The Tab’s comprehensive guide to the Cambridge colleges

We’re here to spill the proverbial beans


You can't trust the admissions websites, or the glossy brochures for prospective applicants. But you CAN, of course, trust The Tab, Cambridge's most reputable source of gossip, bitterness and spice. We're here to tell you about all the dodgy gyps (with one hotplate to share between the 8 residents of your staircase), the unknown perks and the far flung locations. Plus, we obviously need to ensure that all those hackneyed stereotypes are sufficiently shored up, so that we can milk them for the countless 'What X Is Your College' articles in the years to come.

Christ’s

Established in 1437, with about 450 undergrads.

Almost cute enough to make up for the academic intensity

Almost cute enough to make up for the academic intensity

Pros

Very quaint and pretty, with lots of green space and gardens.

Very central – close to clubs, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, a cinema, 5 min from Sainsbury's, very close to most lecture sites.

Has an outdoor swimming pool, which is lovely in the summer and has been redone so it’s not old and skanky.

Nicely medium sized.

Cons

Everyone in college knowing one another – if you get with someone at bop the whole college will know in ten minutes .

The plodge faces right out into the busiest part of town, around Petty Cury.

It’s extremely pushy, because it's so academic and high in the Tompkins Table – this makes supervisors very intense around exams.

Churchill

Established in 1958, with about 450 undergrads.

It's the personality that counts xx

It's the personality that counts xx

Pros

Has loads of sports facilities, and they're all nearby, as they have more space.

Cool sculptures.

More laid-back atmosphere than many others, since it’s modern and you can walk on the grass. This makes it less intimidating than the really traditional ones.

Cons

Pretty bad in terms of gender ratio, traditionally – more men than women.

Lots more sciences students than arts (which partly contributes to gender ratios too)

Very pricey laundry.

Formals aren’t very Harry Potter esque – you don’t need to wear gowns and it’s in a modern hall.

Distance!! It’s quite far away.

Corpus Christi

Established in 1352, with about 250 undergrads.

Teeny tiny but very sweet

Teeny tiny but very sweet

Pros

One of the most central colleges – really near King’s.

Lovely entrance which is really striking when you walk past it on the street.

Cute feel, since it's so small and friendly.

They give out big travel grants, which is always fantastic if you give the college an academic reason for flying across the world.

Cons

Mediaeval guest policy, where you can be fined for having people over to stay (ie The Sex Police)

It’s teeny weeny – this is such a pain if you get with someone – everyone will know.

The fucking clock. It’s ugly and loud.

Some students have to live above the Eagle pub, which stops being fun when you get woken up at all hours of the night.

Clare

Established in 1326, with about 450 undergrads.

Very aesthetic

Very aesthetic

Pros

Super central and pretty.

Cool bar in the cellars.

Famed for very good weekly Clare Ents in the grungy and very aesthetic cellars – people from other colleges often want to come.

Really lovely gardens and a bridge over the River Cam, with a very Instagrammable view.

Cons

Kitchens are quite poorly equipped – few freezers and no ovens.

Accommodation is quite dispersed, like Memorial Court and Clare Colony on Chesterton Roadf.

Old Court might be pretty but it's quite small so few students live there.

They cut down their cute cherry blossom tree.

Downing*

Established in 1800, with about 400 undergrads.

Pros

Amazing, hotel-standard accommodation.

Lovely grounds, with lots of green space in the middle of the site.

Centrally located but quiet, not a lot of tourists.

In a part of town with lots of restaurants, like Pizza Express, Nana Mex and Zizzi, and is the closest college to Spoons.

Costa Coffee in the cafe.

Cons

Very expensive accommodation, since it's so nice and has double beds.

Have to walk back home past Spoons, Novi, All Bar One, which can be rowdy. A few girls have reported being followed back into college by members of the public.

Emmanuel*

Established in 1584, with about 500 undergrads.

Ayooooo more cloisters

Ayooooo more cloisters

Pros

Central, but off the tourist track, lots of open space, close enough to shops and lectures but far away enough from the masses of tourists around King’s.

Free laundry! Emma students will have no excuse not to be clean.

Great college shop.

Outside swimming pool for summer – though it’s very chilly.

