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University of Cambridge

Cambridge, United Kingdom
Website: Founded: 1209 year Type of University:Public 6 place StudyQA ranking: 6984 pts. No. Students: 19515 No. Staff: 9823 Languages: English Phone: +441223337733 Fax: +441223332332
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About Cambridge

The University of Cambridge (informally Cambridge University or simply Cambridge)is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxfordafter a dispute with the townspeople. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often referred to jointly as "Oxbridge".

Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent colleges and over 100 academic departments organised into six schools. Cambridge University Press, a department of the university, is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world. The university also operates eight cultural and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, and a botanic garden. Cambridge's libraries hold a total of around 15 million books, eight million of which are in Cambridge University Library, a legal deposit library.

In the year ended 31 July 2015, the university had a total income of £1.64 billion, of which £398 million was from research grants and contracts. The central university and colleges have a combined endowment of around £5.89 billion, the largest of any universityoutside the United States. The university is closely linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster known as "Silicon Fen". It is a member of numerous associations and forms part of the "golden triangle" of leading English universities and Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre.

Cambridge is consistently ranked as one of the world's best universities. The university has educated many notable alumni, including eminent mathematicians, scientists, politicians, lawyers, philosophers, writers, actors, and foreign Heads of State. Ninety-five Nobel laureates, two Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force and ten Fields medalists have been affiliated with Cambridge as students, faculty, staff or alumni.

  • Faculty of Architecture and History of Art

    The Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts was established after the First World War, with the division of the Faculty into two departments – Architecture and History of Art – occurring later during the 1970s. Together the two departments form one of the eight Faculties within the University’s School of Arts and Humanities.

    The Buildings

    Scroope Terrace, an elegant Victorian terrace and a listed building, is the home of the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art and was built in two stages; numbers 1 to 7 were built in 1839 and numbers 8 to 12 in 1864 in a style uniform with that of the 1839 building. Despite alterations, much of the original building remains as it was and in the Library you can still see original plaster cornices with neo-Greek ornament. The School of Architecture moved to 1 to 3 Scroope Terrace in 1924 and expanded in the 1950s and 1960s to take over numbers 4 and 5 as well. Today, 1 to 5 Scroope Terrace is shared by both of the Departments.

    In 1958-9 an extension was constructed behind 1 Scroope Terrace to provide more space for the expanding Faculty. The extension was designed by the then First Year Master, and later Professor, Colin St John Wilson and another member of staff, Alex Hardy, who was responsible for overseeing certain technical aspects of the work. The building was designed in line with the principles of Le Corbusier’s Modulor system and was opened by Le Corbusier himself, along with the sculptor Henry Moore, after they both received their honorary degrees in June 1959.

    Until 2000 the Faculty garden contained a geodesic dome of the type devised by Buckminster Fuller. This dome was erected in 1964 in order to accommodate an artificial sky for predicting natural lighting conditions in buildings.

    The Teaching of Architecture

    The teaching of architecture was established in 1912 after the Slade Professor, the distinguished Arts and Crafts architect and scholar Edwin Schroder Prior, persuaded the University to establish a Board of Architectural Studies. Prior’s finest building is perhaps the church of St Andrew, Roker, Sunderland and his best known book is The Cathedral Builders.

    In the 1950s the University established a committee to review the teaching of architecture at Cambridge, and it was this committee that persuaded the University to expand the subject. As a result, Leslie Martin was appointed as the first Professor of Architecture and the University increased the resources available to the Faculty.

    Dr. Wendy Pullan is the current Head of Department.

    The Teaching of History of Art

    Originally, fine art was only taught at Cambridge through occasional lectures. In 1869 an endowment from Felix Slade established a Chair in Fine Art, with the holder being required to deliver an annual series of public lectures. This Chair became known as the Slade Professorship and was originally elected for life. However, since 1960 the Slade Professor has been elected for one year only. The election is carried out by a Board of Electors on which both of the Departments are represented. (For a list of past and current Slade Professors see the History of Art departmental website.)

