FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a College?
Cambridge University is organised using a collegiate system. This means that if you are a student of the university you are also a member of one of the 31 Colleges. These Colleges are all different but offer their students a community within Cambridge.
At an undergraduate level, the college system is slightly more important as parts of your academics are structured according to your college. At graduate level you can have as little or as much contact with your College as you’d like – ultimately it offers you support, formals, a cafeteria (or buttery) and an MCR community (amongst other perks!).
More information about College stats can be found here.
What is a Graduate Tutor?
Each postgrad is assigned to a graduate tutor – this will happen at the start of your time at Cambridge. Your tutor is your first port of call for any issues, concerns or questions and is there to offer guidance and support. Tutors are drawn from the Fellows of the College and come from a variety of different departments.
A Director of Studies, or DoS, is a term you may come across but this is a tutor that is only relevant to undergraduate students.
Where can I get a gown?
Gowns can be rented from the Student Union here. Or purchased all year, or rented (only for graduations) from Ryder and Amies or Ede and Ravenscroft. You can also try to find second-hand gowns on Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, your College Facebook groups, or Cambridge students Facebook groups.
What is the situation with Accomodation?
College offers some accommodation specifically to postgraduate students. This includes Canning and Eliza Folk House and (every alternative year so far) Beaufort House. The college is also working on new housing solutions for students moving forward. Unfortunately it is not always possible to offer accommodation to all postgraduate students on College grounds each year but every effort is made to get you accommodation if you request it.
All information for accommodation can be found on the College website and additional information under the accommodation tab on this website.
Any questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
What gown should I get?
Gowns for Postgraduate students are the same for all colleges. If you are younger than 24, you should rent or buy a BA Gown, which reaches your knees. If you are 24, or over, you should get yourself a MA gown, which length should reach up to half of your calves.
Here is a comprehensive guide to which gown you should take.
Are there any Facebook groups for Murray Edwards Postgraduate Students?
There is a Murray Edwards MCR group and a JCR group, or MESCU, which is generally for the Undergraduate students, but might be a good source of information.
Make sure to also follow the MCR on Facebook and Instagram.
What does ‘that’ mean? A Glossary
Bedder: Cleaning staff who clean College rooms.
Bop: Themed disco in your College.
Buttery/Hall: College dining hall/canteen.
College: A College is a mini hall of residence. There are 31 Cambridge Colleges in total.
CompSci, NatSci, LandEc, Asnac, Mathmo: Nicknames for (in order) Computer Science students, Natural Sciences students, Land Economy students, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic students, and Maths students.
Cuppers: Inter-collegiate sports knockout competitions.
Ent: An ‘ent’ is a Cambridge term for an organised social event in College – for example, a party or comedy night.
Formal Hall or ‘Formal’: A three-course waiter-served meal in the College hall. These are part of the more traditional side of Cambridge, but are rarely compulsory – they’re often booked onto for birthdays and special occasions.
Gyp: Another name for a College kitchen.
JCR/MCR: Committee of students within a College. They represent their College’s students on College committees, and include roles that run welfare schemes, organise ‘ents’, and much more.
May Week: A week of parties to celebrate the end of exams. It’s actually in June…
Michaelmas term, Lent Term, Easter term: Names for (in order) the first, second, and third terms of each academic year.
Paper: A topic within your course. Papers are basically ‘modules’, but you might study a few side by side over a whole year. They’re historically called papers because they tend to lead up to an exam, in which you sit an exam paper.
Pidge: Your pigeon hole in College where you receive mail (you will be assigned one at the start of your time at Cambridge).
Porter: Staff members – wardens of College.
Plodge: The ‘Porters’ Lodge’ is generally located at the entrance of the College. Porters are friendly faces, and very much part of the College family!
Supervision: A supervision is a one-on-one or small group teaching method that allow you to focus on aspects of the course that you find particularly interesting or challenging. You’ll often submit work beforehand and receive detailed feedback in the supervision.
Swap: Two societies or groups meet (‘swap’) for alcohol and/or food.
Tripos: A name for the Cambridge degree. Degrees are usually split into Part I and Part II, with University exams at the end of each. Part I tends to be broad and general; Part II allows you to specialise.