Cons

Bit of a walk away from Arts facilities – on the opposite side of town from Sidgwick.

Not really ‘known’ for much.

Quite hit and miss with accommodation.

Very academic, which can make it a bit intense at times.

Fitzwilliam

Established in 1966, with about 500 undergrads.

No sugar-coating this, tbh

No sugar-coating this, tbh

Pros

Perhaps thanks to the distance, Fitz have a habit of migrating en masse when it comes to a night out, and in general there's a strong community spirit.

The location also has its perks, with an Aldi (recently voted best gin) just a five minute walk away.

Most chilled (see Tompkins table history).

Good kitchen space – most 1st, 2nd and 3rd year rooms have kitchens.

Cons

The brutalist archietecture (or 1960s period features if you're being kind).

The brutal cycle up the hill.

Often forgotten in any 'Which *whatever* is your college' list.

Modern dining hall.

Friends at other colleges typically want you to go to them rather than them coming to you because they think that you're too far out (we're not really!)

Gonville and Caius

Established in 1348, with about 500 undergrads.

Fit but first years live about 14894505830 miles from here

Fit but first years live about 14894505830 miles from here

Pros

In first year, you all live together in Harvey Court, which is great for gelling as a year group.

Harvey Court is near the UL and Sidgwick.

Very beautiful library, with high ceilings and wooden bookcases everywhere.

Has the richest boat club, so it’s ideal if you want to get into the rowing scene.

Cons

You have to eat in hall 36 times per term, and the food is pretty notoriously bad.

The college is on several sites, across different roads, which is a shame for bonding and isn’t as conducive to a community feel.

Girton

Established in 1869, with about 550 undergrads.

This is, in fact, a drawing. None of the Tab team has ever strayed far enough, in the name of investigative journalism, to actually take a picture we could use

This is, in fact, a drawing. None of the Tab team has ever strayed far enough, in the name of investigative journalism, to actually take a picture we could use

Pros

The distance from town means that there’s a really strong sense of community and very few tourists.

Sports facilities including tennis courts and squash courts are within the college grounds, which are very pretty.

You can get an allotment – very wholesome.

Cons

Furthest college out, takes 20 minutes to cycle into central Cambridge.

Friends will rarely come to visit, you’ll have to go to them.

Feels a bit like a boarding school.

Homerton

Established in 1768, becoming a constituent college in 2010, with about 600 undergrads.

Don't be fooled by the pleasant exterior – Homerton bops are renowned for students smearing shit on the walls

Don't be fooled by the pleasant exterior – Homerton bops are renowned for students smearing shit on the walls

Pros

Very friendly college – you're allowed to walk on the grass, so feels less stuffy than others.

Near to Nando’s, Junction, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Chiquito, Cinema. All only 2 minute walk.

Quite pretty – a more classically Cambridge look than many people would think.

Cons

It’s at least a ten/fifteen minute cycle to get to town, down a busy road.

Can’t use Uni4 bus service anymore.

If you have friends from other colleges, they won’t want to visit you at Homerton usually, meaning you always have to go into town.

Apart from Junction, no clubs near.

Jesus

Established in 1496, with about 500 undergrads.

Sit on the horse

Sit on the horse

Pros

An unusual looking college – not classically ‘Cambridge’, but very pretty and striking.

Really big – sports grounds right by the college.

You’ll be near the college site for all three years (eg on Jesus Lane) in very quaint houses.

Fantastic, newly renovated bar which looks like something out of St Pancras International.

Cons

In a slightly awkward location – actually quite far from lectures, and if you go out, the walk home in the dark is a bit nerve-wracking.

You’re not allowed to sit on the horse sculpture, no matter how tempting it is.

Freshers will harass you for tickets to the May Ball, which is very popular with first years.

King's

Established in 1441, with about 400 undergrads.

Keeping all postcard suppliers in business

Keeping all postcard suppliers in business

Pros

Iconic chapel – probs the most photographed building in Cambridge

Really good atmosphere at the college bar, since it's really close to the student accommodation.

Club nights at ‘Bunker’ are really #edgy and tickets are coveted outside the college.

Great record on state school access

Cons

SO many tourists, especially around plodge.