    After the Second World War the history of art came to be taught as a set of papers in the Architecture and Fine Arts Tripos. This is thanks to Michael Jaffe, Lecturer in Fine Arts in 1961, who along with support from Sir Leslie Martin, the Professor of Architecture, started Tripos teaching for the Fine Arts. The History of Art Tripos was gradually established within the Faculty between 1961 and 1971. In 1970 the Department of History of Art was finally set up within the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art with Michael Jaffe as Head of Department, and a one-part History of Art Tripos was established. Michael Jaffe then went on to become ad hominem Professor in 1973 when he became Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum. The full three-year Tripos began in 1999.

    Professor Paul Binski is the current Head of Department.

  • Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

    Cambridge has a long and distinctive tradition in the study of the Middle East and Asia. This Faculty prides itself on exploring these fields through the local languages and encourages students to learn through real world engagement. If you are interested in these world regions and want to discover their languages, cultures, histories, religions, and politics, then this is the home for you. 

  • Faculty of Classics

    The Faculty of Classics is part of the School of Arts and Humanities in the University of Cambridge. At present the Faculty includes approximately 32 Teaching Officers (Professors, Readers, University Lecturers, and Language Teaching Officers) whose primary teaching responsibilities are university lectures and classes and graduate supervision. Most hold College Fellowships.

    In addition, there are College Fellows in Classics. Their primary teaching responsibility is undergraduate college teaching although many also give university lectures and supervise graduate students.

    There are also more than 20 people employed as Research Fellows, Directors of Research and post-doctoral researchers on projects associated with the Faculty.

    There are approximately 80 graduate students and 230 undergraduate students in the Faculty.

  • Faculty of Divinity

    The Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, is an international centre of excellence for study, teaching and research in Theology, Biblical Studies, Religious Studies, and the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.

    We are a strong academic community combining outstanding research with teaching for more than 300 students. We are housed in a fine modern building, specially constructed in the round, adjacent to related Faculties in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, on the Sidgwick Site in Cambridge. A notable strength of the Faculty of Divinity is the great variety of backgrounds and nationalities of its staff and students.

  • Faculty of English

    The Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, is an international centre of excellence for the study, teaching and research in literature and literary criticism. The Faculty was founded in 1919 and has since been home to some of the most eminent critics, scholars, teachers and writers of English literature in the world.

  • Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages

    The Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages is the home of language and linguistics teaching and research at the University of Cambridge. With nearly 1,000 students (over 770 undergraduates, 65 MPhil students and 140 PhD students) we are one of the largest humanities Faculties in the University and one of the largest languages Faculties nationally. The Faculty was founded over 130 years ago in 1879.

    The Faculty comprises six departments, which cover a range of languages and subject areas. The Faculty regularly tops a number of university and research rankings, and is home to a number of groundbreaking projects and initiatives, including the Centre for Film and Screen.

    MML is part of the School of Arts and Humanities.

  • Faculty of Music

    With its 17 academic staff, 9 affiliated lecturers, approximately 200 undergraduates and 75 graduate students, the Faculty of Music lies at the heart of a vast network of musical study, research and practice. As a highly rated research centre, our areas of special expertise include medieval and renaissance music, nineteenth-century music, opera, popular music, ethnomusicology, performance studies, composition, and scientific approaches to music: research students, postdoctoral fellows, college lecturers and distinguished international visitors work on a dizzying variety of topics. We host the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies (CMPS), which supports the work of the vast and unrivalled performance community in Cambridge and provides a platform for practice-based research into musical performance and the Centre for Music and Science (CMS). And our facilities are among the best in the country, including a fully professional concert hall, a music library, and the Centre for Music and Science with its purpose-built studio and music computing facilities. Period instruments and a Javanese gamelan are available for student use. All this is complemented by the libraries, practice rooms and other facilities available in colleges, as well as by the University Library—one of the world’s great libraries, housing over seven million volumes. But more than anything it is perhaps the larger musical environment that makes Cambridge so special.

  • Faculty of Philosophy

    The Faculty is part of the University’s School of Arts and Humanities.

    There are over 30 academic philosophers working in the Faculty. We have about 150 undergraduates and about 50 graduate students.

    The philosophical community in Cambridge is is enhanced by the presence of philosophers in other departments and Faculties – for example, Classics, History and Philosophy of Science, Law, Politics and International Studies. The Faculty of Philosophy has strong teaching and research links with these philosophers in the rest of the University.

    Our undergraduate degree has a claim to be among the best single-subject philosophy degrees in the UK. Our postgraduate programmes have trained philosophers now working all over the world.

