within the college and living out of the college is literally where you sleep and mainly eat. There is no real divide other than that. As a post-graduate student, you may feel like you have less time to come into college especially if you live out but the most important thing to remember is that your college is your space, and you will always be welcome there with open arms!

Discover more

About postgraduate study at Durham here

Download our prospectus and college guide here

Follow our students on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Cynthia Lawson

Hi! My name is Cynthia. I graduated from Durham in 2021 with a degree in BA in Criminology and I am currently I post-graduate in the field of Social Research Methods. In Durham, each student is assigned a college, and I was assigned to unarguable the best college in Durham (with the best bar), Collingwood!

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