Communist flag in the bar, which is very controv.

Culled their population of geese 🙁 – this sparked protests from students.

Accommodation isn’t actually as impressive as lots of people would expect – pretty normal in first year.

Formals are expensive and not held very regularly.

Magdalene

Established 1428, with about 350 undergrads.

Saved by the virtue of its hanging baskets

Saved by the virtue of its hanging baskets

Pros

Small enough the you get to know everyone in your year really well.

Has its own punts and the longest river frontage of any Cambridge college.

Candlelit formal hall is held every night and it’s one of the cheapest in Cambridge.

Not very well known, so not too many tourists.

Cons

Only began accepting women in 1988 and was the last Oxbridge college to do so – if you sit on the beach you will hear punt guides say this every time they go past.

Spread out, with a road in between sites.

Buildings like Benson O are truly ugly.

Murray Edwards

Established in 1954, with about 400 undergrads.

Brutalism is actually quite in now, Mum

Brutalism is actually quite in now, Mum

Pros

Loads of super cool art, by women – e.g. Tracey Emin.

Relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with a lovely community, sandpit, and great welfare provision

Medwards Garden Party in May Week is really cool and not very expensive – loads of people from other colleges usually want to go.

Has a fountain.

Cons

Up the hill so a bit of a trek to get back to after lectures or clubbing.

Very poor so everything is expensive (food, accommodation, formals, washing, wifi etc).

Quite stark architecture, but this might appeal if you’re into the #brutalist trend.

Newnham

Established in 1871, with about 400 undergrads.

Gal power !

Gal power !

Pros

Beautiful architecture.

Undergraduates live in college for their whole time at Cambridge

Lots of famous alumni (Philippa Fawcett, Emma Thompson, Diane Abbott, AS Byatt).

Very close to Sidgwick site – great location for Arts students.

Sports grounds within college, with tennis courts and netball courts.

Cons

People might assume you were pooled.

As it is all-girls, people often socialise outside of college, which can lead to a less tight-knit atmosphere.

In 2013, TCS reported that nearly a third of University-wide fines came solely from Newnham, particularly because of their “housekeeping fines” for untidy rooms.

Pembroke

Established in 1347, with about 450 undergrads.

An image which has, on numerous occasions, graced the pages of The Daily Mail

An image which has, on numerous occasions, graced the pages of The Daily Mail

Pros

Very quaint and pretty, with lovely gardens.

Some of the best food in Cambridge – rumoured a Michelin starred chef is behind the kitchens.

All first year accomodation is on site.

AMAZING brunch.

Cons

Unexpectedly academic, so the atmosphere can be intense and the library gets very crowded full of people you know.

Scholars ballot makes it difficult for arts and humanities students to get good rooms in later years.

Some second and third year accomodation isn’t central – could end up far away from the college site – and is a bit old and tatty.

Peterhouse

Established in 1284, with about 250 undergrads.

Cute but Tory

Cute but Tory

Pros

Pretty central.

The lovely Deer Park.

The oldest college.

Room ballot system which rewards you not just for academic results but also extra curriculars.

Very small so everyone will know you.

David Mitchell went there.

Cons

Minimum meal charge – means you have to buy 35 meals costing at least £2.80 each every term, even if you’d rather cook.

Room points system means best rooms go to those with enough time to be in lots of societies (this often favours arts students and not science students).

Slightly stuffy reputation.

Queens’

Established 1448, with about 500 undergrads.

Enough exposed timber to set your Laura Ashley obsessed mother's heart racing

Enough exposed timber to set your Laura Ashley obsessed mother's heart racing

Pros

All accommodation on site which gives a nice community feel.

Tasty and cheap formals and lunch.

Excellently location for arts students.

The old part of the college is stunning, but the new Cripps Building is divisive with many thinking it incredibly ugly.

Cons

Some accommodation in ‘sets’ which you might not like if you really want privacy.

Accommodation is quite pricey and they monitor your energy usage.

Nobody spells it right – that bloody apostrophe.

Loads of tourists taking snaps of the Mathematical Bridge.

Robinson

Established in 1977, with about 400 undergrads.