  • Centre for Research in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

    CRASSH was established at the University of Cambridge in 2001 and is now one of the world’s largest interdisciplinary research institutions. The Centre has grown into a vibrant research community of over 50 researchers working on around 10 major research projects, alongside a programme of research development of over 300 events a year.

  • Faculty of Human, Social and Political Science

    The Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science houses 3 departments: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Department of Politics and International Studies and Department of Sociology. Each of these departments has a worldwide reputation for teaching and research, and the undergraduate curriculum (Tripos) is designed to serve both students who have a clear disciplinary commitment at the time of application as well as those who want a broader multidisciplinary degree. Students with a passion for politics can take advantage of links with such departments as Economics and History, those with interests in Sociology can draw on Anthropology and Geography.

    Undergraduate students study several disciplines in their first year and then specialise in one or two disciplines in their second and third years. Politics and International Relations, Sociology and Social Anthropology will continue to be taught in the HSPS Tripos. Clearly specified tracks (Politics, Social Anthropology, Sociology, or a combination of disciplines) ensure that students graduate with appropriate intellectual and professional skills. Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies will be taught as part of the new Archaeology Tripos.

    At the graduate level, there are established one-year M.Phils in Archaeology (including Assyriology and Egyptology), Biological Anthropology, International Relations and Politics, Social Anthropology, Sociology, Latin American Studies, South Asian Studies, African Studies, Development Studies and Gender Studies. M.Phil in Public Policy, and the Institute for Continuing Education also offers a two-year part-time M.St course in International Relations, in conjunction with the Department of Politics and International Studies.  Ph.D students conduct research within a wide range of subjects within Archaeology, Assyriology, Egyptology, Biological and Social Anthropology, Politics & International Studies, Development Studies and Sociology.

  • Faculty of Economics

    Economists have been flourishing in Cambridge University for a long time. Robert Malthus, active two hundred years ago, was described by Keynes as 'the first of the Cambridge economists'. But it was in 1903 that the Professor of Political Economy, Alfred Marshall succeeded in establishing what was to become the Economics Tripos as an undergraduate degree course and thereby established the Faculty of Economics and Politics. By then Marshall had already published his great Principles of Economics in which he set out for the first time the geometric analysis of supply and demand, incorporating the systematic treatment of different time periods. He went on to develop the quantity theory of money in an attempt to understand the macro-economy. In 1907 Marshall's professorship was taken by Arthur Pigou who developed the foundations of modern public economics in his The Economics of Welfare, published in 1920.

    Between the Wars, the Faculty was extraordinarily innovative, witnessing the birth of modern macro-economics and a revolution in micro-economics. The dominant figure was Marshall's pupil John Maynard Keynes who, throughout his life, moved fruitfully between academic thought and public policy. His analysis of the role of monetary and fiscal policy in determining the level of employment has enhanced public policy making ever since, as have the international institutions he caused to be established after the Second World War. Joan Robinson published The Economics of Imperfect Competitionin 1933. Working with both on these problems were, among others, Denis Robertson, Richard Kahn, Austin Robinson, Maurice Dobb and Piero Sraffa.

    The economic demands of the Second World War provided the stimulus for Richard Stone and James Meade to develop the basis of modern national accounting. Both were subsequently to be awarded Nobel Prizes for this and other work. With Keynes, Stone established the Department of Applied Economics in 1945, as a research wing for the Faculty, with financial support from the University. His Directorship was followed by those of Brian Reddaway and Wynne Godley, before the present Director, David Newbery took over in 1988. From its inception, the DAE has proved to be a remarkable nursery for economists who have achieved subsequent distinction in academic and public life.

    Many distinguished scholars have worked in the Faculty and contributed to its intellectual life in recent decades, among them Nicholas Kaldor and Frank Hahn. The present Faculty continues its long established interest in public economics, macro-economics, business strategy, and the problems of economic measurement. Sir James Mirrlees was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1996 for his work on optimal taxation and the theory of incentives, and Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998 for his work on welfare economics and income distribution. Sir Partha Dasgupta has been President of the Royal Economic Society and President of the European Economic Association.

