Derwent College, York

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Coordinates: 53°56′49″N 1°02′53″W / 53.94684°N 1.04792°W / 53.94684; -1.04792

Derwent College
Heslington Hall and Derwent College - - 177846.jpg
View across the University Lake towards Derwent College and Heslington Hall
University University of York
Location Heslington West, York
Established 1965
Named for River Derwent[1]
Provost Dr. Eleanor Brown[2]
Administrator Chris Unwin
Dean Jenny Underhill
Undergraduates 543 (resident)
Derwent College Shield.png
Website Derwent College
JCR Derwent JCRC

Derwent College is a college of the University of York, and alongside Langwith College was one of the first two colleges to be opened following the university's inception. It is named after the local River Derwent.[1]

The college itself is on the fringe of the campus, lying next to Heslington Hall, and close to the gazebo and gardens known collectively as The Quiet Place.


Derwent, alongside Langwith College is one of the founding colleges at the University of York. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 22 October 1965.

Following Langwith's move to the Heslington East campus in 2012 Derwent has taken its former buildings.

Buildings and Services[edit]

Derwent College has twelve accommodation blocks, named A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, M and P. Blocks A, B, C, D, J, K, M and P are standard university accommodation; they were built in the CLASP system, invented by Andrew Derbyshire, consisting of prefabricated concrete blocks and panels.

Block A is part of the main college nucleus, being the north-west and north-east sides of a small quadrangle, with the administrative offices and JCR on the south-east. B Block is situated nearer Heslington Hall overlooking the University Lake. C and D Blocks are also located near Heslington Hall and also form a single separate building in most important respects. A concrete slab forming part of a covered walkway is the only actual connection between C block and the kitchen portion of the main college building.

The original college only had A, B, and C blocks. Block D was added a few years later on a different floor plan with comparatively small individual rooms, but a large central kitchen and eating area. The older blocks had little communal space but somewhat larger rooms. Derwent College inherited the "Old Langwith" Blocks in 2012, when a new Langwith College was built on the Heslington East campus; blocks J, K, M and P are now part of the enlarged college.

There were also a small group of rooms known as "N Block" (N standing for nucleus) which were situated above the main kitchen. Originally these were used for guest accommodation, however they have since been converted to offices.

Derwent's E and F Blocks

E, F, G and H Blocks are situated across the other side of University Road from the rest of the college, adjacent to Heslington Church field. They are more recently brick-build accommodation and some of these rooms offer en-suite bathroom facilities.

Further to the main blocks, Derwent students are also accommodated in Eden's Court which is situated on Heslington Lane. Eden's court comprises eight houses, each of nine or ten rooms with similar layout to those of Halifax College. There are also two cottages, Eden's Cottage and Sycamore Cottage. Eden's Court is jocularly referred to by the other blocks of Derwent as 'Shutter Island', due to its isolation in being situated nearer to Halifax College than the Derwent nucleus.

Facilities in Derwent include Computer Services classrooms and computer rooms, and the Derwent bar and dining room. During the day there is a main dining room, a snack bar and a drinks bar.

Derwent College is home to the University's Politics, Education, English & Related Literature, School of PEP and PRDU departments .

Head of College[edit]

The Head of College is a university academic who shares teaching duties with college responsibilities. The Head of College is supported by the Assistant Head of College, the College Administrator and the College Tutors.[3] The current Head of College is Dr Eleanor Brown.[2]

List of College Provosts/Heads of College:[1]

  • Professor Harry Rée (1965-1974)
  • Dr. Michael Green (1974-1980)
  • Dr. Ron Weir (1980-2009)
  • Dr. Rob Aitken (2009-2014)
  • Dr. Eleanor Brown (2014-present)

Student life[edit]

Student representation[edit]

All undergraduate students of Derwent College are members of the Junior Common room, and continue to remain members throughout their time at the university. The Junior Common Room Committee is responsible for representing the interests of Derwent students, organising events, and welfare provision. The Committee is elected annually from the undergraduate population, and consists of around 40 members.

All postgraduate students of Derwent College are members of the Graduate Common room, and continue to remain members throughout their time at the university. The Graduate Common Room Committee is responsible for representing the interests of Derwent students, organising events, and welfare provision. The Committee is elected annually from the postgraduate population.


Club D, a student disco on campus is organised through the Junior Common room. This is held periodically at weekends during term time in the Derwent bar and dining room. The College also holds the annual Big-D (formerly known as Derwent BBQ) the biggest event on campus except from the events in Alcuin. It is an end of year event along the lines of Club D, but on a larger scale. Taking up the whole area in and around the college, it is normally held on the final Thursday of the Summer term and has several rooms of music, bars and food, and open air activities.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

Famous past members of the College include Greg Dyke (politics alumnus and now University Chancellor),[4] Jung Chang and Harry Enfield.


  1. ^ a b c "History of the College". Derwent College. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Provost's Welcome". University of York. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The University of York Vice Chancellor's Office". University of York. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 

External links[edit]