Student Life


Successful candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine are said to have kept the Act.

Amateur Dramatic Club –

  1. the student run society
  2. the Theatre itself on Park Street. A late night show is a great alternative to a night out, and the ADC bar always has a great vibe
Cambridge’s world-famous teaching hospital. See also: Old Addenbrooke’s.
Affiliated student
A graduate of another university who can take the Cambridge B.A. degree in two years rather than three.
A former student of the University; an Old Cantabrigian. Plural alumni.
Arch & Anth, or Anth & Arch
Archaeology and Anthropology, and anyone studying it.
  1. in opposition to Sciences, the studies of the works of Man (law, language, architecture, music).
  2. A theatre in Peas Hill, home to the University Marlowe Society’s performances.
Arts School
A university building on Bene’t Street containing the Scientific Periodicals Library, the Philosophical Society, and lecture rooms used for mathematics teaching.
Anglia Ruskin University, another university in central Cambridge, just opposite the Grafton Centre.
Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic Studies, or someone who studies this subject.
An assistant to an Examiner.
Annual check of a College’s finances.
Person responsible for making grants or awarding scholarships, exhibitions, or studentships from certain funds.


A Bachelor of Arts.
B.A. status
A graduate student who does not hold a Cambridge degree has B.A. Status in the university. Such a student wears a B.A. gown without strings.
Bachelor of Surgery.
A person holding the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Such persons are colloquially called B.A.s.
Bachelor of Arts
obtained by obtaining honours in sufficient Tripos examinations and by keeping nine terms.
Bachelor of Divinity
This is a higher degree, so senior that it outranks a Doctor of Philosophy. Abbreviated B.D.
Bachelor of Medicine
Apart from Divinity, Medicine is the highest ranking bachelors’ degree of the University, awarded to those who are qualified to practise in the profession of medicine. Abbreviated M.B. See also: First M.B., Second M.B., Final M.B.
Bachelor of Surgery
A degree awarded immediately to all who pass the Final M.B. examination to enable them to practise in the profession of medicine without having to wait for a Congregation at which to take the M.B. proper. They usually take the M.B. within the next year. Abbreviated B.Chir.
Backs, the
The area of Cambridge where the river goes through and round the back of colleges. Definitely try and go down to the backs on a sunny day for a picnic, it’s a great escape from work!
A lock on the River Cam. The sport of rowing is normally confined between Jesus Lock and Baitsbite Lock.
The draw deciding one’s position within a year group in choosing accommodation for the coming year. The method of selection varies between Colleges.
A small piece of academic dress worn at the collar by male graduands.
Bank Holidays
Public holidays not enjoyed by Cambridge students. Lectures, supervisions and practicals still occur on these days (and on Saturdays too for some subjects such as NatSci and law, so weekends don’t exist for Cambridge students either).
Small winged mammals, of which there is a colony in Queens’ College. By extension, the dramatic society of Queens’.
A student’s account with his College, especially for buttery purchases, and board and lodging. Also known as one’s College bill. Generally paid for in arrears.
Baxter, the
The internal inter-College academic league table, available for Colleges and departments of the University only, but can be calculated yourself using the formula.
A college cleaner who cleans your room and college facilities.
A single room combining the function of bedroom, study, and living room.
During the four days of bumps, if a crew bumps every day, its crew members receive blades (oars) for the glory. Also see the opposite, “spoons”, below.
A coloured jacket, specifically and originally the scarlet jackets worn by the Lady Margaret Boat Club.
Someone who plays for a University sports first team.
In the university, a general term for a committee which is grander than a Syndicate, but not as grand as a Council. Each Faculty is governed by a Faculty Board.
Having one’s name “enscribed upon the boards of a College” defines one as a resident member of that College and the University; this function is also performed by the College Gate List.
A student taking part in the sport of rowing, also known in America (confusingly) as crew.
  1. A rowing competition between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
  2. A student drinking relay, conducted between two sides of a dining table, whereby each person in turn has to stand up, consume the contents of their wine-glass, invert it over their head, and sit down again, before the next person on their side does likewise. The side which finishes first wins. There are no prizes.
The festal academic head-dress for Doctors.
Book Grants
Many Colleges give grants towards the cost of your textbooks.
A college party/disco event, often in the college bar, that is usually themed. Your first bop will be the “Back to School” bop in freshers’ week.
A hostel, now defunct, formed to enable up to seven severely disabled students to attend Cambridge. Its function is now performed by the Colleges.
The most talked of Cambridge rowing race. A solution to the difficulty created by the narrow River Cam to a side by side race. All crews start at the same time, with a length and a half of clear water in between each boat. One wins the race by “bumping” (i.e. making physical contact with) the boat in front. If neither happens, you are said to row over. Currently two are held each year, one in Lent week 6 (Lent Bumps) and one in May week (May Bumps, or Mays). A significantly dangerous pastime, and therefore an excellent spectator sport.
To chunder, to chuck, to throw up, to be sick, to vomit. Ofttimes, as a result of excessive drinking.
  1. a College administrative officer. See also: Senior Bursar, Junior Bursar, Domestic Bursar.
  2. a student in receipt of a Bursary.
Bursars’ Committee
The intercollegiate committee of College Bursars.
Means-tested financial aid offered by all Colleges and the University to reduce the burden of tuition fees or living costs. Cambridge has a policy of not letting anyone leave due to financial need or difficulty.
The place in a College where students can purchase provisions.
A College fellowship of lower status than an official Fellow.


