Overall ranking: 5th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide this year.
History: Durham was founded in 1832, and developed in Durham and Newcastle until 1963, when the Independent University of Newcastle upon Tyne came into being. The University's Queen's Campus opened in 1992.
Address: Mostly in the centre of the medieval city bar Queen's Campus in Stockton, 23 miles south.
Ambience: Flanked by cobbled streets and dominated by the Norman cathedral, the older parts of the university are steeped in charming history.
Who's the boss? The current Acting Vice Chancellor is Professor Ray Hudson, however in September 2015 Professor Stuart Corbridge will take on the role.
Prospectus: 0191 334 6128 or request one here.
UCAS code: D86
What you need to know
Easy to get into? Not really. It is very competitive, particularly in popular subjects such as law, English and history. The university takes previous extra curricular activity into account. See here for more details.
Vital statistics: England's third oldest university has a strong collegiate system. With its academic reputation, venerable traditions and college set-up, it attracts top-notch applicants. Two-thirds of the over 12,000 students come from the state sector and one-third from private schools. Social life (although not teaching) revolves around colleges which are all co-ed. Most students live out of college for at least a year. Durham is one of 24 Russell Group universities, dedicated to the highest levels of academic excellence.
Added value: The new Palatine Centre officially opened in October 2012 as part of a wider £100m investment in facilities that included an expansion of the recently renamed Bill Bryson Library (in honour of their last chancellor). The Graham Sports Centre has also benefited from an injection of funds and boasts one of only three indoor powered rowing tanks in the UK. During 2014, the Department of History building, part of Elvet Riverside and the Bill Bryson Library are undergoing a major refurbishment. Big rowing events include the annual boat race against Newcastle University on the River Tyne and the age-old Durham Regatta. Comprehensive welfare provision includes student representatives and a personal tutor system in colleges.
Teaching: Ranked 15th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide for 2016.
Graduate prospects: Place 16th with 79.5 per cent entering graduate employment.
Any accommodation? Yes- the 15 undergraduate colleges offer accommodation for first year students, with some providing rooms for second and third years too. The cost varies depending on whether you opt for accommodation on the basis of self catering, part or fully catered lets. Some students at University College live in the castle for their first year- the Great Hall of which was used as a film set for Harry Potter.
Cheap to live there? The cost of private rented accommodation varies according to its location. Prices range from £45 per week a to £100+ per week.
Transport links: Good road and rail links on the East Coast line and A1. Half an hour from two regional airports. No need for a car: it's too small and there's extremely limited parking. The furthest you are likely to walk is 25 minutes and even that's unusual.
Fees: £9,000 per year for home and EU undergrads in 2015.
Bursaries: There are a variety of scholarships and bursaries available for students from low income households. See the website for more details.
The fun stuff
Nightlife: Don't go expecting the nightlife of nearby Newcastle- Durham is a small city. Students' Union leaves much to be desired, as does the live music scene, but the college bars are fun and fairly-priced. Klute- famous for once being ranked the worst nightclub in Europe- is the temple of cheese, while Studio provides a more contemporary clubbing experience. The two colleges at Stockton have shared dining, bar and social facilities.
Price of a pint: You're looking at about £2.40, but head to Jimmy Allens for £2 triple vodkas to start a great night out. The college bars have very competitively priced drinks- try the 'Brownie Bomber' at St Cuthbert's Society at your peril.
Sporting reputation: Excellent- ranked 2nd in the BUCS league. College sport is also hugely popular and caters to all levels.
Calendar highlights: College Days take place throughout the year, with most occurring after the exam period- these are often themed and sometimes involve a formal dinner in the evening. Balls are another college staple and range from informal fancy-dress to black tie. Jam By The Lake at Van Mildert is a free music festival held annually on the college lawn.
Notable societies: Argentine Tango and Pokémon (yes, really) are new for this year while the Caledonian Society's ball is widely renowned as the perfect opportunity to showcase your newly-learnt ceilidh moves.
Glittering alumni: Mo Mowlam former secretary of state for Northern Ireland; Will Carling, Phil de Glanville and Will Greenwood, England rugby players; Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss and James Foster, England cricketers; Harold Evans, former newspaper editor; Gabby Logan, sports presenter.
Alternative prospectus: Asks questions galore to current and prospective students on The Student Room's Durham forum here.