Durham is one of the world’s leading universities as shown by its World Top 100 position in the QS World University Rankings 2019, where it is ranked 74th.
In national league tables, Durham is consistently recognised as one of the top 10 universities in the UK. The University is ranked seventh in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, fifth in the Guardian University Guide 2019 and sixth in The Complete University Guide 2019. Excellence in teaching and research
In world subject rankings, Durham also demonstrates its strength in teaching and research.
In the 2018 QS World University Subject Rankings Durham University achieved its best results to date with nine subjects in the top 50 and a total of 16 subjects in the top 100. For the second year running Theology & Religion at Durham has been ranked third in the world whilst Archaeology and Geography have both retained their top 10 positions.
This is also the first year that QS has included Classics in its subject league tables and Durham has been ranked 25th in the world.
In addition, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Law are all placed in the top 50 in the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings by Subject.
Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University, said: “Durham is one of the world’s great universities and one of the most distinctive. We aim to build on success with an ambitious strategy that is seeing us invest in new facilities that will enhance research, teaching and the wider student experience while continuing to attract some of the world’s best academics to Durham.”
Shaped by the past
After the Dark Ages in Europe, the 7th Century saw a flowering of thought and culture in the North East of England. Bede - poet, scientist, historian and the greatest European scholar of the 7th and 8th centuries - is buried in Durham, as is St Cuthbert, who established 'English' Christianity from its Celtic and Roman roots.
The Lindisfarne Gospels, 'one of the great landmarks of human cultural achievement', were produced nearby and resided in Durham with the body of St Cuthbert until the 16th century when they were removed to London - our 'Gospel Book' returned to Durham in 2013 for a major exhibition. The 'Cuthbert Community' became one of the richest in Europe, with lands extending from the Tyne to the Tees and beyond. This scholarly, monastic community was a precursor of the modern University tradition which spread across Europe and around the world.
Durham's 11th-century Norman Cathedral was built between 1096 and 1130 and is one of the world's truly great buildings. Durham Castle, now part of the University, dates from 1072 and was the seat of the all-powerful Prince-Bishops who wielded secular and religious power over much of the North of England, with their own armies, system of taxation and coinage - until the end of the Prince-Bishopric in 1832 Durham was effectively a state within a state.
Durham became one of England's leading centres of medieval scholarship, along with Oxford and Cambridge. Indeed, three Colleges - now part of Oxford University - were founded from Durham (University College and Balliol College, and in 1286 Durham College was run from Durham to train scholars for Durham for 300 years until it became incorporated into the University of Oxford as Trinity College).
Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell's attempts to formally establish a University for the North in Durham were subsumed by politics and North-South rivalries, and it was not until 1832, as the Prince-Bishopric declined lost his powers, was Durham finally endowed with the Castle and lands and granted degree awarding powers by the king as England's third University. Durham University is the inheritor of a continuous line of learning and scholarship dating from Bede and Cuthbert to the present day.
Creating the future
Durham has always been a modern, forward-looking University. With a medieval World Heritage Site at our heart, our new buildings continue the tradition of important and innovative architecture. Durham was one of the first universities to admit women on an equal footing to men (1890), to establish medical training (1834) and the first to award Civil and Mining Engineering degrees to meet regional and national needs during the industrial revolution (1838).
Durham led in the development of science and established one of the earliest observatories in England. Durham University was based in two cities for over 100 years, its medical school at King's College and other Colleges in Newcastle becoming the new and independent University of Newcastle in 1963.
Durham was also the first University to establish overseas campuses a century before the concept was reinvented: in Barbados in 1875 and Sierra Leone in 1876. In 1992 the University established a significant presence at our Queen's Campus in the heart of Tees Valley, reinitiating medical teaching and breaking disciplinary boundaries to enhance public health and social well being.
From 2016 onwards, Queen’s Campus has been repurposed, in part as Durham University International Study Centre, where international students develop study and language skills in preparation for undergraduate and postgraduate study.