C Sunday
A Sunday in Lent term where everyone drinks on Jesus Green.
Gonville and Caius College. Pronounced “keys”.
The river in Cambridge, formerly called the Granta. A tributary of the River Ouse. Too narrow for conventional rowing races, hence the development of bumps and heads races.
A market town on the edge of the East Anglian fenlands, and formerly the limit of trading navigation on the river Cam. Now a tourist trap. Home to the best university in the world.
Cambridge blue
A pale blue, Pantone 284.
Cambridge bubble
This is the feeling that your whole life suddenly exists only inside a bubble around Cambridge, with the outside world feeling very distant. This is felt most strongly in your first term, and you’ll often hear people talking about the effect of the bubble.
Cambridge end
The flat gun-deck of a punt, which is traditionally used by the punter in Cambridge.
Cambridge Union, the
Or the Union. Primarily a debating society, also organises many other events and houses many great facilities. Events include talks from famous speakers ranging from global political leaders to powerful businessmen, to celebrities from the entertainment business; and of course the regular ents such as free Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s, wine tasting, Ann Summers Party, etc. Not the same as Cambridge University Students’ Union.
Another name for Cambridge. Now only used in, the website for Cambridge alumni. Students from the other place call Cambridge students “tabs”. A “Cantabrigian” is the correct name for a Cambridge graduate (alumnus), just as an “Oxonian” is someone who studied at Oxford.
Academical head-dress, see also Square.
St Catharine’s College.
Catz Corner
Area of the dance floor in Life predominantly full of Catz people (also very, very sweaty).
Catz Corridor
Area of the dance floor in Cindies predominantly full of Catz people.
The University Department of Physics, at the West Cambridge Site. Nothing to do with Lucy Cavendish College.
The former Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, now known as Anglia Ruskin. They still row as CCAT
Posh name for underground College bars, e.g. at Clare and King’s.
Certificate of Advanced Study
Usually, the qualification obtained in the fourth year of a four-year undergraduate course if the student qualified for a B.A. after three years.
See St. Chad’s.
The University post occupied by a Professor.
The Chancellor was originally the voted representative of the organisation who held an active role within the University. Today the Chancellor is the titular head of the University, who has no executive duties any more and is essentially a fund-raising manager and could represent the University’s interests in court. Currently HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.
A building found in all Colleges (except New Hall and Homerton); formerly attendance at chapel was compulsory.
CICCU (pronounced Kick You)
Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union.
A club in Cambridge, with Wednesday night being very popular. A particular favourite at Catz – see ‘Catz Corridor’. It changed its official name from “Cindies” to the current “Ballare” during the summer of 2003.
Citi 4
This is the replacement to the old number 14 bus, which follows the same route through the City centre to the West Cambridge site, but then continues to Cambourne. University Card holders currently have to pay full rate on this service, unlike on the Uni4 service which runs on a similar route. It runs every 20 minutes on weekdays.
Clare Novice Regatta
Novice rowing regatta held by Clare College Boat Club at the end of November.
Clare Novices
A rowing competition.
There are four grades of academic honours associated with the Tripos exams—one’s marks at University, in other words. In order of most to least desirable, they are: First Class, Second Class First Half, Second Class Second Half, Third Class.
The list of successful candidates of a University examination, usually divided into Classes, and published by being posted outside the Senate House.
Larger-scale supervisions, typically from five to twenty students. Generally used in numerate subjects to cover topics quickly where more interaction than a lecture is required but a supervision would be a waste of resources.
Clinical School
The university clinical teaching department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Closed scholarship
Now extinct, a scholarship which could only be awarded to candidates satisfying certain conditions, most commonly tied to specified schools.
Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Situated on Wilberforce Road, near Girton College’s Wolfson Court and Churchill College.
The centre of your student life. Cambridge is made up of a collection of Colleges, which serve as halls of residence, academic bases and centres of student support. The University only has an administrative and co-ordination role in setting the exams and subject syllabuses. College provides everything a student would need, especially tutorials/supervisions and friendship, except lectures, which are organised by the subject departments. It is also the basis of traditions and rivalries, and forms a central part of many students’ sense of identity.
College Parents
Two students in 2nd year allocated to you to help you settle in.
College Union
At Queens’, an umbrella organisation of the JCR, MCR and United Clubs.
Colleges Committee
The intercollegiate committee of Heads of Houses.
Combination Room
Common room, as in Junior Combination Room (for all students), Middle Combination Room (for graduate students), Senior Combination Room (for Fellows). Hence JCR, MCR, SCR. Hence also the committees or representative organisations responsible for the rooms. The expression JCR may according to context refer either to the room or the organisation.
Come up
To come to Cambridge, e.g. at the beginning of term, or at the start of one’s career here.
An extremely obscure University Officer, who “shall perform such duties as have heretofore been customary”.
A student who is not a scholar, and who therefore pays for his tuition and commons. Nowadays all students start out as commoners. Pensioner means the same as commoner.
An entitlement to food subsidised by the College; the food so subsidised.
Computer Science, or someone who studies this subject.
Computing Service
See CUCS below.
A meeting of the Regent House at which University business is transacted or degrees awarded.
Short for Corpus Christi College. People from Corpus are called Corpuscles.
  1. At many Colleges (but not Queens’), an executive committee of the Governing Body. Usually established where the Governing Body is too large to transact business effectively.
  2. In the university, a general term for a committee which is grander than a Board. Each School is governed by a Council. The Council of the Senate is even grander, and the most important Council of all; it submits Graces to the Regent House.
Colleges in Cambridge are built to a loosely-standardised layout, with a central square of grass enclosed on three or four sides by buildings. The area between the buildings is known as a court, or a quad (more at Oxford than Cambridge).
(Rowing). The small one who yells at all the rowers and steers but doesn’t have an oar. Supposed to be motivating the rowers by abusing them.
Decorative strips on the undergraduate gown of St John’s College.
Computing Service (also UCS)
Computer Science Tripos.
  1. Cambridge University
  2. Christian Union.
Cambridge University Boat Club.
Cambridge University Conservative Association.
Cambridge University Computing Services. Situated at the back of New Museums Site on Pembroke Street. In charge of the University’s IT services and offers university members free courses in IT and computing.
Cambridge University Engineering Department.
Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society.
The Cambridge University Lawn Tennis Club. The sport played by the CULTC is what is today known as tennis.
The unfortunately-named Cambridge University Music Society.
Cambridge University Officers Training Corps; Cambridge’s equivalent to American ROTC’s.
Cambridge University Press, the publishing arm of the University.
Inter-college sports knockout competitions.
The Cambridge University Real Tennis Club. The sport played by the CURTC is what was known as tennis before lawn tennis came along; this sport has far more complicated rules than lawn tennis, is played strictly indoors, and is a throwback to more genteel times.
Cambridge University Students’ Union.


