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Durham University Summer Institute


The Fulbright Commission Durham University Summer Institute is a four-week cultural and academic programme for US students held at Durham University in the UK.

The theme of the institute is The Northern Borders of Empire to the Making of the Middle Ages.2015 Fulbrighters listen during a course at Durham University

Participants in this summer school will get the opportunity to:

• participate in a suite of projects focused on sites along the northern edges of the old Roman frontier in Britain playing a full part in excavations and standing building recording, gaining first-hand knowledge and experience of UK archaeological professional practice.  

• receive on-site seminars and workshops with expert visitors exploring matters of cutting edge concern in archaeology and cultural history.  

• have a full understanding of the archaeology of the transformation of the military frontier of Roman Britain including Hadrian’s Wall in the early medieval and medieval eras and wider appreciation of the archaeology and history of Northern England.   

be led by Durham’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies in classes to investigate medieval theory complimented by afternoon trips to examine practical examples of Medieval and early modern thought, design, architecture, and culture. 

explore the culture, heritage and history of the UK on a variety of cultural and social outings 

make friends and experience life as a real student in the UK

become an ambassador for studying in the United Kingdom, and for the prestigious internationally renowned Durham University

•develop their academic knowledge, be taught by world leaders in their field and receive credit they can transfer to their US University.  Courses are woth 20 Durham credits which usually equates to 5 US credits. 


Durham CathedralThe Institute will run from: 3-30 July 2016.

Introduction to Aucklandshire

Since 2009, an international team drawn principally from Durham University (UK) and Stanford University (US) has been excavating the Roman fort and town at Binchester and surveying its place in one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world. Binchester sits within the estate of Auckland Palace, a seat of the medieval Prince Bishops that ruled Durham in the 12th century. The palace is largely medieval in date, with two great halls and a surviving curtain wall. The Summer Institute students will engage with a number of projects linked to the Binchester excavations which are exploring the Roman to Medieval transformation of this frontier region.

Previous excavation of Binchester has uncovered the best-preserved Roman bathhouse in the UK and some of the most impressive mausolea seen on a Roman site for 150 years. Geophysical survey has revealed a large town that continued to thrive long after the empire fell. Across the river at Escomb is one of the oldest churches in Britain, built from the stones of Binchester in the 7th century, is still standing as a reminder of the kingdom of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, the heartland of Celtic Christianity and land of Arthurian romance. An all lie within the shadow of the great Medieval Palace of Auckland, a testament to the power of Norman overlordship in the North after AD1100.


Through excavation at Auckland palace and standing building recording at Escomb Church along with lab-based analyses focused on the Binchester Roman finds all joined with a broader site and regional survey, the project aims to investigate the character and diversity of the local population, to explore connections between fort, church, palace and town, and to pursue questions concerning the way the border was conceived and worked from Roman to medieval times. The project also looks at the way in which archaeology may contribute to senses of identity and belonging in a region such as the English/Scottish borders.

For more information on the progress of the Binchester excavation take a look at the team’s blog.

Durham's Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) will guide students from the Roman Empire through Saxons, Vikings, and the supreme Kingdom of Northumbria and onto the Medieval Northeast.  The IMEMS provides a forum and network for the exchange of information with a full schedule of lectures and events in place throughout the year.  It is expected that Fulbrighters will engage with the planned lecture programmes during their time with the Institute contributing toward the development of public debate in this field.  

For more information on the Institute see the Programme Outline under the Additional Information tab.


The majority of the participant costs will be covered. This includes:Durham residence living

•    round-trip airfare from the US to the UK;
•    tuition and fees at Durham University;
•    accommodation and social programme;
•    subsistence e.g. food and drink

Participants are expected to pay for their own private travel, health and accident insurance. 

Summer School students will stay in one of the University’s sixteen colleges, St. John's College.  Founded in 1909, St. John's College is set in a series of beautiful listed buildings in Durham's historic heart, with stunning views of the Norman Cathedral and River Wear.  

Selection Criteria

To meet the minimum eligibility for this Institute you need to:

•    be a US citizen (resident anywhere except the UK) and possess a US passport;
•    be at least 18 years old by the start of the programme;
•    be able to participate in the programme in its entirety;
•    have a high level of academic achievement with a minimum GPA of 3.7 (confirmed by academic marks, awards and references);
•    have at least two years of undergraduate study left to complete, i.e. applicants should currently be a Freshman or Sophomore in college/university;
•    be mature, responsible, independent, and open-minded;
•    be willing and able to fully participate in an academically intensive programme that includes attending all sessions, completing all assignments, contributing to classroom discussions and supporting student ambassador style work as required;
•    have had little or no study or travel experience in the UK or elsewhere outside of the US and;
•    expect to return to the US and continue your education.

Note: The programme is open to students in all courses of study
Those holding permanent residency ‘green cards’ may not apply.

