menu icon
Book your open day visit nowClick to book open day

Best universities for a master’s in Durham

Despite a smaller number of institutions than other popular university towns in the UK, Durham holds its place in the postgraduate landscape as a unique, prestigious place to complete a master’s or doctoral qualification. Located in the north east of England, Durham is home to hundreds of years of history. With cobbled streets, a cathedral and a castle, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an inspiring medieval environment. According to legend, the city was established on the final resting place of St. Cuthbert in the 10th Century through divine guidance; its famous cathedral and castle were constructed in the 11th Century, and Durham University took up residence in the castle from 1832. Postgraduate students will find excellent academic opportunities and a relaxed, scholarly lifestyle in the city. 


Which universities are in Durham? 

Durham University 

Durham University is one of the UK’s leading postgraduate institutions, having placed 6th in the country according to the 2023 Complete University Guide league table. It regularly places among the top 100 universities in the world, drawing students from across the globe to study a range of excellent taught and research postgraduate programmes. Established in 1832, the university is based out of the imposing Durham Castle and offers students the chance to immerse themselves in one of the only non-Oxbridge collegiate university systems in the country. Its main buildings are in the heart of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Durham University is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities, offering a strong portfolio of taught and research postgraduate courses. Programmes are underpinned by the latest research and thinking, where students can learn from and be guided by leading practitioners and academics. The university excels across many disciplinary areas, with 90% of its subjects ranked in the top 10 across the UK according to Complete University Guide 2023 league tables. Durham’s educational model is based on cultivating student independence while ensuring expert academic supervision is always available. Practical study, experience opportunities and world-class research capabilities come together to form a leading postgraduate environment. 

Durham University is a collegiate university, meaning students will be a member of one of many prestigious and historic colleges during their time there. Each college has a range of unique facilities and services, ranging from sports facilities and dining or socialising spaces, to unique libraries and events. The university as a whole is home to a huge range of cutting-edge research equipment and technology, designed for students across a range of disciplines. With ten specialist research centres, Durham is a hub for world-leading research and exciting postgraduate opportunities. 

Go to: Search for postgraduate courses at Durham University

Entry Requirements 

Entry requirements for postgraduate study in Durham will vary depending on the course being applied to and the level of study you’re looking to enter. For example, a taught master’s course may require a good (2:1) undergraduate honours degree, while a doctoral research programme will typically ask for a 1st at undergraduate level or a good master’s degree. Submission of a portfolio may be required for some courses, while interviews are a common part of application processes. You can use our course finder tool to get info on course-specific entry requirement. 

What to do in Durham 

When you’re not studying or conducting research, Durham offers a wide range of things to explore.  

Exploring Durham Castle (now a source of unique accommodation for students of Durham University) is a popular attraction for visitors from far and wide—with subterranean chapels, historic artefacts and medieval military construction, it’s a truly fascinating environment. 

Durham Cathedral is similarly popular, having been the location and source of props for scenes in two Harry Potter films. Beyond that, however, it’s a breath-taking piece of medieval architecture and an oasis of calm. 

Riverside walks and strolls through the historic centre of the city are common pastimes for Durham students, and you’ll be able to find a whole host of cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants and interesting shops on any day of the week. Hidden cafes are waiting to be discovered down the ‘vennels’, the narrow alleyways that criss-cross the old town, and there’s even an indoor market with dozens of independent traders, offering all sorts of interesting items to treasure hunters. 

Located in the north-eastern reaches of England, Durham is just a short journey away from the bustling, cultural hub that is Newcastle—as well as being less than half an hour’s drive from the east coast. Durham is surrounded by exceptional natural landscapes on every side; the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks provide an endless array of outdoor activities to get stuck into. 

Next: Search for postgraduate universities


Receive regular newsletters packed with useful tips.


Don't miss out

Receive regular newsletters packed with useful tips.