    Another tradition upheld by current Faculty members is that of involvement in public policy, active on, among other bodies, the Monetary Policy Committee, the Competition Commission, the Low Pay Commission, and the Accounting Standards Board. As the Faculty of Economics and Politics approaches its hundredth birthday, it remains committed to keeping economics useful.

  • Faculty of Education

    The Faculty offers a wide range of high quality courses in a variety of different levels of study: from undergraduate through to doctoral level programmes. There is an extensive choice of subject specialisms on offer as well as a focus on education as a discipline.

  • Faculty of History

    The Faculty of History is one of the largest history departments in the world. The Faculty has consistently obtained the highest ratings in official evaluations for teaching and research. Its work spans three millennia, straddles the globe and exemplifies the rich variety of sub-disciplines that constitutes history today.

  • Faculty of Law

    There are at present 24 professors, 6 readers, and over 70 other University, Faculty and College Teaching Officers. They include specialists in almost every aspect of English law and its history, the laws of other countries (especially European), European Community law, public and private international law, Roman law, legal philosophy, and criminology. A list of teaching members, with their principal research interests, is available in the Academic staff section.

    At any one time around 6% of Cambridge undergraduates are reading law. The student body comprises about 700 undergraduate and 250 graduate students. Graduates from the Faculty are prominent in academic life, in the judiciary, and in both branches of the legal profession. Cambridge judicial alumni include two former Presidents as well as four current members of the International Court of Justice, two former judges of the European Court of Justice, and several members of the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

  • Institute of Criminology

    The Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, UK, has a worldwide reputation for excellence in both research and teaching. Information about our teaching and research can be found on our courses and research pages. Further information about the Institute can be found using the relevant link.

    The Institute, founded by Sir Leon Radzinowicz in 1959, was one of the first criminological institutes in Europe and has exerted a strong influence on the development of the discipline. Many of the academic staff are international leaders in their fields. Staff hail from ultidisciplinary international backgrounds and their interests cover a broad range of topics, please see individual personal pages to read more on the research involved. In recognition of their outstanding research, Cambridge criminologists have been awarded numerous prestigious international awards.

    The Institute is also home to the Radzinowicz Library, which houses the most comprehensive criminology collection in the United Kingdom.

    The Institute of Criminology, as with the University of Cambridge as a whole, is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to a proactive and inclusive approach to equality, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture, and values diversity.

  • Faculty of Biology

    The Faculty Board of Biology is responsible for the undergraduate teaching of biological sciences in the Natural Sciences Tripos through the Biological Sciences Committee, for the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos through the MVST Part I Committee and for the Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Tripos through the PBS Management Committee.

  • Faculty of Earth Sciences & Geography

    The Faculty of Earth Sciences and Geography is within the School of Physical Sciences and incorporates the following Departments:

    • Department of Geography
      • Scott Polar Research Institute
    • Department of Earth Sciences

  • Faculty of Mathematics

    Our current mathematical community thrives in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, the building that houses the Faculty of Mathematics and, most importantly, our students and staff, including Sir Tim Gowers, Sir David Spiegelhalter and Stephen Hawking, CH.

    The Faculty co-ordinates teaching, including the Mathematical Tripos. As with other undergraduate courses in Cambridge, lectures and examinations are the responsilbity of the Faculty, while the 31 individual Colleges of the University organise small group teaching through supervisions. The Colleges also handle undergraduate admissions.

    Postgraduate study in mathematics includes the Master of Mathematics/Master of Advanced Study, which is our renowned one-year taught course that, for historical reasons, is also known as 'Part III of the Mathematical Tripos'. In addition, the Faculty also offers several one-year MPhil courses, and a PhD research programme that includes the Cambridge Centre for Analysis, an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Mathematical Analysis.

    For research and administrative purposes the Faculty is split into two departments:

    • the Department of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics (DAMTP);
    • the Department of Pure Mathematics & Mathematical Statistics (DPMMS), which has the Statistical Laboratory as a sub-department.

    Located on the same site as the Faculty is the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences; a centre that attracts outstanding international researchers as visitors.

  • Faculty of Physics & Chemistry

  • School of Clinical Medicine

    The University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine aims to provide leadership in education, discovery and healthcare. The School will achieve this through: inspirational teaching and training, outstanding basic and clinical research and integration of these to improve medical practice for both individual patients and the population.

