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Virtual Visit

Welcome to your virtual visit to University College Durham, where you can experience what we offer. 

During the pandemic we were unable to welcome visitors to University College. Whilst we are now fully open and have a range of tours which can be booked, we have kept these resources for anyone interested in joining our community.

We are a Castle without borders – we hope you will join us and be part of our vibrant community. 

University student
We are delighted to introduce you to University College Durham, known lovingly as “Castle.” Whether you are the first in your family to attend college or the next in a family legacy, we are honoured you’re considering this living learning community. Whether you are from the UK or you hail from abroad like myself, we are pleased to share some of our collegiate culture with you and excited to help you explore Castle as part of your university discernment process.

Professor Wendy Powers
Principal of University College

Whoever you are, whatever you hope to study – all are welcome here! 

Castle is a diverse and robust living learning community designed to enhance your university experience and impact your personal, academic and career development. We provide social activities, academic engagement, peer and staff mentoring, athletic and fine arts opportunities and wellbeing support in an enriching community environment. Our community involves three smaller communities – the JCR (junior common room - undergraduate), MCR (middle common room - postgraduate) and SCR (senior common room staff and beyond) respectively.  Each has elected leaders who dedicate time and talent to ensuring the strongest possible involvement opportunities and community development. The College Office Staff support these leaders and all members of Castle by providing student support, leadership training, accountability to the University Code of Conduct, emergency response and more. Finally, our dedicated Operations and Catering staffs provide the facilities, accommodations, security and dining resources that enable all to flourish. In other words, students and staff work collaboratively to ensure a stellar collegiate environment in which everyone can learn, grow and thrive. 

Even in the present unique times, our goal is still to make sure you’ve learned everything possible to help you discern the collegiate community that feels best for you. I would encourage you to seek a place in which you not only feel comfortable, but in which you will also be challenged, stretched and supported. We believe University College Durham is just such a community, and we wish you all the best as you explore the possibilities. 

Take good care, 

Professor Wendy Powers, PhD 
Principal & Associate Vice Provost 
University College | Durham University 

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Living in a Castle 

Welcome from Gemma Lewis, Curator of Durham Castle and Museum of Archaeology. 

Everyone wants to come to Castle: students, staff, schoolchildren and members of the public. It is a building with nearly 1000 years of history. Its history as a college is relatively recent and the proceeding 800 years saw Durham Castle’s story entwined with that of the Prince-Bishops of Durham, whose semi-regal status made them some of the most powerful and wealthy men in the country. Durham Castle was their seat of power and Palace Green the centre of their administration. 

Today Durham Castle is a Grade I Listed Building, an Accredited Museum and part of the Durham World Heritage Site. These are not just titles for Durham Castle, these are responsibilities, some of which have statutory regulations and it’s why University College is the only college with a curator. As the curator of Durham Castle it is my role to be aware of the regulations and to protect, curate and interpret and make accessible the interior and exterior historic fabric. 

This comes in many different strands. I am involved with much of the public-facing side of Durham Castle, such as the running of Castle Tours and the training of Tour Guides and volunteers who help the 30,000 yearly visitors enjoy their visit to Durham Castle. I also help the student and college community engage with the public, for example through talks and by helping Castle Community Action with large-scale family events. 

One of my main responsibilities is to care for the museum collection and advise on the historic fabric. Whether this is displaying the museum collection, monitoring the environment or being involved with large-scale projects to protect the fabric of the castle for future generations. You will probably find me at quite a few meetings for the large student events such as June Ball and certain college projects. I am also involved with direct teaching in several modules for both Durham University and other HE institutions, and indirect support using collections and historic fabric. 


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