Welcome to the Durham Union Society

For those about to begin their journey at Durham University, many congratulations on your recent results, and a very warm welcome to the Durham Union Society. To all our returners, I hope you had an enjoyable summer break, and we look forward to welcoming you back.

The Durham Union Society is the University’s largest and oldest student society, founded in 1842. Like the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, the Durham Union was founded to inspire the next generation of students, by providing them with opportunities to listen to (and meet) leading figures from public life, either through debates on the pressing matters of the day, or through celebrity addresses. Our purpose remains the same to this day. The Durham Union Society attracts expert speakers from every conceivable field: from scientists to actors, journalists to sportspeople, and politicians to musicians. It is through this tradition that the Durham Union has earned its place as the North of England’s premier debating institution. Indeed, alumni of the Durham Union range from Jeremy Vine to General Lord Dannatt, and from Mo Mowlam to Sir Edward Leigh.

This coming Michaelmas Term we have a great line-up of debates and addresses for you. Debate topics range from whether the UN is a failing organisation to whether we should sacrifice more privacy for national security. If you aren’t a member of the Union or are thinking of joining, why not come along to our first debate of term, on the motion ‘This House Believes Liberalism is in Retreat’ – it is open to all students, free of charge, on Friday 13th October at 8:30pm in our Debating Chamber on Palace Green. Our first address of term (held in the same place at the same time but on Monday 9th October) by BBC election polling expert, Professor John Curtice, is also open to non-members. Our addresses this term are set to be delivered by an incredibly diverse mix of speakers, including diplomats, politicians, leading military figures and economists.

However, the Union is far more than just a forum for debate - it is also an important social hub. With over 3000 student members, attending Durham Union events as a Fresher is a great way to meet like-minded people and make friends with those from different colleges and courses. Indeed, the Union has its own bar, situated within our 24 North Bailey Club. Commonly known as ‘24s’, the bar is popular with our members, and holds the Union’s well-known social events. This term we will dedicate one of our socials to celebrating 175 years since the founding of the Union, as well as our annual Christmas social, and there will be regular weekend events being run in the 24s bar. Of course, our flagship social event, the Michaelmas Ball, will be held on Wednesday, 8th November, and this year with a Masquerade theme. Tickets sell our rapidly, so make sure you buy yours today! It’ll be a great evening of fine food and drink, live music and high-quality entertainment – an occasion not to be missed.

For those considering buying membership of the Union, think about becoming a member as an investment - and one of the best value investments you will make in your time at University. In return for your investment, you will have the opportunity to meet hundreds of the most influential men and women in global public life, free social opportunities, full access to the Union’s 24 North Bailey Club, including opportunities to live and work there, and the opportunity to learn the art of debating as a novice or hone your skills with our world class debating squad. You can of course become involved in the running of the society through committees and officer positions, which is great for your CV, and a highly rewarding way to use your free time as a student. There is no other society in Durham that matches the Union in its size, volume of speakers, and general regularity of events. It is fair to say that it is hard to gain the true Durham experience without membership of the Union

I very much hope to see you at the Union this Michaelmas.

President Daniel Cohen

Daniel Cohen
President, Michaelmas Term 2017




Click here to view this term's events


Upcoming Events

Wednesday 8th November:

The Durham Union Masquerade Ball
Beamish Hall, County Durham

Ball Photo


With our annual Michaelmas Ball only two days away, an evening of drinks, entertainment and live music awaits. For more information about the event or collecting your tickets, see below:

Dress code: Black tie plus a Masquerade mask (don't worry, it isn't compulsory!)

Timings: At 7 p.m. on the night of the Ball, all guests will meet outside Dunelm House, where coaches will be waiting to take you to Beamish Hall. Coaches will also be waiting to take you back to Durham from the venue at regular intervals later in the evening.

How to pick up tickets: For current students, you can visit the Durham Union office (situated on the first floor of the Pemberton Building on Palace Green) and collect the ticket in person during office hours this week. Seating preferences can also be noted down too, so get planning!

We look forward to seeing members and non-members alike on Wednesday!

Friday, 10th November 2017:

Debate: This House Has No Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 8.30 p.m.


Lord Menzies Campbell – former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, 2006-2007. Currently also the Chancellor of St. Andrews University

Paul Brannen MEP – Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East Region of England

Dave Nellist – National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, TUSC


Andrew Boff – Former Leader of the Conservative Party in the London Assembly, 2012-2016. Boff was the runner-up in the 2008 Conservative Party primary election to select a London Mayoral candidate

Gareth Bacon – Current Leader of the Conservative Party in the London Assembly, previously serving their Environment and Budget Spokesperson

Shailesh Vara MP – Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire and former Government Minister at the Justice and Work and Pensions Departments


Please note: Any Union member is entitled to attend the three-course black tie dinner with the above speakers, prior to this week’s debate. Tickets are available for purchase at the Union Society Office on Palace Green.

General Committee By-elections
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 10.30 p.m.

Nominations are now open for by-elections to four General Committee positions, these will be held after the debate this Friday (10/11/17). Nominations will close at 10pm on Friday, just before the elections. The following positions will be elected: -

House Committee (1 position)

Social Committee (1 position)

Ustinov College Secretary

Stephenson College Secretary

To nominate yourself please fill out the Google form below or alternatively complete a paper nomination and post it in the ballot box outside the Union office:


A reminder that all Union members are entitled to stand and vote in these elections, so please do stay behind after the debate. Please prepare a two minute hust to deliver in the event of a contested election. Proxy votes are not allowed, if you wish to cast a ballot please make sure you attend in person.

Any questions please do get in touch at returningofficer@dus.org.uk.

The Masquerade Ball, Wednesday 8th November:


Set in the beautiful Beamish Hall, our Michaelmas Ball is one of Durham's go-to events and this year sports a Masquerade theme. With a drinks reception, live band, three-course dinner, wine, casino tables and other entertainment besides, it is always sold-out event. Tickets are now available for collection from our Office on Palace Green, so don't delay!

For more information, visit the Facebook event page:


The Durham Union's 175th Birthday Social, Tuesday 21st November:

Socials 5

The Durham Union turns 175 this year, so what better excuse for another elaborate social...

Christmas Social, Wednesday 6th December:


Our Christmas Social is well known for its mince pies and freshly made mulled wine, all free for Union members. Forget about those incoming deadlines and join us for a great evening!

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