  • School of Technology

    The term 'School' in Cambridge usually indicates an administrative grouping of related departments. The School of Technology is one of six Schools, each of which has an elected supervisory body, The Council of the School, comprising representatives of the constituent faculties and departments in each School. The Council acts as a co-ordinating organisation for its group of departments and filters much academic business before its transmission to the General Board.

    The aim of the School of Technology is to provide a focus and framework for its constituent departments to formulate and express views pertinent to technology, both within and without the University, recognising that technology has its own priorities and its own criteria for success: above all, technology departments recognise a duty to influence and be influenced by society at large and to work towards the creation of wealth and an improved quality of life.

    The School contains about 208 permanent academic staff who direct 2,789 students. The School's annual turnover is approximately £68m.

  • Faculty of Computer Science & Technology

    The Faculty Board oversees the work of the Computer Laboratory and is responsible for ensuring the provision of facilities for research, for preparing the teaching programme and for ensuring that the teaching given is of a high standard. It replaced the Computer Science Syndicate in 2006.

History of Cambridge

By the late 12th century, the Cambridge region already had a scholarly and ecclesiastical reputation, due to monks from the nearby bishopric church of Ely. However, it was an incident at Oxford which is most likely to have formed the establishment of the university: two Oxford scholars were hanged by the town authorities for the death of a woman, without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities, who would normally take precedence (and pardon the scholars) in such a case, but were at that time in conflict with King John. The University of Oxford went into suspension in protest, and most scholars moved to cities such as Paris, Reading, and Cambridge. After the University of Oxford reformed several years later, enough scholars remained in Cambridge to form the nucleus of the new university. In order to claim precedence, it is common for Cambridge to trace its founding to the 1231 charter from King Henry III granting it the right to discipline its own members (ius non-trahi extra) and an exemption from some taxes. (Oxford would not receive a similar enhancement until 1248.)

A bull in 1233 from Pope Gregory IX gave graduates from Cambridge the right to teach "everywhere in Christendom". After Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a letter by Pope Nicholas IV in 1290, and confirmed as such in a bull by Pope John XXII in 1318, it became common for researchers from other European medieval universities to visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses.

Foundation of the colleges

The colleges at the University of Cambridge were originally an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself. The colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars. There were also institutions without endowments, called hostels. The hostels were gradually absorbed by the colleges over the centuries, but they have left some indicators of their time, such as the name of Garret Hostel Lane.

Hugh Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founded Peterhouse, Cambridge's first college, in 1284. Many colleges were founded during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but colleges continued to be established throughout the centuries to modern times, although there was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussex in 1596 and Downing in 1800. The most recently established college is Robinson, built in the late 1970s. However, Homerton College only achieved full university college status in March 2010, making it the newest full college (it was previously an "Approved Society" affiliated with the university).

In medieval times, many colleges were founded so that their members would pray for the souls of the founders, and were often associated with chapels or abbeys. A change in the colleges' focus occurred in 1536 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. King Henry VIII ordered the university to disband its Faculty of Canon Law and to stop teaching "scholastic philosophy". In response, colleges changed their curricula away from canon law, and towards the classics, the Bible, and mathematics.

Nearly a century later, the university was at the centre of a Protestant schism. Many nobles, intellectuals and even commoners saw the ways of the Church of England as being too similar to the Catholic Church and that it was used by the crown to usurp the rightful powers of the counties. East Anglia was the centre of what became the Puritanmovement and at Cambridge, it was particularly strong at Emmanuel, St Catharine's Hall, Sidney Sussex and Christ's College. They produced many "non-conformist" graduates who greatly influenced, by social position or pulpit, the approximately 20,000 Puritans who left for New England and especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Great Migration decade of the 1630s. Oliver Cromwell, Parliamentary commander during the English Civil War and head of the English Commonwealth (1649–1660), attended Sidney Sussex.

Mathematics and mathematical physics

Examination in mathematics was once compulsory for all undergraduates studying for the Bachelor of Arts degree, the main first degree at Cambridge in both arts and sciences. From the time of Isaac Newton in the later 17th century until the mid-19th century, the university maintained an especially strong emphasis on applied mathematics, particularly mathematical physics. The exam is known as a Tripos. Students awardedfirst-class honours after completing the mathematics Tripos are termed wranglers, and the top student among them is the Senior Wrangler. TheCambridge Mathematical Tripos is competitive and has helped produce some of the most famous names in British science, including James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin and Lord Rayleigh. However, some famous students, such as G. H. Hardy, disliked the system, feeling that people were too interested in accumulating marks in exams and not interested in the subject itself.

