Find out what life is really like at Durham University

InternationalStudent experience

An International Student Perspective on Choosing a University

It’s already past the middle of the first year of my degree at Durham, and to think to only one year ago, around this time, I was puzzling over my UCAS choices over which universities to put as my firm and insurance choices. Like many other international students, I did not have a great deal of flexibility in my timetable to extensively research into each one of my choices by coming to the UK. For some, choosing a firm and insurance choice may be a matter of ease, but for others, it seems difficult to choose a firm and insurance choice when you haven’t even been to the universities in question before! Some international students may have the means to travel to the UK and see the universities in person, but most can only rely on information that is provided on the internet!


Firstly, consider the nature of the course you will be taking up if you choose a university to be your firm/insurance choice. I know it may be silly to say this, but it is surprising how little effort some students put into reading over the course structure/curriculum and instead choose the University with the highest league table ranking! Some universities may offer a very rigid module structure, with no room for flexibility. For your first year at Durham, you take six modules. Normally, five of these modules are compulsory modules run by your degree department, which are generally very interesting and cover many different areas. For the sixth module, you can choose one optional module which can be from another department! So, for example, I am studying Psychology and must take 5 Psychology modules, but for the sixth module, I am studying Statistics which is run by the Mathematical Sciences department. You can also take a language module, or whatever best suits you! This level of flexibility also makes your first year at Durham more enjoyable!  See the courses available at Durham here 

 Durham Castle


Secondly, try to consider the relative location and cost of the university. Universities located in urban areas, such as London, may be quite attractive to some in terms of their proximity to many attractions and shops, but if you are used to quiet countryside living you may also quite dislike the noisy urban environment that some universities are located. Location and living standards are sometimes understated when trying to select a university. It is always good to live and study in a place that you like best, as you’ll be more productive in a good environment. Not only is Durham a very pleasant quiet place to live in. The cost of a degree course and things like accommodation, food, etc. at Durham is generally much lower when compared to universities nearer the south of the UK.

Finally, just remember that whatever university you choose, make sure it’s a choice you won’t regret. After all, you’ll be studying there for a good 3 or 4 years, a good university coupled with a fantastic course structure and living environment will easily make these years of your life the most productive and enjoyable!

More information

View our International Student Prospectus here.

View the film below to hear how another international student Soumya Singh finds life at Durham University, you can read more of Soumya’s blogs here  

Alan Chi

Hi, I'm Alan, studying Psychology at Durham. I'm from Hong Kong! I'm an avid practitioner of Chinese martial arts.

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