(pronounced dampt) Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.
A College officer responsible for disciplinary issues.
From the Latin gradus, meaning step, status or rank within the university. Not necessarily a mark of education.
Degree Committee
Subcommittee of each Faculty Board, determines the award of higher degrees.
Part of the university devoted to one academic subject; see also: Faculty.
Rhyming slang for a 2:2 degree class, after Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Lodgings outside College; abbreviated form of diggings.
Director of Studies
A College officer (usually a Fellow) responsible for oversight of an undergraduate’s academic studies, and for appointing supervisors for the student.
The ancient, obscure, and rarely-used power of the University to demand that persons in statu pupillari boycott a tradesman in Town; such a boycott would mean commercial failure for the trader in question.
Discussion of the Senate
A formal opportunity for Senior Members to express opinions on proposals of university committees before final decisions are taken; such final decisions usually lead to a Grace.
A subdivision of the College’s excess income paid to each Fellow at the end of each year to supplement his stipend.
Division of Term
A date half-way through Term (not Full Term). Of little practical significance, though many university bureaucratic formalities have a deadline of the Division of Term.
Abbreviation for Domina, used in front of a surname.
  1. In the University, a higher degree than Master. From the Latin, meaning learned.
  2. Outside of the University, a courtesy title accorded to those practising in the medical profession. Carries no weight whatsoever in the University.
Doctor of Philosophy
The lowest degree of Doctor in the University; effectively, an apprenticeship examination for the trade of academic.
Doctor of xxxx (where xxxx is anything but Philosophy)
A higher doctorate. People holding these degrees are really hot stuff.
Domestic Bursar
What some Colleges call their Junior Bursar.
Dominus (m), Domina (f)
Latin for bachelor, used as a title before a surname to indicate the person’s degree.
The main buildings and land of a College, as distinct from any outlying hostels and houses, or estates.
A colloquial manner of referring to a Fellow.
DoS or DOS
Director of Studies – a college Fellow who guides you through your degree, monitoring your progress and offering help and advice. You’ll usually meet with your DoS at the start and end of each term.
Double First
First Class Honours in both Parts of a Tripos, or in different Triposes.
Downing Site
A university site on Downing Street and Tennis Court Road.
DPMMS (pronounced DPM-squared-S)
Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
Abbreviation for Doctor, used in front of a surname.
Drinking Societies
Most Colleges of Cambridge have at least one drinking society of its own – some have one for each year. In the years when drinking was regarded to be “illegal” by the University, these were the underground societies which gathered the students to drink “merrily” behind the officials. Since drinking has become openly acceptable, those have become register societies to organise formal swaps and cocktail evenings.
Abbreviation for Dominus, used in front of a surname.


The third of three Terms in the academic year, between Easter and midsummer; also known as Exam Term.
Easter term
The last term of an academic year, also known as the exam term. Runs from mid April to the end of June. Ends with May Week.
Electrical and Information Sciences Tripos
A retired Professor, Reader or Fellow.
Emmanuel College.
Emma Dashes
A rowing competition.
Emma Sprints
Novice rowing race held by Emmanuel College Boat Club at the end of November. Crews row in fancy dress.
Entrance Scholar
An extinct form of scholarship awarded after competitive examination.
The Cambridge slang for “entertainments”. Refers to the event being organised, such as Bops. Also refers to the entertainment officers (ents officers) on the JCRc or MCRc.
Erg, or Ergo
Short for “ergometer”, an indoor rowing machine.
Esquire Bedell
A University ceremonial officer (c.f. Beadle).
Estate Management
The maintenance department of the University.
Estates Bursar
Appointment in some Colleges; the holder is in charge of the College’s land and properties.
The network access point standard for shared disk space, College printers and the Internet. Used to refer to the plug on your computer which the Ethernet cable plugs into on one end, and into the wall socket on the other end.
The Cambridge Hospital, a private hospital operated by Nuffield Health.
Someone appointed by the University to conduct an examination, Tripos or otherwise.
Example Sheets
Mainly encounterd by Mathmos, engineers and NatScis. Worksheets which are worked through and handed into the supervisors to be discussed in supervisions.
Excess Residence
Staying in College outside the period paid for by termly room rent.
Permission to leave Cambridge overnight, or at the end of term. See also: Rediit.
An award from a College of lower status, and less value, than a Scholarship.
A student holding an Exhibition.
External Examiner
An examiner appointed from another university, to ensure that degree standards are consistent between universities.


A number of University Departments gathered together for administrative purposes. See also: Schools.
Faculty Board
The committee which administers a Faculty.
The rowing race at the end of Michaelmas Term, organised by Jesus College Boat Club. Total length around 4.2k for senior crews and 2.7k for novice crews.
A better than usual dinner in a College.
The four Theological Colleges associated with, but not Colleges of, Cambridge University: Ridley Hall (Anglican), Wesley House (Methodist), Westcott House (Anglican), Westminster College (United Reformed).
A senior member of a college, who often teaches in the subject in which they specialise.
Fellow Commoner
Formerly, a rich undergraduate, often a nobleman, who dined at High Table with the Fellows (i.e. he took his Commons with the Fellows). Nowadays, often used to mean a form of College membership which gives SCR membership without quite being a Fellowship, and which entails no teaching or duty, nor confers any privilege.
  1. University cricket ground, located behind Kelsey Kerridge sports centre.
  2. The University Health Service.
A club in Cambridge. A bit more edgy than most of the others.
Final M.B.
The third part of the M.B. examination, taken after postgraduate clinical training.
Anyone taking their Final Tripos exams at the end of the academic year.
The degree-awarding examinations at the end of the degree course.
Financial Board
Former name of the Finance Committee, the University committee which controls finance; the administration serving that committee; its offices in the Old Schools.
First Class Honours.
First and Third
The Boat Club of Trinity College.
First M.B.
The first part of the M.B. examinations; usually students are exempt from this examination if they have the appropriate A-levels.
Fisher House
The Catholic Chaplaincy to the university.
Fitzwilliam College.
A cake shop.
The Fitzpatrick Hall at Queens’ College.
circulars to the members of Regent House attempting to persuade the recipients either to placet or non placet a Grace.
A university drama society devoted mainly to comic revues.
Formal Hall
A relatively cheap four-course meal held in hall – bring your own wine. Gowns have to be worn over smart attire.
Formal Swap
Societies may invite each other to a formal hall at a College. A great social event and especially active between sports societies and drinking societies.
The body of people in whose name the College acts, as in: The President, Fellows and Scholars of Queens’ College.
Foundation Scholars
Those scholars who constitute part of the Foundation, as distinct from Entrance Scholars.
New students admitted to the University of Cambridge. Technically includes only students who have not yet been matriculated but typically refers to all first years.
Freshers Fair
A.k.a. Societies Fair. Organised by CUSU and normally held in Kelsey Kerridge sports centre on the Tuesday and Wednesday just before lectures start. Where hundreds of University and College organisations, societies and sports teams try to recruit new freshers and generally new members. Lots of businesses have stalls there too and it generally becomes a massive freebies’ heaven.
Sexist term for female Fresher.
Acronym for ‘For the Wheel’ – a phrase used to express support and love for Catz.
A village outside Cambridge; the mental hospital there.
Full Term
A period of 60 days within Term (53 days in the case of Easter Full Term) within which most university and College teaching takes place. Full Terms always begin on a Tuesday and end on a Friday.


