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Undergraduate Study


Once you've decided on a course you'd like to study, you need to consider College choice.

In your UCAS application, as well as listing Cambridge (institution code CAM C05) as one of your options in the 'Choices' section, you'll need to enter the appropriate College (campus) code.

You can either choose a particular College or, if you don’t have a preference, you can make an ‘open’ application and accept the College you are allocated to.

In both cases, your UCAS application is sent to a College and that College assesses it. Colleges treat open applicants in the same way as applicants that apply directly to them and you won’t be asked about College choice at interview.

Are some Colleges better for certain subjects?

Regardless of your College, you’ll attend the same lectures, seminars and practicals, and sit the same exams as other students on the same course. The key functions that the University (through the faculties and departments) and Colleges are responsible for are outlined in Cambridge Explained.

How to choose a College

Everyone’s reasons for choosing their College differ. Some Colleges don’t take students in all subjects so check availability for your course first (listed in Courses and Colleges fact files). Two of the Colleges (Murray Edwards and Newnham) also consider applications from female students only. Take a look at the Choosing a College and the UCAS application section below for more details.

Otherwise, you may want to consider the following points:

  • your age - three Colleges are exclusively for students aged 21 or older (mature students), and their facilities are geared accordingly
  • College size - number of students
  • type of accommodation (eg on-site or College-owned houses around the city)
  • sport and leisure facilities (eg for certain sports, performing arts etc)
  • personal preference - it just ‘feels right’

Take a look at the College profiles on this website for an idea of what each College is like and what they have to offer. Once you've done that, you may wish to:

  1. Shortlist around half a dozen.
  2. Look at their websites to get more detailed information about the features, facilities and aspects that you feel are most important to you.
  3. Get in touch with College admissions offices if you have any questions — the staff will be happy to answer your queries and advise you.
  4. Explore the Colleges on our Virtual Tour or visit a few Colleges so you can meet current students and see for yourself what it might be like to live and study there.

Don’t agonise over choosing a College. They have many more similarities than differences, and students settle in quickly and really enjoy their College, whichever that ends up being! 

How NOT to choose a College

  • Travelling time -  Cambridge is a compact (and fairly flat!) city so wherever you are, it’s easy to travel between your College and your department on foot, by bike or by bus.
  • Age of the College - your student experience isn’t dependent on the age of a College. They all provide the facilities and support you’d expect and each has its own traditions and history.
  • Specialisms of College staff -  the research specialisms of a College’s staff won’t dictate what you can study or guarantee you’ll be supervised by them. You’ll attend supervisions at another College if that’s where the relevant supervisor is based.               

Choosing a College and the UCAS application

Once you've made your choice of College, or decided on an open application, there's another element of the UCAS application you should take into consideration - the gender identity element of the personal details section. 

Two of our Colleges (Murray Edwards and Newnham) accept applications only from female applicants. Both Colleges have further details on their websites, including their policy for open applications and pooled applicants.