Pure mathematics at Cambridge in the 19th century had great achievements but also missed out on substantial developments in French and German mathematics. Pure mathematical research at Cambridge finally reached the highest international standard in the early 20th century, thanks above all to G. H. Hardy and his collaborator, J. E. Littlewood. In geometry, W. V. D. Hodge brought Cambridge into the international mainstream in the 1930s.

Although diversified in its research and teaching interests, Cambridge today maintains its strength in mathematics. Cambridge alumni have won six Fields Medals and one Abel Prize for mathematics, while individuals representing Cambridge have won four Fields Medals.

Modern period

After the Cambridge University Act formalised the organizational structure of the university, the study of many new subjects was introduced, such as theology, history and modern languages. Resources necessary for new courses in the arts, architecture andarchaeology were donated by Richard Fitzwilliam of Trinity College. Between 1896 and 1902, Downing College sold part of its land to build the Downing Site, comprising new scientific laboratories for anatomy, genetics and Earth sciences. During the same period, theNew Museums Site was erected, including the Cavendish Laboratory, which has since moved to the West Cambridge Site, and otherdepartments for chemistry and medicine.

The University of Cambridge began to award doctorates in the first third of the 20th century. The first Cambridge PhD in mathematics was awarded in 1924.

In the First World War, 13,878 members of the university served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching, and the fees it earned, came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence the university first received systematic state support in 1919, and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the university (but not the colleges) should receive an annual grant. Following theSecond World War, the university saw a rapid expansion of student numbers and available places; this was partly due to the success and popularity gained by many Cambridge scientists.

Parliamentary representation

The university was one of only eight UK universities to hold a parliamentary seat in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The constituency was created by a Royal Charter of 1603 and returned two members of parliament. It was abolished in 1950 by theRepresentation of the People Act 1948.

The constituency was not a geographical area. Its electorate consisted of the graduates of the University. Before 1918 the franchise was restricted to male graduates with a doctorate or MA degree.

Women's education

For many years only male students were enrolled into the university. The first colleges for women were Girton College (founded by Emily Davies) in 1869 and Newnham College in 1872 (founded by Anne Clough and Henry Sidgwick), followed by Hughes Hall in 1885 (founded by Elizabeth Phillips Hughes as the Cambridge Teaching College for Women), Murray Edwards College (founded by Rosemary Murray asNew Hall) in 1954, and Lucy Cavendish College in 1965. The first women students were examined in 1882 but attempts to make women full members of the university did not succeed until 1948. Women were allowed to study courses, sit examinations, and have their results recorded from 1881; for a brief period after the turn of the twentieth century, this allowed the "steamboat ladies" to receive ad eundem degrees from the University of Dublin.

From 1921 women were awarded diplomas which "conferred the Title of the Degree of Bachelor of Arts". As they were not "admitted to the Degree of Bachelor of Arts" they were excluded from the governing of the university. Since students must belong to a college, and since established colleges remained closed to women, women found admissions restricted to colleges established only for women. Darwin College, the first wholly graduate college of the University, matriculated both men and women students from its inception in 1964 – and elected a mixed fellowship. Of the undergraduate colleges, starting with Churchill, Clare and King's Colleges, the former men's colleges began to admit women between 1972 and 1988. One of the female-only colleges, Girton, also began to admit male students from 1979, but the other female-only colleges did not do likewise. As a result of St Hilda's College, Oxford, ending its ban on male students in 2008, Cambridge is now the only remaining United Kingdom University with female-only colleges (Newnham, Murray Edwards and Lucy Cavendish). In the academic year 2004–5, the university's student sex ratio, including post-graduates, was male 52%: female 48%.

Myths, legends and traditions

As an institution with such a long history, the University has developed a large number of myths and legends. The vast majority of these are untrue, but have been propagated nonetheless by generations of students and tour guides.