The nickname given to the Greek Kebab shop named The Gardenias on Rose Crescent. Much beloved by the Cambridge student community.
Gate Hours
The times of night during which students must remain within the confines of College, or their lodgings, in order to Keep Term.
Gate List
Formal list of all members of a College in residence.
A now rare punishment whereby a student is confined to College and not allowed out into town.
Acronym for ‘God Damn Bloody Oxford’, used to express support for the Cambridge team in a Varsity match or academic rivalry between the two universities. Almost pointless as we are clearly superior.
General Admission
The main degree awarding Congregations in late June.
General Board
The university committee concerned with academic affairs (administers the Schools, Faculties, and Departments); the administration serving that committee; its offices in the Old Schools.
A term which it used to be possible to apply to students, as in a bedmaker referring to “my gentlemen”, or as in the College regulations of 50 years ago: “In order to minimize Sunday labour for College servants gentlemen are required to vacate their bedrooms not later than 9.30 a.m. on Sundays”.
A little village several miles north of Cambridge town, home to Girton College (half an hour cycle ride from the city centre).
Go down
To leave Cambridge, e.g. at the end of term, or at the end of one’s career.
Laboratory on the New Museums Site, part of Quaternary Research.
Governing Body
The ultimate authority within a College, consisting of most of the Fellows.
  1. Academic dress. Undergraduate gowns differ according to College, and are quite small. The higher your degree, the longer your gown gets. In particular, the sleeves get longer. Must be worn on formal occasions such as the formal hall in some more traditional Colleges; everyone has to wear them for matriculation except at King’s, and graduation.
  2. In opposition to Town, a colloquial term for the university and all its members, as in Town-Gown rivalry.
  1. A prayer, usually in Latin, said by a Scholar before Hall, and by a Fellow after Hall. Exact details of who says what vary from College to College.
  2. A legislative bill published by the university, to be approved by a vote of the Regent House.
  1. graduate student
  2. graduand
  3. Town pejorative slang for a university student
Grad Pad
Officially known as the University Centre, situated at the Granta Place, just around the corner from Mill Lane. A central building for graduates mainly, but welcomes any members of the University.
A person who is about to graduate.
  1. (noun) A person who already has a first degree.
  2. (verb) To progress to a degree higher than the one currently held, if any.
Graduate Student
The affectionate term for the seemingly ‘elderly’ students on graduate courses (Ph.D., M.Phil., certain Diplomas). They have great formals! To be distinguished from Postgraduate Student.
Grafton Centre
One of Cambridge’s shopping centres, situated on East Road. Has Vue cinema and restaurants.
  1. An alternative name for the river Cam. Usefully applied to distinguish the upper river from the rest.
  2. Formerly a famous student magazine.
  3. A project of the University to lay communications ducts and fibre optic cables between all Colleges and Departments.
  4. A pub on Newnham Road, next to Darwin College. Many events in freshers’ week end there.
Great Bridge
The smallish bridge carrying Bridge Street over the river. See also: Small Bridge.
Great Court Run
An attempt to run round the outer path of Great Court, Trinity College, during the time it takes for the clock to strike twelve. Significantly difficult, but usually made more so by the contestants all being drunk at the time.
Great St Mary’s
Parish church opposite the Old Schools, used for university ceremonies before the Senate House was built.
Obsolete slang word for a walk, especially for exercise.
The offices, on the Market Square, of the Cambridge City Council.
Students’ kitchen areas.


Library of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology, in Downing Street.
Half Blue
A Blue in certain minor sports.
The tow-path alongside the Lower River.
Dining Hall. Opens at 6pm every day for dinner, and 12:30pm for lunch. If you head down to hall, there’ll always be someone you know to eat with!
The Hawks’ Club is the club of male blues. A “hawk” refers to a student who is a blues player.
Hawks Club
Private university club, for men who have been awarded blues. Formerly they had rooms at the Pitt Club. See also Ospreys.
  1. A form of rowing race where competitors row individually and are timed over a fixed distance.
  2. A collective noun for Masters of Colleges, as in: Heads of Houses. See Master, President, Provost, Mistress, Warden.
A lecture room on the New Museums Site.
High Cross
University site on the Madingley Road.
High Steward
An obscure University Officer, whose duties are defined as “the customary duties of his office’”. Deputises for the Chancellor when that post is vacant.
High Table
The table in Hall at which Fellows dine.
Higher Degree
Any degree ranking higher than a Bachelor.
Higher Doctorate
Any degree ranking higher than a Doctor of Philosophy.
East Anglian term meaning little more than “place”, as in Market Hill, Peas Hill, places which are noticeably flat.
Hill, the/Castle Hill
Generally referred to the tiny hillock on Castle Street leading up to Huntingdon Road, where Fitz and New Hall are found. Originated because Cambridge is generally flat and it is an easy job to cycle around, “up the hill” becomes a lot more hard work in comparison.
A Cambridge carrier of the 17th century whose policy in offering choice of horses to his clients was later emulated by Henry Ford in respect of colours of cars.
Hobson’s Conduit
Streams of water running in gullies beside some streets in Cambridge. Hobson the carrier was involved in these works, but the story that they were to provide water for horses might be legendary.
  1. Classifications of success in Tripos examinations. Honours may be First Class, Second Class, Third Class. The Second Class is often divided into the Upper Division and the Lower Division, as in 2-1 or 2-2.
  2. The better type of B.A. degree. Cambridge honours degrees are not classified.
Academic dress which can be worn only by graduates. The colour and material of the hood identify the wearer’s degree. Hoods are worn only on defined occasions or in defined places, such as chapel, or upon admission to a degree.
A lecture room on the New Museums Site.
In modern usage, a College residential building outside the main College buildings, or domus. Before the foundation of Colleges, hostels for students existed in their own right, as unendowed institutions.
A College, as in Heads of Houses, or as in “This House does not indulge in post-prandial histrionics.”
House of Residence
An institution recognised by the University as a place additional to the Colleges, Approved Foundations, and Approved Societies, where students may keep term without special permission to live out of College. Currently recognised are: Ridley Hall, Wesley House, Westcott House, Westminster College. See also: Federation.
History and Philosophy of Science.
Human, Social and Political Sciences.
Hyde Park Corner
The junction of Lensfield Road, Regent Street, Gonville Place, Hills Road.


Inter-College Mail Service. Free internal mail service between the Colleges for any member of the university to use.
A process by which a graduate of the University of Oxford or of the University of Dublin (Trinity College) may be admitted to a Cambridge degree equivalent to the highest degree held at either of those universities.
An authorised break from study, typically until the end of an academic year or for a full year. Intermission may be granted for medical or non-medical reasons.
Institute of Astronomy



The Junior Combination Room.

