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

Hitchens PhotoMonday, 16th October 2017:

Address: An Evening with Peter Hitchens
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 8.30 p.m.

For our first event of the week, we will be joined by Peter Hitchens, legendary Mail on Sunday columnist, documentary producer and the winner of the Orwell Prize in 2010.

As 2017 marks 100 years since the Russian Revolution, Mr. Hitchens will be delivering an address entitled 'Russia is not the aggressor but the target of aggression', a matter close to his own heart. The address will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

All those who ask questions will be invited back to the Reading Room of 24 North Bailey Club after the address, where complimentary drinks will be served with Mr. Hitchens.


Please note: Any Union member is entitled to attend the three-course black tie dinner with Peter Hitchens, prior to his address. Tickets are available for purchase at the Union Society Office on Palace Green.

Wednesday, 18th October 2017:

Address: An Evening with Revd. Prof. David Wilkinson
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 8.30 p.m.

Revd Prof WilkinsonOur second address on the week will be from the Revd. Professor David Wilkinson on 'Science, Religion and the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence.

Revd. Prof. Wilkinson is the Principal of St John's College, Durham University, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day. A highly respected writer, Wilkinson is also a world-renowned Theologian, Astrophysicist and Methodist Minister. His address follows on from one of his most recent books.

All those who ask questions will be invited back to the Reading Room of 24 North Bailey Club after the address, where complimentary drinks will be served with the Revd. Prof. Wilkinson.


Please note: As with our first address of the week, all Union members are entitled to attend the three-course black tie dinner with Revd. Prof. Wilkinson, prior to his address. Tickets are available for purchase at the Union Society Office on Palace Green.

Friday, 20th October 2017:

Debate: This House Believes the UN is a Failing Organisation
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 8.30 p.m.


Ewan Lawson – Senior Research Fellow for Military Influence at the Royal United Services Institute

Tom Wilson – Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society, working within the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism, and the Centre for the New Middle East

Ben Harris-Quinney – Chairman of the Bow Group and former foreign policy advisor to multiple governments

Tom Harwood – President of the Durham Union, Epiphany Term 2017, former National Chair of the student wing of 'Vote Leave', and a candidate in the National Union of Students’ 2017 Presidential Election


Sir Richard Dalton – Former British Ambassador to Libya and Iran. Currently an Associate Fellow at Chatham House

Chris Mullin – Former MP for Sunderland South and Foreign Office Minister

Patrick Grady MP – SNP MP for Glasgow North, and SNP Spokesperson for International Development

Lord Wood of Anfield – Chair of the United Nations Association UK, a special adviser in 10 Downing Street between 2007 and 2010, and adviser to Ed Miliband during his time as Labour Leader


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.

Elections: Get involved – join a Committee! 
The Chamber, Palace Green, from 10.30 p.m.

16602637_1235808846488697_8281860025047406012_nAfter this Friday’s debate, further hustings will take place for the Michaelmas Term General Committee, with the following Committees up for election:

Social Committee: Every time you have enjoyed a great social at the DUS, it has been the result of Social Committee's work. This committee helps the Social Secretary organise and run the Society's socials throughout the term.

There are five positions on Social committee to be elected and they last for one term.

Sponsorship Committee: The DUS has a fantastic record of attracting record levels of sponsorship for its events. This committee works with the Sponsorship officers to contact and attract sponsorship from companies around the world and locally.

There are five positions on Sponsorship committee to be elected and they last for one term.

All members can vote, as well as stand, in the hustings so please do stay behind after the debate has finished. To run for a position, follow these instructions:

1). Submit a nomination – either: a). Fill in a Committee Nomination Form, found outside our office on Palace Green on top of the ballot box, and post it into the box OR b). email returningofficer@dus.org.uk with your nomination OR c). fill out the following form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1lC8zx7DHgoz_Jj2y4OVZTUQUxHhfTmlqgEhNMGRT4Hg/viewform?edit_requested=true

2). Elections and husting: Once you have submitted a nomination, you will need to attend the hustings event after the debate this Friday in the Chamber on Palace Green. If there are more nominations for a position than there are places, candidates will be required to hust for the position. Husts should be short speeches containing your motivation for running for the position and any relevant experience. If there are fewer or the same number of nominations as there are positions available, you should be automatically elected to the committee.

3). Voting and results: After all the hustings for collections are completed, all members present will be allowed to vote and the Rules Committee will then begin the count. The results of all the elections will be announced that evening and successful candidates will be notified by email.

Please note:

1). You can apply for as many or as few committees as you like. You can also withdraw from elections up to the time of the election.

2). Every member of the Durham Union Society is entitled to run and vote in elections. Proxy votes are not accepted for committee elections.

3). For more information, join the Facebook event here.

If you have any other questions please email returningofficer@dus.org.ukor come by our office on Palace Green and somebody will be able to help you there.

Best of luck to all candidates!

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 assured to be a sold-out event. Tickets are now ON SALE 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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