Meal in Great HallPlease read the Terms and Conditions for this award before making an application.
In making these awards the Commission is looking not only for academic excellence but a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, an indication of ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright Programme and a plan to give back to your home country upon returning.

Candidates will be considered without respect to race, colour, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender (including gender reassignment). 


Deadline: Applications are due 26 February 2016 by 5pm (UK Time).

Before you begin the application process, please read the FAQs document and application instructions.  If you have questions or any general enquiries about the programme, you may send them to:  Be sure to follow us on twitter and receive application tips throughout the period.

To Apply: 

1. Complete our online application form (including Equal Opportunities survey). We recommend you use a copy word version of the application form to draft your responses before submitting the online application form.

2. Request two reference letters: Request letters from two (2) references and supply them with the following online reference letter form.  Reference letters should come directly from the referee via the online  form.   References must be received at the Commission by 5pm (UK time) on the day of the deadline or the application will not be considered even if other pieces have been received on time. Students should not submit letters on their referees' behalf; we will be checking references. 

3. Send a copy of your transcripts: Transcripts should be sent to the Commission by email to in the form of a PDF.  Please do not send links to transcript access sites, as we have not always been able to access transcripts from these sites and your application may be considered incomplete. We recommend you request a transcript be sent to you, and you send a copy to the address above. We will accept these transcripts.  Please note that we request official transcripts, however, if for financial or similar reasons it is difficult to obtain an official transcript, we will accept an unofficial transcript in its place.  

The 'Summer Institutes' email address is for transcript attachments only. Applications not submitted by the online system will not be accepted. Transcripts or reference letters sent in by post, fax or to any email address other than will not be accepted. 


Applications will be short-listed and successful applicants will be invited to telephone interview sometime between the dates of 5 -15 April (subject to change). Interviews will only be held selected days and may not be rescheduled.

If you are making an application, please save these dates as an invitation to interview may come within a few days of the interview date. The selection committee will be comprised of Fulbright Commission staff and on occasion representatives from partner universities, US Embassy representatives, or Fulbright alumni.

Important note: The US-UK Fulbright Commission is unable to give feedback on individual applications or to provide reasons for their refusal.

Individuals from a broad range of ethnic, religious, geographic, and socio-economic backgrounds are encouraged to apply.


25 November: Competition opens
February:  Application deadline
Late March:  Short-listed candidates invited to Interview
5-15 April:  Telephone Interviews 
Late April:  Notification for successful applicants
May: Preparation and Pre-Departure Information
2 July:  Departure for UK
3 July:  Arrival in the UK
30 July:  Return to USA

Additional Information

Programme Outline

Sunday 3 July: Arrive in Durham. Orientation and welcome.

Monday 4 - Friday 8 July: Introduction to the Roman fort at Binchester: excavation and finds processing on site. Evening talks and social events (these include public lectures, meals in Durham and a quiz.)

Saturday 9 July: Hike along Hadrian's Wall and visits to Housessteads Roman Fort and Vindolanda Fort and Museum.

Monday 11 - Friday 15 July: Excavating and processing artefacts on site at Binchester. Evening talks and social events.
Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July: Overnight trip to London, includes walking tours of Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, British Museum and St. Paul's Cathedral. You will also have free time to explore London further. 

Monday 18 – Friday 22 July: Saints, Scholars and Vikings: The Northern World in the Early Middle Ages 'From the fear of the Northmen, dear Lord deliver us': so runs the prayer from northern England faced with the terror of the Viking raids from the 8th Century to the middle of the 11th Century.  The Vikings encountered a northern world rich in material and cultural life, glorying still in the golden age of Northumbrian power from the previous century and the age of the saint so memorably chronicled by Bede.  How these worlds collided, the consequences of these encounters and the changing shape of the communities which inhabited the region will all be explored. 

Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July: Visit to Lindisfarne Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle. Or a free weekend to arrange your own travel; previous participants have taken this opportunity to visit York, Edinburgh and other parts of the UK. 

Monday 25 July – Friday 29 July: Land of the Prince-Bishops: Culture and Conquest in the High Middle Ages 'Half church of God, half tower against the Scots': so Walter Scott characterised the imposing mass of Durham Cathedral.  At the apogee of their power in the period from the 12th to the 14th centuries of the Prince-Bishops of Durham wielded power both worldly and spiritual, and were one of the major forces defining, governing and dominating the north, but with influence well beyond.  This module will examine the sources and circumstances of that power, looking at the re-foundation of Durham Cathedral, the life and influence of its community, individual bishops from the lascivious Flambard to the warrior Hatfield, and the mechanisms of power: castles, economic life and political intrigue.  

Friday 29 July: Graduation ceremony, farewell reception and leaving party

Saturday 30 July: Depart Durham


All course content and weekend site vists are subject to change. The information is intended to provide an initial scope of the programme and should not be considered final.

Student support:

Students are fully supported by International Summer School Office staff and a college welfare officer throughout the duration of the Institute.