  1. the body of Catz undergraduate students
  2. the Catz students’ union (also called the JCR Committee), which represents Catz undergrads
  3. the public lounge/common room within a College where undergraduates relax and socialise.
St. John’s College.
Judge Institute
University building of the Department of Management Studies, in the former Old Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
June Event
A more modern version of the May Ball, held in May Week. Generally less expensive and of shorter duration, but just as fun. An approach started by Kings College with their King’s Affair, and is now taken up by several Cambridge Colleges, such as Trinity Hall’s June Event.
Junior Bursar
A College officer responsible for the buildings and services. A harmless drudge.
Junior Fellow
The Fellow who has been a Fellow for the least time, and is assigned various menial duties.
Junior Member
A member (of College, or of the university) who is in statu pupillari.


Kanthack & Nuttall
Library of the Department of Pathology.
As in Keep Term, to sleep overnight within three miles of Great St Mary’s Church for the requisite number (59 for Michaelmas and Lent, 52 for Easter) of nights within Term. An essential qualification for many degrees.
Keeping Room
In a set, the room which is not the bedroom; the living-room and study.
Kelsey Kerridge
The central Cambridge sports centre.
Kettle’s Yard
An art gallery on Castle Hill.
King Street Run
The feat of consuming in as short a time as possible one pint of beer at every public house in King Street. Now much easier than it used to be.
Kitchen Fixed Charge, or KFC
Most Colleges (at Undergraduate level at least) charge a Kitchen Fixed Charge. This goes towards the subsidised College canteen and kitchen facilities and utilities.
An area of Cambridge largely demolished to make way for the Grafton Shopping Centre.
King’s Parade.


Lady Margaret
The Boat Club of St John’s College (LMBC).
Lady Mitchell
Lecture hall on the Sidgwick Site.
Lady Superintendent
Term used in some Colleges (no longer at Queens’) to refer to the person in charge of the bedmakers. Now called Housekeeper.
Lammas Land
Grazing land between Newnham Village and Cambridge proper.
LBGT, or LesBiGayTrans
Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender/Transexual society. A community openly accepted at Cambridge. There is a JCR post available in most Colleges which represents and looks after the welfare of this community.
The inter-College league match run in Michaelmas, available in many sports.
League Tables
The inter-College league tables which rank Colleges by the proportion of people gaining a certain class of degree. See “Baxter Table” above and “Tompkins Table” below, two examples of these tables which use different methods to rank the Colleges.
An academic appointment in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, usually of a native foreign language speaker.
The most common university academic appointment, having both teaching and research obligations.
Lensfield Road
University site on Lensfield Road, location of the Chemistry Department.
The second of three terms in the academic year, between Christmas and Easter (January–March).
Lent Races
The inter-collegiate bumping races held in the Lent Term.
Lent Term
The second term of an academic year, runs from mid January to mid March.
Lent Races.
Licensed Lodgings
Accommodation in the town deemed by the university to be suitable for students to reside in without special permission. Now extinct.
A club in Cambridge. Especially popular on Sunday nights. Often worth going to Life at 10pm when it opens to get “stamped”, then head back to Catz and return to Life at about 11:30pm – a stamp will allow you to skip the big queues at 11:30.
Life Fellow
Formerly, a Fellow who was entitled to a set in College and commons for life. Species extinct at Queens’ and rare at other Colleges. Now an honorific title. Some Colleges call them Emeritus Fellows.
A voluntary counselling-by-telephone service run by students.
Lion Yard
A shopping centre and car park, part of which was formerly the yard of the Lion inn.
Little Hall
Lecture room at the Sidgwick Site.
Living Out
Not living in College. Usually due to not being able to get a room in College.
The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
Lady Margaret Boat Club.
Local Exams
The Local Examinations Syndicate is the Cambridge schools examination board, running GCSEs and A-levels.
According to context, may mean Porters’ Lodge or President’s Lodge, Master’s Lodge, etc.
Lodgings Syndicate
Former name for the accommodation agency run by the university, now called the Accommodation Syndicate.
Long Vacation
The vacation over summer between Easter and Michaelmas Terms.
Long Vacation Period of Residence
(colloquially Long Vac Term) a fourth period of teaching during the Long Vacation, taken by a minority of undergraduates. Almost extinct.
Lower River
That part of the river Cam below Jesus Lock, where the rowing takes place. Can also be loosely applied to the Middle River, especially in opposition to the Upper River.
Lucy Cavendish College.


See Master of Arts.
M.A. Status
A status achieved by a graduate student at age 24. Such a student may wear the M.A. gown without strings.
Bachelor of Medicine
Madingley Hall
The home of university’s Department of Continuing Education, formerly the Department of Extra-Mural Studies.
Lady Margaret Boat Club.
Magister (m), Magistra (f)
Latin for Master.
The St Margaret Society of Queens’, the College music society.
(more common at Oxford than Cambridge) a member of College staff with oversight of domestic or catering arrangements.
Market Square
Found in the town centre, in front of the city’s Guild Hall.
Marlay Curator
Post also held by the Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum.
A university ceremonial officer.
The library of the Faculty of Economics and Politics.
The name for official responsible for discipline in some Colleges.
  1. At most Colleges (but not Queens’), the head of the College.
  2. At Queens’, the vocative case of President.
  3. In the university, originally the holder of a degree of Master of Arts, traditionally the licence to teach students, as used in the corporate title The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge. Colloquially called M.A.s. The term Masters in the corporate title now includes the holders of any Master’s or Doctor’s degree, and Bachelors of Divinity.
Master of Arts
A degree higher than a B.A. and lower than any Doctor. In medieval times obtained after studying the Quadrivium; now obtainable by any Cambridge Bachelor of Arts six clear years after matriculation.
Mat & Met
Materials Science and Metallurgy (formerly Met & Mat) .
Mathematical Bridge
A popular, but erroneous, name for the bridge over the Cam at Queens’.
Mathematical Bridge, The
The Wooden Bridge (real name) linking the two parts of Queens’ College. Legend has it (told by the tour guides) that Sir Issac Newton built the bridge without a single nail or screw; then the students and fellows of the College dissembled it and were unable to put it back together. Legend in this case is unfortunately untrue. The bridge was built in 1749 by James Essex the Younger (1722–1784) to the design of William Etheridge (1709–1776). Sir Issac Newton died in 1727 and hence has nothing to do with the bridge. The bridge was then rebuilt to the same design in 1866 and 1905.
Someone who studies Mathematics.
(verb) to become a member of the University.
Admission into a university or college. To ‘matriculate’ means to be accepted into Cambridge University. Matriculation, or ‘matric’ dinner is the first formal hall affair of term for Freshers with a photograph taken the next morning.
A lecture room on the New Museums Site.
May Ball
The end of year ball held by many Colleges in May Week.
May Balls
Periods of conspicuous consumption and self-indulgence held in the second half of May Week
May Races
The bumping races held in the first half of May Week.
May Week
One of the best weeks of the year full of balls and garden parties, after exams, in June. The light at the end of the exam term tunnel. So called because it used to be in May before exams started.
May Races
The Middle Combination Room. Like the JCR, but for graduate students.
The first of three terms in the academic year, between October and Christmas.
(as in Middle Combination Room) appertaining to the graduate students of the College.
Middle River
That part of the river Cam from the mill races down to Jesus Lock.
There were formerly three mills in Cambridge at the limit of navigation from the sea. King’s Mill and Bishop’s Mill stood side by side between the end of Mill Lane and Laundress Green. They were demolished in the 1920s and only the two mill races remain. Newnham Mill is now Sweeney Todd’s restaurant. The public house called The Mill faces the site of the former King’s and Bishop’s Mills.
Mill Lane
Site of the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms (for PPSIS and IB Maths amongst others) and the Careers Service. Parallel to Silver Street and opposite Pembroke College.
Mill Road
Other side of Cambridge town to Mill Lane, housing lots of students living out. Lots of food shops, Kelsey Kerridge and Grafton Centre are nearby. Home of a “proper chip shop”, i.e. one that sells proper chunky chips, not the crap you get in town.
Min & Pet
Mineralogy and Petrology.
At Girton College, the head of the College.
Mitchams Corner
The junction of Victoria Avenue and Chesterton Road.
Modern and Medieval Languages.
A building in the New Museums Site.
Motor Proctor
University officer responsible for issuing motor vehicle permits to persons in statu pupillari.
Abbreviation for Magister, used in front of a surname. Properly, students are not qualified to use this title. This distinction is still observed in the names painted over the oaks of sets.
Mullard Radio Astronomy Laboratory.
Medical Research Council; their laboratories in Cambridge.
Medical Sciences Tripos.


