What Is The Best Cambridge College For Medicine?

One of the factors to consider when applying for Medicine at Cambridge is which college do you want to spend the next few years of your life at. We look at which college is best for Medicine students.

Last Updated: 4th December 2018

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With so many different Cambridge colleges available to you, knowing which one is right for your Medicine application is important. 

A Cambridge Medicine application is an overwhelming time, but having countless college names thrown at you, it is, understandably, hard to decide which one to apply to. 

So, which Cambridge college is best for Medicine?

The Cambridge Collegiate System

Cambridge is a ‘collegiate’ university. It is made up of faculties and departments in different academic subjects and 31 colleges (29 of which accept applications for undergraduate study).

Students become a part of their college community, giving them a sense of belonging that lasts long after they graduate. As well as being a member of the university and an academic faculty/department, students also belong to a smaller college community and this system offers a huge amount of individual pastoral and academic support for each student. 

Below is a summary of the key functions of the university and the colleges, to show how they fit together:

The UniversityThe Colleges
Determines course contentAdmit undergraduate students
Organises lectures, seminars, practicals and projectsOrganise small-group teaching (supervisions)
Sets and marks examinationsAre the place where you’ll live, offering accommodation, and places to eat, socialise and meet new people
Awards degreesAre there to provide pastoral and academic support when you need it

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What Cambridge Colleges Offer Medicine?

All of the colleges are academically strong, and your course will be excellent regardless of the college you are a member. 

The college to which you apply has no bearing on the chances of gaining a place – the ratio of Interviews to places is the same across the board. Every applicant is Interviewed by at least two colleges, helping to ensure that the strength of each college’s cohort of applicants is very similar. 

But of the 31 colleges at Cambridge, which ones consider applicants for Medicine?

If you are unsure which college you want to apply for you can submit an ‘open application’ and you will be allocated to a college.

Do keep in mind that of the colleges that offer Medicine you may not be able to apply to them. Murray Edwards and Newnham are women’s only colleges for example, so do take this into consideration. 

Regardless of which college you belong to, you will be able to mix free across the colleges, you will also meet people not at your college in department and university-wide events. 

Factors to consider

The colleges are more alike than they are different, so it is hard to know what to prioritise when making an application. The first steps on how to choose a Cambridge college can be difficult no matter what subject you are applying to study.

However, especially for Medicine which has a lot of contact hours, the location of the college will have a big influence on the overall experience. You might feel, then, that the best Cambridge college for Medicine is simply the one closest to the departments.

Students will spend most of their time at the Sidgwick and Downing Sites and, later on, at the School of Clinical Medicine at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The Sidgwick and Downing sites are slightly apart from each other; the college closest to both is Queens’ College, which is about halfway between the sites and about a 7-minute walk from each.

St Catharine’s College is located conveniently in between the departments, so it could also be a great choice if you want an extra 10 minutes in bed!

When students have to go up to Addenbrooke’s, however, it is a slightly different story. Homerton College is the closest college to the hospital, at a 20-minute walk away, and it is not especially close to the centre of town where Sidgwick and Downing Sites are.

Some people will want to focus on being closer to the centre initially as they get to know the city. Plus, it means you will be closer to your first-year lectures and other amenities. Other people might just prefer the peace and space of colleges outside of the centre.

Some colleges are known for sports, especially St John’s and Jesus college for rowing. Other colleges can offer accommodation for the entire undergraduate degree, such as Robinson and Emmanuel.

Remember though it is all down to personal choice!

Also, remember that Cambridge is a small place; most of the colleges are within a 10-minute cycle ride of the departments, and even if you move out of college into a student house you still will not be very far away from anything.

Concluding thoughts

When it comes down to it, the best Cambridge college for Medicine is the one you feel is the best fit for you.

All of the colleges provide an amazing experience and education. Cambridge is a special place, and the standard of education is of the highest level. The reason there is so much debate over which college is the best is because there is no correct answer. 

Whichever one you end up they all have their own charms, and you will end up loving making it your home. 

The college you are a part of is an important factor of your time at Cambridge. Still, it does not affect the academic quality of your education, and you should not worry about ending up at a college other than the one you applied for. 

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