Durham vs Duke: Who is the best Durham-based uni?

They pronounce it ‘Durrrr-ham’

| UPDATED noad

Across the pond, in a land far away, the Durham bubble has a sister filled with another bloody good university. 

Durham, North Carolina, in the south of the USA, is home to the mighty Duke University, while County Durham squeezes the real Durham Uni into its ancient buildings.

The Harvard of the South, Duke holds a reputable standing among both national and worldwide league tables, not unlike our own Durham.

But the question on everyone’s minds: Who comes out on top? Durham NC or Durham NE.

Academic Reputation


Durham regularly comes in the top 10 British universities behind only the swots at Cambridge, Oxford, LSE and Imperial College London.

The social slum of Durham

In the 2016 Complete University Guide, 90% of Durham’s subjects were placed in the Top Ten. Chemistry, English, History, Theology, Engineering, Music and Archaeology reached the giddy heights of the top five.


Duke is also a top 10 University, with it being ranked #8 this year in the US.

Its top five majors at the moment are: Economics, Public Policy Studies, Biology, Psychology and Biomedical Engineering.

However in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings for 2015, Duke topped Durham, being ranked 34th in the 1-50 category as opposed to Durham’s 81-90. (However we would like to stress the reputation league table is based on nothing more than subjective judgement)

Due to this, the winner of the best reputation should probably be Duke.

Winner: Duke



Durham University’s origins can be traced back to 1072, when the building of Durham Castle began. This is now the oldest university building in the world.

In 1541 Henry VIII proposed founding a Northern university in Durham, but it wasn’t until 1832 the University of Durham was established by an Act of Parliament, gaining royal assent on 4 July. In the same year University College was founded.


Duke University began as “Trinity College” which opened in Durham, North Carolina in 1892 largely because of the generosity of Washington Duke and Julian S. Carr, influential, wealthy and respected Methodists.

Striking resemblance

Thanks to support from the Dukes, Trinity College developed into one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the South. In December 1924, a university was built around Trinity College, and was renamed as Duke University as a memorial to the Duke family.

In 1938, Duke University became the thirty-fourth member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Its religious roots can be seen in its motto “Eruditio et Religio”, or “Knowledge and Religion”.

Sorry Duke, but our Castle is older than your country.

 Winner: Durham



For such a prestigious university, Durham is relatively lacking in famous alumni. However, those worth mentioning include Gabby Logan, Shelagh Fogerty, radio and television presenter and journalist, as well as former England cricket captain and current director of England cricket Andrew Strauss and former England rugby union captain Will Carling.


Duke University has countless alumni in fields of Government, Law, Journalism, Media, Business, Entertainment and sports.

The most notable of these being Mike Posner, (remember ‘Cooler than Me’?), CEO of Apple Tim Cook, actor Ken Jeong – yes, Mr Chow from The Hangover went there, and last but not least, a famous Duke grad is none other than former President of the United States of America, Richard Nixon


Unfortunately Durham hasn’t produced any alumni quite equal to the leader of the Western World, or anyone with the badass reputation of Leslie Chow.

Winner: Duke



Here at Durham we have a wide range of evening social events. From house parties, to college bar crawls, to fancy dress themed sports socials, Durham students have their pick of things to do on a night out.

Many of these usually end up in a favourite nightspot in town. Whether it’s Wiff Waff on a Monday, Lloyds or Loveshack on a Wednesday or Jimmy As, Fabios, or Klute (you know Klute), Durham students have a lot to choose from.


Similarly, Duke students also have a variety of options for a night out. Parties revolve around the Greek and Selective Living Group (SLG) Life which is the accommodation system used in the US.

Most of the parties will be “mixers” between fraternities (all boy accommodation) and sororities (all girl living accommodation) and these consist of sorority crush parties, frat parties, and SLG parties (mixed or co-ed living accommodation). Duke allegedly has a pretty heavy drinking culture – which can’t be true as the drinking age is 21 and none of them would break the law, would they?

Duke students are also fancy dress fans

Durham students aren’t the only ones with their social traditions. Whereas a “Lloydshack” Wednesday is a weekly staple in Durham, it is the routine of Duke students to hit their local dance club/bar called Shooters II on a Wednesday.

Duke’s answer to Lloyds/Loveshack?

On a Thursday at Duke, it is common to go to a smaller  bar/club called Devines.

Is it me or does it look like a diner?

Apologies Duke, but not only are the majority of our students actually of drinking age when they come to university, but we also have the worst nightclub on our continent.

Winner: Durham

Special events


Durham students love any opportunity to make the most out of a special occasion. Our love for formals is university wide, and as well as these, special events include college and university fashion shows, a single day each year dedicated to celebrating each individual college and many annual dinners.

We also have countless balls, of which University College’s infamous June ball regularly features in Mastercard’s list of “top events money can’t buy”.


Duke students have their own special events. They recently celebrated “LDOC”, which is their last day of classes, where the university throws a big concert for the students, as well as many other activities, such as a silent disco/dance party.


It seems formal dinners are common in both Durhams, with Duke students also partial to donning their suit and tie for a special event.

Concerning other parties, there is the occasional “darty” at the weekend. A Darty is basically a “day-party” and is a normal party starting at noon.

Winner: Durham



Durham excels at a wide range of sports. Not only were we named the Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2015, we have also been voted as having Britain’s Second Most Successful Performance Programme and have ranked second, behind only Loughborough in BUCS (British University and College Sport for our American friends) for 3 consecutive seasons.

Going in to next season, we will be in 26 of 31 Premier Leagues. We are British University champions of several sports, such as rowing, Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse and also Water Polo. In addition to competing within the BUCS leagues, many of our teams compete in National league programmes. These include: Basketball, Men & Women’s Hockey, Women’s Football and Men & Women’s Volleyball.


Duke is a Division 1 athletics school in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is a very competitive conference.  Duke has won many national championships, six in women’s golf, three in men’s lacrosse, five in men’s basketball, and a lot more.

Nothing on Maiden Castle

Basketball is the biggest sport at Duke – people basically worship it. There is a big rivalry between Duke Men’s’ basketball and UNC Men’s basketball, which is probably not unlike our very own rivalry with Loughborough. As a result of this rivalry, students will spend up to eight weeks sleeping in tents outside the stadium to go to the men’s basketball game. The area in which they sleep is called Krzyzewskiville or “K-ville” and is named after the men’s basketball coach.

There are different rules for K-ville, including different levels of tenting. Duke basketball fans are called Cameron crazies and they paint themselves blue.

Cameron Crazies

Duke’s men’s basketball team are national champions, and their final featured on a worldwide snapchat story.

Why hasn’t Maiden Castle featured on Snapchat yet?

Winner: Duke