Napier Shaw
The library of Meteorology in the Cavendish Laboratory.
(late 1970s student slang) a person who over-works and under-plays (Not A Real Gentleman).
Natural Sciences, or someone studying it (since the early 1980s). Pronounced ‘natski’, as the “Sci” is short for Latin “Scientia”. Covers physical and biological sciences, respectively called PhysNatSci and BioNatSci.
Natural Science
Term embracing all of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth Sciences, Material Sciences.
New Museums
A university site off Free School Lane and Pembroke Street.
New Museums Site
A main lecture and department site for most first year lectures and houses the University Computing Service and several scientific departments.
Newnham Regatta
A rowing competition.
Newnham Short Course
The rowing race in Lent Week 3, organised by Newnham College Boat Club.
Newton Trust Bursary
A University-wide bursary scheme set up by Trinity College in an attempt to use its wealth to help the entire University. Works by contributing to a percentage of an individual College’s Newton Trust Bursary fund taking account of the College’s finance, and the College contributes the rest. Trinity College itself does not receive any contribution from this fund and contributes 100% under this scheme.
Non placet
An objection to a Grace.
Natural Sciences Tripos.
Non-University Teaching Officer; a full-time teaching Fellow with no university post.


Where a set has two outer doors, the outer door of the two. See also: sport.
Old Addenbrooke’s
The former site of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Trumpington Street, now a university site.
Old Schools
The buildings used in former times for university teaching, in which the administrative offices of the University are now housed.
Old Syndics Building
University building at the Press Site.
Olly, olly
Spectator’s cry of support at a rowing race, as in “Olly, olly, Lady Maggie”.
Open Application
An application which does not specify a first-choice College, which results in the applicant being allocated a College by the central Admissions Office (normally one with lower application rate in your chosen subject).
Open scholarship
One which was not closed.
In the Mathematics Tripos, a grade of pass. A Senior Optime is equivalent to Second Class Honours; a Junior Optime is equivalent to Third Class Honours.
University officer whose main duty is to present candidates for honorary degrees.
Internal University legislation, made under powers granted by Statutes, enacted by Regent House voting on a Grace. The current edition of Statutes and Ordinances runs to 1153 pages.
  1. A classification of success in a Tripos examination below Honours, and just above outright failure. Formerly known as a Special.
  2. A type of Bachelor of Arts degree conferred upon a student who has not obtained sufficient honours in Tripos examinations to qualify for an Honours Degree, yet is not unworthy of a degree.
Organ Scholarship
Most College have one or two Organ Scholars in residence each year. They are chosen by competitive audition in September when they apply. Standard of organ playing and sight reading have to be high-between Grade 8 and diploma level. To be an Organ Scholar in most Colleges it means that you’d play the organ for services, direct the College choir and organise some sort of music society. Anyone can apply to Organ Scholarships in August before the main application deadline.
The female version of the Hawks.
Female version of Hawks (q.v.).
Overseas student
A student from outside the European Community.
A second rate university in the Midlands. Occasionally produces Prime Ministers. See also: The Other Place
Oxford end
That which a double-ended Cambridge punt does not have.


