List of social activities at Durham University

This is a list of social activities at Durham University, including details of clubs, societies and other common leisure activities associated with Durham University.

Approximately 130 student clubs and organizations run on Durham's campus.[1]





College boat clubs

Blade Club
Collingwood College Boat Club
Grey College Boat Club
Hatfield College Boat Club
Hild Bede Boat Club
Josephine Butler College Boat Club
St Aidan's College Boat Club
St Chad's College Boat Club
St Cuthbert's Society Boat Club
St John's College Boat Club
St Mary's College Boat Club
Trevelyan College Boat Club
University College Boat Club
Ustinov Boat Club
Van Mildert Boat Club
George Stephenson College Boat Club
John Snow College Boat Club

Student Unions

Durham has a central students's Union as well as junior common rooms (or equivalent) in each college.

Durham Union Society

Durham Union Society

Free Speech Since 1842
Established 1842
Institution Durham University
Location Palace Green, Durham, England
54°46′27″N 1°34′32″W / 54.77404°N 1.57543°W / 54.77404; -1.57543 (Durham Union Society)
President George Jackson
Type Student Debating Union
Homepage Union homepage

The Durham Union Society is a debating society founded in 1842 by the students of the Durham University. Commonly referred to as the "DUS" or "The Durham Union", it is the university's largest society with over 3,000 members in residence. Until 1899, when the Durham Students' Union's ancestor (DSU) was founded, the society acted as the university students' union.


The Union was founded in 1842.[12][13] The purpose of the Union was, and remains, a counterbalance to the collegiate system, allowing students from the University's different colleges to meet both to debate and socialise more informally. The first debates were held in the reading rooms of Hatfield Hall and University College. In 1872 the Society moved to what is now the Palace Green library, where the University’s first purpose-built debating chamber was established.[12] The Union Society acted, at this time, as the central social unit for the students of Durham University. The Durham Students' Union's ancestor was developed in 1899 to take on this role, though the DUS has retained its social side.

To this end, the society bought the old site of St Aidan's College at 24 North Bailey to create a social club (naming it the 'North Bailey Club' or, more informally '24').[12] This contains a bar which is open to all DUS members; a snooker room; a reading room that the DUS uses for functions, such as post debate entertaining, and an en-suite guest room that can be hired out by members. Student members also have the opportunity to rent large bedrooms as student accommodation.[14] 24 North Bailey is also the setting for the vast majority of the Union regular social events.

By 1977, debates were so well attended that the original debating chamber was no longer adequately large enough. It moved across Palace Green to the Pemberton Building, which sits in the shadow of the Cathedral.[12] The Union Society has been housed there ever since. The building and debating chamber are also used by the university for lectures and examinations.

The Union today

The Union Society's offices on Palace Green are shown in the centre of the image. To the right is the Department of Theology and Durham Cathedral

The Union Society still maintains its offices and debating chamber on the Palace Green World Heritage Site, as well as 24 North Bailey. It hosts weekly debates featuring prominent external speakers, as well as inviting address speakers and holding social events. Recent speakers include the actress Imelda Staunton; BBC Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine; radio and television personality Nicholas Parsons; Channel Four newsreader Jon Snow; Met Chief Sir Ian Blair; London Mayor Boris Johnson; film critic Barry Norman; 'Rocky Horror' writer and Crystal Maze presenter Richard O'Brien; director and food critic Michael Winner; Oscar nominated actor Patrick Stewart; the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Shirley Williams; the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern; politician, journalist, and economic consultant Lord Howell; Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow; and ex-UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.[15]

The Society also excels at competitive debating, having won the European Universities Debating Championship in 2005, and more recently having teams reaching the final of the European Championship, Oxford IV, Cambridge IV and John Smith Memorial Mace and the quarter-final of the World Universities Debating Championship. It also hosts the prestigious Durham Intervarsity competition, the Durham Open and Durham Schools; the world's largest residential school's debating competition.

The social highlight of the year is the annual Ball held in Michaelmas term. The programme for the evening varies, but usually consists of a champagne reception, dinner, music, and after dinner dancing.

