The Foundation Year Colleges

Being a member of a College is an important part of the Cambridge experience. Not only are Colleges places of immense beauty, providing a home away from home during your academic studies, they also provide vital pastoral and academic services.

During your time on the Foundation Year, you will be admitted into 1 of 12 participating Cambridge Colleges. As a College member, you will have the ability to use College facilities like Gyms, Cafeterias and Libraries as well as join a number of their varied societies and groups.

As part of the Foundation Year application process, you will have the opportunity to select your preference for which College you would like to join in the Foundation Year Supplementary Application Questionnaire, also known as the FYSAQ. As each College is unique in its community and benefits, it’s important for you to consider which College you think will enhance your time at Cambridge!

To get the most out of this page, we suggest setting aside around 40 minutes to allow you to take any notes and follow up with some research on the College websites.

Downing College

Set in the heart of Cambridge amongst its sprawling landscape of lawns, trees and gardens, Downing College is in perfect proximity to many University Faculties and Departments. Known as the newest of the oldest Colleges at Cambridge, Downing recently celebrated its 220th Birthday! Facilities at the College include: the Maitland Robinson Library (open 24 hours a day), the Howard Theatre and the Heong Gallery. Downing College also boasts a strong music tradition with a flourishing Chapel choir and frequent concerts and recitals. 

You can check out some 360 photography of Downing College here including seeing into the College Dining Hall and Boat House.

Fitzwilliam College

Established in 1869, one of Fitzwilliam College’s founding aims was to broaden access to the University of Cambridge. With a diverse and close-knit community, students at Fitzwilliam enjoy some of the most beautiful gardens that Cambridge Colleges have to offer. There's even an allotment that provides fresh vegetables for College meals. Also, for any history buffs out there, the centre of the College was once home to Charles Darwin’s widow, Emma Darwin née Wedgwood.

You can check out some 360 photography of Fitzwilliam College here including seeing into the Colleges's gorgeous outdoor space and Cafe.

Girton College

Originally opened as the UK’s first residential institution for the higher education of women in 1869, Girton College is well known at Cambridge for its pioneering history and stunning architecture. Now populated by equal numbers of male & female Undergraduate and Postgraduate students, Girton prides itself on offering a friendly community where no-one is anonymous. Amongst its many sporting and leisure facilities, Girton is the only Undergraduate College with a heated indoor swimming pool!

You can check out some 360 photography of Girton College here and even see into a College bedroom!

Gonville & Caius College

Housing one of the most beautiful and oldest College libraries at Cambridge, Gonville & Caius College is a great choice for students looking for a College with a unique, diverse character. With their accommodation perfectly situated for the University Library, music practice rooms and the College’s large sports ground, students may enjoy the benefits of living right in middle of Cambridge’s city centre. In addition to this, students at Gonville & Caius may also expect an intimate College experience with all College staff and student members encouraged to eat together in the dining hall frequently throughout term.

You can explore some 360 photography of Gonville & Caius here. Check out the Library mentioned above and even the incredible Sports Grounds.

Homerton College

Set away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Homerton is located on the south side of Cambridge, housing an orchard and some of the most gorgeous lawns and generous green spaces to walk in. Most of Homerton’s accommodation options are situated on their spacious Hills Road site with en-suite and shared accommodation options available. Homerton College also houses a new innovative co-curricular programme, Homerton Changemakers, which helps Homerton students plan for their futures as effective agents of positive change. 

You'll find some 360 photography of Homerton College here and you'll even be able to see the Colleges brand new Sports Grounds and the Orchard.

Lucy Cavendish College

Lucy Cavendish is well known for its historical advocation for underrepresented social groups at Cambridge. The College houses a vibrant international community, with a mission to address scientific, social and technological global challenges. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, and share these social values, perhaps Lucy Cavendish is for you! Facilities at the college include a gym, bar/café and common room, music practice facilities and dining hall, 24 hour library and self-catered accommodation.

You can find 360 photographs of Lucy Cavendish College here and some great videos too showing off life in the College.

Murray Edwards College

Murray Edwards is one of two participating Foundation Year Colleges that only accepts applications from female students. As such, the College has a proactive commitment and focus to enhancing learning and education for women. These values are reflected in its contemporary building architecture and gardens within the College. Notable alumni of Murray Edwards College include Actress Tilda Swinton, Chief Political Correspondent for BBC News Vicki Young & Author Maggie O’Farrell.

You can check out some 360 photographs of Murray Edwards here including a Lecture Theatre and the modern buildings.

Newnham College

Founded 150 years ago by a group of pioneering radicals – philosophers, campaigners, scientists & writers, Newnham College has one of the most fascinating and compelling histories amongst Cambridge’s Colleges. Newnham is a College for women, that is dedicated to providing a friendly and challenging environment for women where they may live life to their fullest potential. Amongst Newnham’s many facilities, the College also contains a well-stocked library, various eateries and a splendid public garden.

You can check out 360 photography of the College here including the cafe and some brilliant student stories.

Queens' College

Queens' College is one of the oldest Colleges at Cambridge and is home to the famous Mathematical Bridge which connects two sides of the River Cam. It is one of only two Cambridge Colleges that straddles the river.  Although Queens’ is an older college, it is known for being very open, relaxed, and friendly. The buildings of Queens’ College are also definitely worth checking out as the older buildings sit closely alongside more modern structures.

You can check out 360 photography of the College here and some great information on the College website here.

Sidney Sussex College

Sidney Sussex College was established in 1596 and is located in the city centre of Cambridge. With a small, but inclusive student body, members of Sidney Sussex are encouraged to participate in their active students’ union as well as various sports, music and drama societies within the College. Food at Sidney Sussex is well-known to be some of the best on offer at Cambridge, with award-winning College chefs.

You can check out some 360 photography of Sidney Sussex College here and even look into what a supervision might look like!

St Edmund’s College

St Edmund’s College has a diverse community at the core of its College life. With all students at the college being over the age of 21 (mature) and half of its student body coming from overseas, you gain a fascinating and intimate College experience at St Edmund’s. The College site has 335 single student rooms with nearly two thirds of these en suite. The College’s dining hall additionally offers fresh meals up to three times a day, with the option for students to also be self-catered if they so wish.

You can find 360 photography for St Edmund's College here including the grounds which highlights some of the family accommodation available.

Wolfson College

As a modern College that is exclusively for mature students, Wolfson College caters to a varied student cohort. Home to around 150 undergraduates, Wolfson offers on-site accommodation for its students with a variety of rooms available, including singles, en suites, shared houses and family flats. The Wolfson College Students Association (WCSA) also hosts a range of social and academic events including yoga and dance classes, comedy shows, sports activities, weekly seminars, and an annual Wolfson Research Event.

You can look into Wolfson College through our 360 photography here and even check out some current student videos.

If you have read this introduction and you are still undecided on which College to select as your preference, you can always select an open application on the FYSAQ, which means that one of the Colleges will select you rather than the other way around! This will not have any impact on your application.

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing. For the most up to date information about the Cambridge Foundation Year, visit our website. Last reviewed April 2023.