Short for “Pigeon Hole”, see below.
Parker’s Piece
Open land in the town, in the centre of which is Reality Checkpoint.
A stage of Tripos examination, as in Part I or Part II. Part II is normally a third or fourth year examination. Part I may be subdivided into Parts Ia and Ib, normally taken in the first and second years. It is usually necessary to obtain honours in all parts to qualify for a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Plant Breeding International (formerly Plant Breeding Institute).
Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, Cambridge’s psychology degree.
Pembroke Regatta
The rowing regatta in Lent Week 5, organised by Pembroke College Boat Club.
The library of the Faculty of Music.
Synonymous with commoner.
Library at Magdalene College.
Personal Tutor
The Fellow responsible for your personal and pastoral welfare during your time at the University of Cambridge. The person to contact if you have any concerns, even academic ones if you feel you can’t speak to your DoS about them. Usually a fellow in a different subject to the one you are reading, their job is to take your side and support you, also in any disagreements concerning university/College matters.
Postgraduate Certificate in Education.
Philosophical Society
A learned society devoted to mathematics and the sciences.
  1. Formerly the university mainframe computing service.
  2. A building on the New Museums Site.
Short for “Pigeon Hole”.
Land, as in Christ’s Pieces, Parker’s Piece. Now usually laid to grass.
Pigeon Hole
A space in the plodge or College mailroom, generally the “letter box” during one’s time at Cambridge. Check it often at the beginning of Term, especially in Michaelmas. Yours is the one underneath your name!
(noun) a personal mailbox, typically in the Porters’ Lodge;
(verb) to leave a message for someone in their pigeon-hole.
Pitt Building
Former headquarters of the CUP, on the Press Site.
Pitt Club
Private university club having a building in Jesus Lane.
A supporting vote for a Grace.
Porters’ Lodge.
When a candidate is not given an offer at their chosen College due to the limited number of places for that subject at that College, but the Director of Studies thinks that they are good enough to get a place at Cambridge, they may “pool” them (put them in the winter pool). Other Colleges with place for that subject may then make the candidate an offer, either straight away, or after reinterviewing them. Sometimes, a College may pool a candidate “with strings attached” so that they can compare that candidate against the ones from other Colleges which have been pooled (as the College has to participate in the pool in order to see the other candidates in the pool), and if they do not see any better candidates, the original College may give their original candidate an offer (as they still have first dibs on that candidate “with strings”), or decide to give an offer to a better candidate from the pool. When a candidate fails their offer by a small amount, or due to reasons such as illness or family crisis, they can be placed in the summer pool to be considered by another College with a place for their subject. The pooling system is designed to make the application process as fair as possible, as the best candidates will get an offer regardless of which College they originally applied to or if they did an open application, as applicant numbers for different subjects at different Colleges can vary by a large degree between different years.
Multi-functional College staff who act as receptionists, administrators (to an extent), mailmen, and sometimes porters. Generally known as the “grumpy old men” in Cambridge – however there are occasionally nice ones and female ones in a few Colleges.
Porters’ Lodge
Porters will be in the porters’ lodge 24/7 on hand to handle any problems you might have. People also usually meet outside it. Usually shortened to “plodge”.
At Cambridge, a student reading for a Master’s degree (other than an M.Phil. or M.A.), some Diplomas, or Certificates. To be distinguished from Graduate Student.
Politics, Psychology and Sociology, another name for SPS (Social and Political Sciences, see below). International Studies was sometimes added onto the end to make it PPSIS. Politics and sociology are now part of HSPS, and psychology part of PBS.
A College officer (formerly known as Father of the College) who is responsible for matriculating students, preparing supplicats, and presenting graduands for their degrees.
Precincts of the University
Everywhere within three miles of Great St Mary’s Church, within which students must reside in order to keep term.
Preliminary Examination (colloquially Prelims)
A progress examination in the university, not contributing to degree qualification.
Preliminary exams. Held in some subject such as History and English, where the Part I lasts two years and is not divided into Part IA and IB like many other subjects.
  1. The person who runs any club or societies.
  2. At Queens’ College, Clare Hall, Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish College, New Hall and Wolfson College, the head of the College. At some other Colleges, the President is a Fellow appointed to preside in the SCR.
President’s Lodge
A part of Queens’ College forming the home of the President and his family.
Press Site
University buildings between Mill Lane and Silver Street; the former location of the CUP.
At Newnham College and Homerton College, the head of the College.
The name for official responsible for discipline in some Colleges.
Assistant Proctor.
University disciplinary officers. There is one Senior Proctor and one Junior Proctor, and several Pro-Proctors.
The most senior university academic appointment.
Professorial Fellowship
Class of College Fellowship held by a University Professor, who are forbidden by Ordinance to undertake College teaching. A quota system operates to ensure that all Colleges share the burden of supporting Professorial Fellowships.
Official publication (in the Reporter) of (for example) the Roll of the Regent House, and Register of the Senate.
The name for official responsible for discipline in some Colleges.
A long flat-bottomed boat of shallow draught, originally evolved for shooting wild-fowl, but now popular at both Oxford and Cambridge as a pleasure craft. Propelled by sticking a pole in the river bed and pushing. Oxford, in misguided idealism, insist on punting with the punt the original way around, with the flat gun-deck leading, standing in the body of the craft at the rear. Cambridge, in their pragmatic scientific way, have determined that it is far easier and safer to reverse the punt, and push the pole standing on the gun-deck at the rear. As proof of the evolution of inanimate objects, punts have recently evolved at Cambridge to have a flat deck at both ends, thus making it easier for the tourist to spot the Cambridge end.
The act of propelling a punt. As with all objects where a forward-acting force is applied at a point a long way behind the centre of gravity, a punt is fundamentally unstable, with errors of direction tending to magnify rather than be self-correcting. So punting correctly (in a dead straight line with no apparent effort) is more difficult than it looks. The secret agenda appears to be that both Oxford and Cambridge have discovered this to be a way of getting tourists to pay large amounts of money to make fools of themselves in public.
Pythagoras, School of
Popular name for Merton Hall, now part of St John’s College, the only surviving medieval non-collegiate house in Cambridge.


The Four Ways (Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Music) studied in medieval times by graduates for the Master of Arts degree.
Quarter Blue
A joke. See Winks.
Queen’s Road
Road along the Backs; nothing to do with Queens’ College.
Queens’ College
The common name of The Queen’s College of St Margaret and St Bernard in the University of Cambridge.
Queens’ Green
Common land between Queen’s Road and Queens’ College.


Library of the Institute of Criminology in West Road.
Raising And Giving. A university-wide charity organisation with RAG reps in every College, working closely with the CRs. It organises events throughout the year, and runs a RAG total for each College to encourage participation.
  1. Library of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory.
  2. Lecture room in the New Museums Site.
To study, as in reading Natural Sciences.
A university academic appointment, senior to a Lecturer and junior to a Professor.
Reality Checkpoint
Graffito on lamppost in the middle of Parker’s Piece.
The record of a student’s date of return to Cambridge after an Exeat. Hence Rediit Book, kept by a Tutor. The Exeat and Rediit dates are used to compute whether a student has kept a term.
Regent House
The ultimate legislative body of the University, consisting approximately of all Masters holding University Office or College Fellowships, or non-masters who have held Office or Fellowship for at least three years. The Regent House meets at Congregations to vote upon Graces and confer degrees.
Register of the Senate
Official list of membership of the Senate.
A University Officer who is head of the Registry.
Part of the university administrative offices at the Old Schools.
Regius [Professor]
A Professor appointed by The Crown.
The Cambridge University Reporter, a periodical in which official university notices, including Graces, are published.
Research Assistant
A dogsbody. Not to be confused with an Assistant in Research.
Research Fellow
A College academic appointment typically awarded to higher year research students or junior academics to support their research. Sometimes known as a Junior Research Fellow, or JRF, particularly at Oxford.
Research Student
No longer formally defined by the university, but generally understood to be a graduate student reading for the Doctor of Philosophy or Master of Philosophy degrees.
The process of keeping terms; being up at Cambridge. See also: Excess Residence.
Resident member
Members of College who are at Cambridge, residing within the Precincts.
Resident Members List
List of all resident members in the university; a special edition of the Cambridge Review.
Raised Faculty Building at Sidgwick Site.
Royal Greenwich Observatory, now located at Cambridge.
Robinson Head
The rowing race in Lent Week 4, organised by Robinson College Boat Club.
Roll of the Regent House
Official definition of membership of Regent House.
At Queens’ College, a Kangaroo.
See Ballot above.
The maternity hospital at Addenbrooke’s.
Round Church
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre; or its congregation as transferred to St Andrew the Great.
Rowed Over
During bumps, if a crew doesn’t get bumped or bump, it has “rowed over” as they have to row the whole course. If you bump or get bumped, you can stop rowing the course.
Regius Professor of Physic (i.e. Professor of Medicine).
A form of punishment whereby a student was sent out of residence for the remainder of the term.
University building at the Cavendish Laboratory at the West Cambridge Site.


