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Diversity and Inclusion

The Department endorses: 

  • An inclusive and supportive working environment for academic staff, non-academic staff, students, visitors and partners 
  • Discussion that is tolerant and open to challenge 
  • Personal development and cultural understanding 
  • Intellectual curiosity and respectful freedom of expression 

Athena SWAN Bronze Award

Athena Swan Bronze Logo

In 2020 our Department was awarded an Athena Swan Bronze charter. This recognises our commitment to advancing the careers of women, and work undertaken to address gender equality in areas such as representation, progression of students into academia, the journey through career milestones, and the working environment for all staff. Between 2020 and 2024, when the charter is subject to renewal, we will be working on a variety of actions including: 

  • considering how we widen participation into undergraduate level and progress students to further study 
  • developing the support offered to early-career researchers for their next steps, with particular attention to gender balance in the career pipeline 
  • enhancing staff career development and wellbeing 
  • monitoring and addressing the balance of our extra-curricular events programme 
  • monitoring the diversity of our syllabus and teaching 

The Athena Swan submission was led by a departmental self-assessment team, made up of representatives from undergraduates, postgraduates and staff, and informed by surveys and focus groups across the entire student and staff body. 

 If you have a comment or question about the Athena Swan process relating to the Department's own bronze award, you should contact Dr Katie Muth as the current Self-Assessment Team Lead. The University's EDI page gives details on the wider work on institutional awards. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion committee 

The Department's EDI Committee meets at least once per term. Its purpose is to promote awareness of EDI issues within the Department and to propose to the Board of Studies actions aimed at advancing the equal opportunity of all students and staff within the Department. The membership represents a spectrum of staff and student categories, in terms of levels of study, career stages and position, and aspects of EDI. As well as addressing EDI issues in relation to regular Departmental activity, EDI committee considers 'spotlight' issues. These have included: 

  • good practice in recruitment, and equality and diversity in progression and promotion 
  • EDI and the department's public facing activities 
  • open days 
  • flexible working 
  • our EDI and teaching good practice framework (offering guidelines for teaching sensitive and potentially offensive material) 

If you have a suggestion for an EDI initiative, future spotlight issues, or wish to get involved contact the current chair, Dr Katie Muth.

Disability and accessibility 

Students, staff and visitors are encouraged to approach the Department to request practical support in matters pertaining to disability and accessibility. The Department’s Disability Officer can be contacted via and will be happy to discuss the support that can be provided by the Department and the University’s central services. 

The University’s Disability Support Service aims to provide advice and practical support so that students can minimise the effects of their disabilities and make the most of their time here. The service can provide information, advice and assistance to any students whose studies are affected by disabilities. This includes specific learning difficulties and medical or mental health conditions. Information is available on the Service's webpages. 

Accessibility information is available for some of our buildings: 

International students  

The International Students Officer oversees the successful integration of international students into the Department. Should you have any questions, encounter any difficulties, or have suggestions for improvements in the ways we seek to make our international students feel welcome, please contact English Studies. Enquiries about international exchanges should be directed to the co-ordinator, Dr Samuel Thomas 

Staff-student consultative committee 

The Staff-Student Consultative Committee is a key point of contact for all aspects of students' academic experience in modules and programmes offered by the Department. SSCC considers issues of accessibility of the department to its students. SSCC meetings are student-led in an environment conducive to inclusivity and openness. The Committee tries to appoint at least one student who is able to speak on behalf of overseas students. The current chair is Dr Joshua Pugh

Environment champion 

Environmental issues intersect with numerous aspects of diversity and exclusion, and climate justice is also a question of social justice. At Durham University, Greenspace brings together environmental initiatives and activities: it covers strategies for reducing carbon emissions across the University, as well as questions of waste, procurement and fair trade. The environment champion is an advocate for environmental best practice, and a point of liaison between Greenspace and students and staff within the Department. Please contact English Studies with any questions or feedback about environmental practices within the Department or the University.