Reciprocal relations

The Union's members enjoy reciprocal relations with, and use of facilities at, the Oxford Union, Cambridge Union, Edinburgh Union, The Hist & The Phil, both of Trinity College Dublin.[16]

Notable members

Academic societies

Drama societies

Durham Student Theatre

Durham Student Theatre (DST, formerly Durham University Student Theatre, DUST) is a student-run organisation responsible for theatre at Durham University. In contrast to most British universities it is a separate organisation within the status of a students' union, rather than a part of Durham Students' Union, the primary student representative body at Durham University.

DST acts as an umbrella organisation for the many theatre companies affiliated to it, bur also acts as a union for 800 members: students who love the performing arts. Being not only one of the active theatre societies in the UK, with around 60 shows performed in venues across Durham each year, DST is also one of the few with their own student-run theatre, The Assembly Rooms Theatre, Durham. Shows are performed all over Durham, from the iconic Durham Cathedral to the Indoor Market. Durham theatre companies regularly head up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as locations across the UK. DST also celebrates and encourages new pieces of writing at its own yearly Durham Drama Festival, a week-long drama festival attracting talent and original writing from Durham University and national UK universities.

It also includes:

The Durham Revue

The Durham Revue is an established sketch comedy group. Although comedy revues have been in existence at Durham University since the early 1950s, a society dedicated solely to producing sketch comedy wasn't established until 1973. In 1973, four students founded 'DUST' (Durham University Sensible Thespians), which initially produced comedy revue shows exclusively for Durham student audiences. However, in 1977, under the presidency of Arthur Bostrom, DUST took their first show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This inaugural Fringe show included John Inge (Bishop of Worcester) and Jennie Campbell (former BBC comedy producer). The group have continued to take a show to the Fringe every year, changing its name to the 'Durham Revue' in 1988.

The Durham Revue produce a series of shows each year, performing at the college balls of Durham University, The Assembly Rooms and Gala Theatre (Durham), Cambridge Arts Theatre (Cambridge), Oxford Playhouse (Oxford) and touring across the UK.

Each year, the Durham Revue invite Cambridge University's Footlights and Oxford University's The Oxford Revue to join them at Durham City's Gala Theatre for a national student comedy showcase. The event has become a tradition at Durham University and a highlight of the social calendar. Both the Footlights and The Oxford Revue hold similar events at their respective universities, to which The Durham Revue is also invited.

The Durham Revue membership generally consists of six writers and performers. Membership is based upon audition and interview, and these take place just once a year during Michaelmas Term.

Past members have gone on to become award-winning writers, actors, producers, and comedians, including BBC's Jeremy Vine.

Miscellaneous societies

Leisure activities


  1. "Durham Student's Union: Find a Society". DSU. Archived from the original on January 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  2. Sears, Maddy (30 January 2014). "York College Varsity Announced". Palatinate. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  3. "Doxbridge". Sports Party. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  4. "Cambridge Companion To: Doxbridge". The Tab. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  5. Honorary Palatinate Awards
  6. Hannah Graham (11 April 2016). "Meet Durhamstrang - the university quidditch team hoping to become European champs". Chronicle Live. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  7. Durham College Rowing. "Novice Cup Regatta". Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  8. HEADS OF HOUSE COMMITTEE. "Minutes AoB (d)(i)" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-08-21.
  9. Durham College Rowing. "Senate Cup". Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  10. Durham College Rowing. "Pennant Series". Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  11. Durham College Rowing. "Admirals Regatta". Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  12. 1 2 3 4 History Durham Union Society, Accessed October 2006
  13. The Times Monday, Mar 18, 1912; pg. 4; Issue 39849; col G
  14. 24 NBC Durham Union Society, Accessed October 2006
  15. Tuesday night Addresses Durham Union Society, Accessed October 2006
  16. Why Get Involved Durham Union Society, Accessed October 2006
  22. "Durham University Chemical Society". Retrieved 13 February 2016.
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