A discontinued tradition is that of the wooden spoon, the 'prize' awarded to the student with the lowest passing grade in the final examinations of the Mathematical Tripos. The last of these spoons was awarded in 1909 to Cuthbert Lempriere Holthouse, an oarsman of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St John's College. It was over one metre in length and had an oar blade for a handle. It can now be seen outside the Senior Combination Room of St John's. Since 1908, results were published alphabetically within class rather than score order. This made it harder to ascertain who the winner of the spoon was (unless there was only one person in the third class), and so the practice was abandoned.

Each Christmas Eve, BBC radio and television broadcasts The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. The radio broadcast has been a national Christmas tradition since it was first transmitted in 1928 (though the festival has existed since 1918). The radio broadcast is carried worldwide by the BBC World Serviceand is also syndicated to hundreds of radio stations in the USA. The first television broadcast of the festival was in 1954.



  • Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Privy Council
  • Year of first Accreditation - 1231
  • Other Specialized or Programmatic Accreditations - European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD-EQUIS)


  • According to the 2016 Complete University Guide, the University of Cambridge is ranked first amongst the UK’s universities; this ranking is based on a broad raft of criteria from entry standards and student satisfaction to quality of teaching in specific subjects and job prospects for graduates.
  • The University is ranked as the 2nd best university in the UK for the quality of graduates according to recruiters from the UK's major companies.
  • In 2014–15, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP), Cambridge is ranked second in UK (coming second to Oxford) and ranked fifth in the world.
  • In the 2001 and 2008 Government Research Assessment Exercises, Cambridge was ranked first in the country.
  • In 2005, it was reported that Cambridge produces more PhDs per year than any other British university (over 30% more than second placed Oxford).
  • In 2006, a Thomson Scientific study showed that Cambridge has the highest research paper output of any British university, and is also the top research producer (as assessed by total paper citation count) in 10 out of 21 major British research fields analysed.
  • Cambridge has been highly ranked by most international and UK league tables. In particular, it had topped the QS World University Rankings from 2010/11 to 2011/12.
  • A 2006 Newsweek overall ranking, which combined elements of the THES-QS and ARWU rankings with other factors that purportedly evaluated an institution's global "openness and diversity", suggested Cambridge was sixth around the globe.
  • In The Guardian newspaper's 2012 rankings, Cambridge had overtaken Oxford in philosophy, law, politics, theology, maths, classics, anthropology and modern languages.
  • In the 2009 Times Good University Guide Subject Rankings, it was ranked top (or joint top) in 34 out of the 42 subjects which it offers.
  • But Cambridge has been ranked only 30th in the world and 3rd in the UK by the Mines ParisTech: Professional Ranking of World Universities based on the number of alumni holding CEO position in Fortune Global 500 companies.

Student life @Cambridge 

Students' Union

The Cambridge University Students' Union (CUSU) serves to represent all the students within the University which automatically become members upon arrival. It was founded in 1964 as the Students' Representative Council (SRC); the six most important positions in the Union are occupied by Sabbatical officers. However, turnout in recent elections has been low, with the 2014/15 president elected with votes in favour from only 7.5% of the whole student body.


Rowing is a particularly popular sport at Cambridge, and there are competitions between colleges, notably the bumps races, and against Oxford, the Boat Race. There are also Varsity matches against Oxford in many other sports, ranging from cricket and rugby, to chess andtiddlywinks. Athletes representing the University in certain sports are entitled to apply for a Cambridge Blue at the discretion of the Blues Committee, consisting of the captains of the thirteen most prestigious sports. There is also the self-described "unashamedly elite" Hawks' Club, which is for men only, whose membership is usually restricted to Cambridge Full Blues and Half Blues. The Ospreys are the equivalent female club.

The University of Cambridge Sports Centre opened in August 2013. Phase 1 included a 37x34m Sports Hall, a Fitness Suite, a Strength and Conditioning Room, a Multi-Purpose Room and Eton and Rugby Fives courts. Phase 1b included 5 glass backed squash courts and a Team Training Room. Future phases include indoor and outdoor tennis courts and a swimming pool.

The University also has an Athletics Track at Wilberforce Road, an Indoor Cricket School and Fenner's Cricket Ground.