Easily mistaken for a car park

Easily mistaken for a car park

Pros

Most rooms are en-suite, or you only have to share your loo with two or three people.

Super close to Sidgwick – 5 minutes’ walk or a 2 minute cycle.

It’s a very social college, especially between different year groups

Very few tourists.

Cons

It’s very red. This could be a pro, if you like red. But it’s very red.

Not a very rich college, which means that rents are high and there’s not much in the way of facilities or bursaries.

One of the more private school heavy colleges.

Selwyn*

Established in 1882, with about 350 undergrads.

So. Much. Brick.

So. Much. Brick.

Pros

Next door to Sidgwick Site.

They have a Snow Ball every year, and a May Ball every other years.

Not on King’s Parade, so fewer tourists.

Cons

One of the most expensive college to live at and the food is pricey too.

Last year, their Senior Tutor stopped condoms from being included in freshers’ welcome packs.

Not near cash machines or shops.

Sidney Sussex

Established in 1596, with about 350 undergrads.

'Grammable content

'Grammable content

Pros

Right next to all the clubs, and Mainsbury’s.

Opportunity to live centrally for the duration of your degree.

Lovely big gardens, which you wouldn't necessarily spot from the street.

Cons

Size can become suffocating if you don’t get along with people as you can’t avoid seeing them on a daily basis .

Occasional noise from clubs and buskers.

Students have to live above the library in first year, which is a weird vibe.

A bit normcore – people usually forget about it.

St Catharine's

Established in 1473, with about 400 undergrads.

It's literally lopsided

It's literally lopsided

Pros

Small, so you get to know everyone really well.

Central – right next to King’s, and next to a GP.

Known for being sporty and sociable – have a Catz Corridor in Cindies and Catz Corner in Life.

Has a cheese course at formal.

Very equal gender split.

Shield and college colours are cool.

Cons

Small size means gossip.

Nobody has ever heard of it.

Not on the river so doesn't have its own punts.

Only have proper brunch on a Sunday and it’s not that great.

Not much of a garden, since it’s so small.

Second year accommodation is close to Sidgwick but far from college.

St John's

Established in 1511, with about 500 undergrads.

Caution: the architectural beauty is offset by the concentration of red chino-wearers

Caution: the architectural beauty is offset by the concentration of red chino-wearers

Pros

Great location – on King’s Parade and has a beautiful view onto the Backs. Also near the Maypole and Union.

Amazing May Ball, (the world's 7th best party, in the words of Time Magazine) – all your friends will want tickets.

Free laundry service

Fantastic bar/formal hall.

Cons

Doesn’t fly the LGBTQ flag.

It’s very big, in terms of footprint, so it takes a while to walk from Cripps to the main plodge.

The porters are unfriendly and often won’t let friends in from other colleges.

Pretty bad rep for being posh and for misogyny at swaps.

Trinity

Established in 1546, with about 600 undergrads.

Up its own arse, and with reason, to be honest

Up its own arse, and with reason, to be honest

Pros

Filthy rich – you’ll get so many grants if you want to travel or need a bursary.

Loads of Nobel Prize winners (32) – more than China, India and Australia combined.

Original and biggest May Ball.

Always tops Tompkins Table.

Cons

Difficult to get to know everyone in your year – there are over 250 undergrads per year, so it's a big college.

Doesn’t fly the LGBTQ pride flag.

Very intense academic environment.

Infamously horrible porters who throw out students from other colleges, and don't let other students come in on Saturdays even with a CamCard.

Trinity (Tit) Hall

Established in 1350, with about 400 undergrads.

Tit lol

Tit lol

Pros

Great location.

On the river.

Cheap accommodation onsite.

The Jerwood Library is very modern, but not in any way an eyesore – it's beautiful, and has a view onto the River Cam so you can take in the scenery when studying.

They have a cool wall.

Cons

Most second and some third years live further away, near hill colleges.

Kitchens are pretty basic, especially on the main college site.

If you're working in the library, the tourists going over Orgasm Bridge can be a bit distracting, if you just want to blitz out an essay.

* Please note: In our recent print edition, the Selwyn and Downing ratios for gender intake are now out of date, as was the state school intake for Emmanuel. We apologise for any confusion caused .