Welcome to the Durham Union Society

A warm welcome to Durham for both new and returning students alike. For freshers, this term will represent the opening of a new chapter in your lives. I remember well the mix of emotions that accompany your first few weeks at university. Just remember that everyone is in the same boat and there are far more daunting cities than Durham!

Many freshers coming to Durham for the first time will have heard of the Union, others will have not. Whatever your subject and whatever your interests we are your indispensable accompaniment to Durham life.

Unique to Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, the Union Society fulfils several different functions. First and foremost we provide students with the opportunity to meet, listen to and engage with a diverse range of public figures. In the past we have hosted speakers from sportsman Jonathan Edwards to scientist Robert Winston to actress Imelda Staunton.

We also host debates every Friday night, with celebrity speakers coming up to Durham to debate the pressing issues of the day. In addition we represent the university in competitive student debating and provide the chance for students to hone their skills in the art of debating and public speaking in our weekly debate training sessions.

Finally we provide an important university wide social environment, independent of the colleges. We have our very own bar and clubhouse 24 North Bailey, conveniently located next to the cathedral in the centre of Durham. We host regular balls and socials, widely regarded as amongst the best in Durham.

With so much on offer, why not sign up for membership today? Over 800 freshers each year choose to do so, making us by far the largest student society in Durham. Membership entitles you to partake in as much or as little of the the above as you choose and is a sound investment in your three year university career. In addition we have reciprocal relations with both the Oxford and Cambridge Union and our members enjoy full access to their exciting itinerary of events.

As for this term, it is shaping up to being one of the best of recent times. Our atmospheric debating chamber on Palace Green will be graced by such notaries as Jeremy Vine, Caroline Lucas and Peter Hitchens. We have no less than four foreign ambassadors coming to visit us this term and ten current or former MPs and peers. For the scientists amongst you, a former Astronomer Royal and for the lawyers a justice of the Supreme Court. It all kicks off on Monday 10th October, with our first debate of the year: 'This House believes that the nation state is an outdated concept.' A timely motion in light of recent events. The first debate is open to all, so if you are unsure, come and see what we do before you buy membership.

That is all before I mention socials. Our blue ribbon event of the year, the Michaelmas Ball, is coming up on the 2nd of November, a three course meal and live entertainment, all in the beautiful surroundings of Beamish Hall. To get involved in the Union social life come and join us in 24s for the Freshers' social right at the start of term.  Later on will come the Halloween, US Election Night and Christmas socials all of which are not to miss - being completely free for members.

For more information before you arrive in Durham, please explore the pages of this website which also includes an online portal for purchasing membership. Otherwise do look out for our freshers pack (including a sign up form) which should arrive in the post during the last week of September. Also look out for our stand at the freshers fair, where you will be able to collect membership cards and pick up a term card, with full details of upcoming events. If you haven't already, like us on Facebook to keep up to date with upcoming events.

Once again, I look forward to welcoming you (back) to Durham. The Union has an office next to the debating chamber, upstairs in the Pemberton Building, next to the café on Palace Green. Myself or our office manager, Sharon, are usually there from 9-5 on weekdays. Any queries, please do not hesitate to come in and have a chat.



Click here to view this term's events.


Upcoming Events

This Week at the Union.

Wednesday 19th October: Address by Sir Arnold Wolfendale
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 20:30
Sir Arnold Wolfendale served as Astronomer Royal from 1991-1995. He is renowned for his pioneering research in the field of cosmic radiation.
Sir Arnold will deliver an address entitled ‘From Working in the deep mines of India to becoming Astronomer Royal – a Durham Don’s story’
Members are entitled to attend the dinner with Sir Arnold beforehand, please enquire in the office.

Thursday 20th October: Address by Ryan Bourne
The Chamber, Palace Green, 20:30
Ryan Bourne is the Director of Public Policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, described as arguably most influential think tank in British history. The IEA can boast 12 Nobel Laureates among the economists engaged in its work.
Ryan will deliver an address entitled 'Making an economic success of Brexit'.
Members are entitled to attend the dinner with Ryan beforehand, please enquire in the office.

Friday 21st October: Friday Night Debate
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 20:30
‘This House would allow the establishment of new grammar schools.’
William Wragg MP: Conservative MP, former teacher and member of the Education Select Committee.
Paul Buckland: Headmaster of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith. The only grammar in the North East and Cumbria. 
Lord (Kenneth) Baker: Education Secretary under Margaret Thatcher 1986-1989. Home Secretary under John Major 1990-1992. 
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP: Labour MP for the City of Durham since 2005. Former Shadow Housing Minister and former member of the Education and Skills Select Committee.
Members are entitled to attend the dinner with our guests beforehand, please enquire in the office.

Saturday 22nd October: An Evening with Jeremy Vine
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 20:30
Jeremy Vine is one of the most recognisable faces on television. He hosts a daily show on BBC Radio 2, the current affairs programme Panorama, and long running quiz show Eggheads. In 2015, Jeremy was a contestant on the 13th Series of Strictly Come Dancing. Jeremy is a Durham Union alumnus.
Members are entitled to attend the dinner with Jeremy beforehand, please enquire in the office.

Annual Michaelmas Ball

Our annual black tie Michaelmas Ball will commence on the 2nd November at Beamish Hall, and it is set to be bigger than ever.

Transport to and from Beamish Hall is provided by the Union and included in the price of your ticket.

Attendees will be greeted with a champagne reception, followed by a three course meal with wine and plenty of entertainment. There will be casino tables, a live band, a giant chocolate fountain, a professional photographer, and plenty more.

Tickets are £58.50 for members, and £70 for non-members, and can be purchased from the Union office.home1

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