See also: Cambridge University A.F.C., Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs, Cambridge University Boat Club, Cambridge University Women's Boat Club, Cambridge University Gliding Club, and Cambridge University Handball Club


Numerous student-run societies exist in order to encourage people who share a common passion or interest to periodically meet or discuss. As of 2010, there were 751 registered societies. In addition to these, individual colleges often promote their own societies and sports teams.

Although technically independent from the University, the Cambridge Union Society serves as a focus for debating and public speaking, as the oldest free speech society in the world, and the largest in Cambridge. Drama societies notably include the Amateur Dramatic Club (ADC) and the comedy club Footlights, which are known for producing well-known show-business personalities. The Cambridge UniversityChamber Orchestra explores a range of programmes, from popular symphonies to lesser known works; membership of the orchestra is composed of students of the university.

Newspapers and radio

Student newspapers include the long-established Varsity, its younger rival The Cambridge Student, and news and culture magazine theCambridge Globalist. 

The Globalist covers politics, culture, economics, science and technology. The Cambridge Globalist, subtitled 'An Undergraduate International Affairs Magazine', existed as an offshoot of the student newspaper Varsity for several years in thenoughties and was in existence until 2007. At one point it had a print run of 11,000 and featured advertisers including the Financial Times. The Cambridge Globalist was refounded by Lucy Wark, Alasdair Phillips-Robins and Ravi Solanki in 2013. The new publication bears limited resemblance to its previous iteration.

But the publication with by far the highest readership is The Tab, Cambridge's student tabloid. Together with colleagues from Anglia Ruskin University, students run a radio station, Cam FM, which provides members with an opportunity to produce and host weekly radio shows and promotes broadcast journalism, sports coverage, comedy and drama.


In addition to university-wide representation, students can benefit from their own college student unions, which are known as JCR (Junior Combination Room) for undergraduates and MCR (Middle Combination Room) for postgraduates. These serve as a link between college staff and members and consists of officers elected annually between the fellow students; individual JCR and MCRs also report to CUSU, which offers training courses for some of the most delicate positions within the body.

Formal Halls and May Balls

One of the most distinguishing aspects of student life at Cambridge is the possibility to take part in formal dinners at college. These are called Formal Hall and occur regularly during term time. Students sit down for a meal in their gowns, while Fellows eat separately on High Table: the beginning and end of the function is usually celebrated with a prayer. Special formals are organized for events such as Christmas or the Commemoration of Benefactors.

After the exam period, May Week is held and it is customary to celebrate by attending May Balls. These are all-night long lavish parties held in the colleges where food and drinks are served and entertainment is provided. TIME magazine argues that some of the larger May Balls are among the best private parties in the world. Suicide Sunday, the first day of May Week, is a popular date for organizing garden parties.

Benefits of Studying at Cambridge

The Supervision System

As a graduate student at Cambridge you will be a member of a world-leading University, with departments internationally renowned for their research and the originality and significance of the work contributed by their academics. You will receive close individual support from an expert in your field - your faculty or department will assign you a personal supervisor whose role is to guide your programme of study or research. The availability of a suitable supervisor is one of the factors a faculty or department takes into account when considering your application.

Most students studying for a research degree also have a second supervisor or adviser who may be from a different faculty or department (if your research topic requires this). You may also be allocated a mentor. This supporting team monitors your progress and may be involved in your assessment during the first year. Some departments and all Colleges also have a graduate tutor available for personal or professional problem-solving, and for feedback.

Your supervisor completes a report on your progress at the end of each term. They will also help you to clarify your ideas; ensure that you recognise and aim to meet the required standard; and point you in the direction of information and resources that should enable you to produce first-rate work. But only you can ensure that you take full advantage of all the educational facilities that are available.

Supervising and Teaching Undergraduate Students

Research students may have the opportunity to gain supervising and demonstrating experience by undertaking teaching on behalf of colleges and departments. Supervisions involve the teaching of undergraduates in small groups of between one and four students at regular intervals throughout the term. Demonstrating involves helping academic staff in running laboratory classes and various teaching exercises such as drawing or computer-aided process engineering. Such experience can be immensely valuable in developing a wide range of transferrable skills which can be important for future career success, whether in academia or in other fields.

In order to ensure that this teaching does not affect your studies, such work is limited to a few hours a week (generally up to maximum of between 6 and 10 hours), and although the work is paid, it is not sufficient to make any meaningful contribution towards the cost of your studies.

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