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Biochemistry at Durham University

Durham UniversitySciences → Biochemistry

Accomodation: Rating of 4
Cost of Living: Rating of 4
IT Facilities: Rating of 4
Library: Rating of 5
Nightlife: Rating of 3

Shops & Banks: Rating of 4
Societies/Clubs: Rating of 5
Sports Facilities: Rating of 4
Student Union: Rating of 4
Teaching: Rating of 5

Durham University, or somewhat controversially, The University of Durham, is cited as the third oldest university in the UK behind Oxbridge. Oxbridge, of course, being two universities and not one as this hideous abbreviation suggests. Founded in 1832, the University inevitably consists of some truly beautiful period buildings. The City Of Durham itself is a World Heritage Site, the only city in the world to be called so. This also inevitably leads to huge competition for places at one of the best and most prestigious universities in the world. With an application ratio of 6.5:1 in 2005 and 7.1:1 in 2006, competition for places is twice as fierce as that for Oxbridge. Indeed, some courses, Sport Studies for example, have up to 80 applicants per place.

Few prospective students realise that Durham University is a collegiate university. The college system provides a superb supportive and friendly atmosphere, and is unique (save Oxbridge) in that students spend a considerable amount of time with students from other years. This in itself allows broader social networking and creates a sort of family feel within the University. The colleges are clearly split into two distinctive locations and also stigmas. The 'Hill' colleges are those situated on South Road, the street leading from the South and bisecting the City Centre. Colleges here are Grey College, Collingwood College, Van Mildert College, Trevelyan College, St. Aidan's College, St. Mary's College and Josephine Butler College. The general feeling amongst the Hill students is one of camaraderie and a quiet satisfaction in knowing that we are indeed the superior race. The other colleges are situated on the Bailey of the castle and so are the 'Bailey Colleges'. Bailey Colleges include University College (Castle College, it's in a castle, Harry Potter or what) (no, really, part of Harry Potter was filmed here), St. John's College (the religious one; mostly virgins), St. Cuth's College (stunning plaza, bloody good at rugby), St. Chad's College (quiet, mainly geeks) and Hatfield College (most hated of the University, general (unfair) opinion of being rich and stuck up). There is some controversy over the true placement of the College of St Hild and Bede, with some claiming it for the Bailey and others for the Hill. At the moment it stays with the Bailey, but when the Hill finish building their forts and restock on ammo, it will be reclaimed for the Hill in the Third Durham War.

Of course, being such an old and traditional university and in a picturesque setting, the University attracts mainly white middle class students from families with an extensive educational background. You may be surprised to learn that despite being relatively close to the Scottish border, more than 70% of students are from south of Birmingham. There are vast numbers of students from traditional, expensive private and public schools, Sevenoaks in Kent, Sedbergh and Ampleforth in Yorkshire, Uppingham etc. and also students from old, established grammar schools, Bradford Grammar, Lancaster Royal Grammar, Dartford Grammar, Wycombe High; the list is endless to say the least. Somewhat unfortunately in my view, the proportion of students from ethnic minorities is extremely small. The official figures stand at something like 12% ethnicity but in reality it seems to be much much smaller than that. Very rarely will you walk through the streets of Durham and see a family of Muslims or Jews. The vast majority of the population of the University and the surrounding areas is White British.

The facilities of the University of Durham are simply outstanding. A combination of historic libraries and cutting edge laboratories make for a world class learning institution. Indeed, the Times in 2006 gave the following scores (ALL OUT OF 24)
24: Economics, Molecular Biosciences, Organismal Biosciences, Philosophy, Physics
23: Archeology, Education, Health Subjects, Psychology, Theology
22: Engineering, French German, Middle Eastern and African Studies, Politics
21: Classics and ancient history, Mathematics and Statistics, Sociology
20: Italian, Russian
16: Iberian Languages.
How on Earth one department manages to be so much worse than the rest is anybody's guess..

The cost of living in Durham is much less than you may expect. The prices of food and drink in general in the North East are lower than those further South. My college bill, per term, including food and full accommodation during term time was £1,350. This is not at all bad, but immediately a problem is caused. If, like myself, you are banking on the Student Loans Company for money and trying to not involve your parents, you have no chance. If your parents earn enough so that you don't qualify for a grant, they should expect to have to subsidise you. The quantity of work with which you will experience will not allow time for a part time job, which the university discourages anyway. The collegiate system is brilliant in that it's about £1.30 a pint. So you can get shitfaced for about £15 if you're a lad, and about £6.50 if you're not. Money, if carefully managed, should not cause a problem. One piece of advice. CHECK YOUR BANK BALANCE. Don't be scared of it, I was in my first year and ended the year exactly at my overdraft limit and had a pretty shit summer. Bite the bullet and look at the numbers on the screen.

The main University library is immense and has books on every topic from astrophysics to oenology.

Ah. Nightlife. Possibly Durham's biggest downfall. Sorry, it's rubbish.

Nightlife. Durham's biggest downfall. To those of you coming from large cities and used to having the sweaty bodies of thousands of people rubbing against you from all angles, you are in for a hell of a shock. Durham has three mainstream nightclubs in three distinctive categories.

KLUTE: A badly converted 19th century boathouse situated on the banks of the river Weir. The size of Klute is roughly 100 metres squared, and this is over two floors. The bottom floor is mainly just a bar and cloakroom. The top floor be where da party at. A DJ booth which is really just a well disguised CD player (fact!) blasts out some fairly decent tunes until about 12.45am. Then the cheese kicks in. Everybody in Klute will be wrecked by this time, due to the infamous Quaddy Voddy, £4 for 4 shots of vodka, orange and cranberry in a badly washed pint glass. Chin it, fresher. Large smoking areas outside great for socialising, practicing falling over.

Studio: Much bigger. Open till 4am occasionally, usually charge £2 entry. Two floors playing two distinctive types of music, be it RnB and rock or DnB and Cheese. Not busy every night, some nights dead. Bottles on a Tuesday £1.50, usually 2.50.

Loveshack : Mainstream music. Probably best club in Durham in terms of facilities and extras, ie. dancers, axe grinders, occasional gladiator themed inflatables. Charges £3 entry, drinks around the £2 mark for a pint and about £7 for a massive cocktail. Chin it, fresher.

Sport at Durham is huge. With two distinctively placed sports centres, there is space and facilities for every sport under the sun. The Graham Sports Centre at Maiden Castle, a 10 minute walk from the city centre, has numerous rugby, football, hockey, lacrosse and cricket pitches. The sports hall here has several badminton, basketball, squash courts and 5-a-side football pitches. The Racecourse centre is primarily used for rugby and football, with occasional hockey and cricket matches during the summer. Around 60% of students play a sport, which in a university of 10,000 students is a vast number.

Teaching is lecture, seminar and tutorial base, as a kind of hierarchy. Lectures will take everyone in the course in that year, a seminar led by a professor will have between 6-20 people, and a tutorial will have around 3-6 people in, depending on the course and year size. By third year, many students will have one on one tutorials, discussing dissertations and last minute exam preparation.

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Written by hillrules on 30th Jun 2008


Durham UniversitySciences → Biochemistry

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