System of academic leave, where every six term’s service qualifies one for one term’s paid leave to undertake research free of all other teaching and administrative duties (or six years earns one year’s leave).
  1. Senior Assistant in Research.
  2. Society for the Application of Research.
The festal gown for Doctors, normally bright red.
Scarlet Day
A day in the university calendar when Doctors wear Scarlet.
A student who holds a Scholarship. See also: Commoner, Pensioner, Sizar.
A College award whereby a student receives income from the endowments of the College, thus offsetting living expenses. Formerly, a scholarship might result in free tuition and commons.
  1. Grouping of University Faculties, by broad subject area. Each School is governed by a Council.
  2. (now rare) university teaching building, e.g. Arts School, Divinity School, and possibly Old Schools.
Scientific Periodicals Library
Library in the Arts School, formerly that of the Philosophical Society.
(strictly an Oxford term) a drinking forfeit imposed after a breach of table etiquette at Hall.
The Senior Combination Room. A public lounge/common room for the senior members of a Cambridge College. Located next to Hall, below the OCR in Catz.
Properly, the passage formed by screening off a dining hall from the doors leading to the outside world. Subsequently applied to the notice boards which were hung on the screens gates. Now a generic term for notice-boards.
As in “I got a Second”. Second Class Honours.
Second M.B.
The second part of the M.B. examination, taken during undergraduate pre-clinical training.
Secretary General of the Faculties
University Officer who is head of the General Board administration, and secretary to the General Board itself.
The Museum of Geology. Not to be confused with Sidgwick.
Library of the Faculty of History; the building containing the library on the Sidgwick Site.
The body of all Masters of the University (whether resident or not), now having almost no powers. Meets at Discussions.
Senate House
Situated on King’s Parade, next to King’s College main entrance and opposite the King’s College Chapel. It is where Cambridge students graduate, and Tripos (exam) results are posted outside this building at the end of the academic year for University members to see.
Senate, Council of the
Former name of the most powerful committee in the university; submits Graces to the Regent House. Now called simply The Council.
Senior Assistant in Research
University academic post with an emphasis on research and limited in the amount of teaching that may be undertaken.
Senior Bursar
A College officer, responsible for finance and investments.
Senior Fellow
The Fellow who has been a Fellow longest.
Senior Member
A member (of College, or of university) who is a Master or higher.
Senior Treasurer
A Senior Member of a student club who has overview of the finances.
Senior Tutor
College officer responsible for many aspects of College. Most relevant to students, they can help with monetary other Welfare issues. You can go to the Senior Tutor for any guidance needed.
Senior Wrangler
The Wrangler who came top.
Sent down
The colloquial way of saying “expelled”. A punishment, now rare, involving premature termination of a university career. In former times, sometimes celebrated with a mock funeral procession (usually to the railway station).

Seven persons constituting

  1. a court of appeal against decisions of the Court of Discipline in the case of junior members; and
  2. a court of first instance in disciplinary cases against senior members.
Residential room(s) in a College.
Shire Hall
The offices, on Castle Hill, of the Cambridgeshire County Council.
A university site between Sidgwick Avenue and the UL. Not to be confused with Sedgwick.
Sidgwick Site
A main lecture and department site located on Sidgwick Avenue next to Selwyn College and opposite Newnham College, housing the departments of most arts subjects, including ASNAC, Classics, Divinity, Economics, English, History, Law, Linguistics, MML, Music, Oriental Studies, Philosophy and Theology and Religious Studies.
Single Transferable Vote
Voting system, as defined by Ordinances, used within the University for elections to certain Councils, Boards,etc.
In medieval times, a poor student who paid his way at College by taking on menial domestic chores.
Undergraduate and B.A. gowns have slits cut in the fronts of the sleeves through which the arms can be passed when eating so that the sleeve proper does not trail in food. M.A.s and higher degrees do not have these slits; perhaps they are reckoned not to have such problems at table.
Small Bridge
The huge bridge carrying Silver Street over the river. See also: Great Bridge.
Small Bridges Street
Former name of Silver Street.
Smoking Concert (or Smoker)
A comic revue, or light-hearted concert, where the audience (certainly in former times, less so now) dress in smoking jackets, or dinner jackets.
When two societies from different colleges go for a formal/meal/pub meet – a great way to meet people outside of college or people from other years at Catz.
Societies Syndicate
University committee dispensing assistance to university societies.
Soph (for Sophister)
Archaic term. Junior Soph = second year undergraduate. Senior Soph = third year undergraduate.
Now extinct. See Ordinary (1).
Scientific Periodicals Library.
  1. The Regal, a Wetherspoons pub and sometimes club on St Andrew’s Street.
  2. During the four days of bumps, if a crew gets bumped every single day, it gets “spoons” (of the wooden variety). The opposite of Blades – an utter shame, and all crews try to avoid it.
Spraying friends with cava (or other fizzy drinks) when they’ve finished their exams.
Scott Polar Research Institute.
Social and Political Sciences, now part of HSPS.
The square academic cap, popularly, but incorrectly called a mortar board. See also: bonnet.
The bizarre name for the events that clubs and societies run in Freshers’ Week, where you can find out more about them and sign up.
The Law Library situated on the Sidgwick Site on Sidgwick Avenue.
St. Chad’s
The Catz second year accommodation near the Sidgwick Site. It is located at the west end of West Road.
Club or society clothing. Catz stash is (of course) the best.
The formal legal powers granted to the University or a College by the Crown, acting through the Privy Council, enabling the University or College to be a self-governing corporation. Within the framework of Statutes, the University enacts Ordinances by Grace, creating internal legislation defining how the University conducts itself.
College officer responsible for the kitchens and food in Hall.
Cambridge academics have stipends, not salaries.
Bits of a Cambridge B.A. or M.A. gown; signify the wearer is a Cambridge graduate. Those who hold merely the status of B.A. or M.A. should remove the strings from their gown.
Single Transferable Vote.
Suicide Sunday
The Sunday before May Week. Usually the day after the last day of exams for the year, before the results have come out. Lots of celebrations occur on this day. So called because students are reputed to drink themselves to death on it, obviously exaggerated (because then you’d miss out on the festive frivolities of May Week, and who would be stupid enough to do that?).
A session of about an hour with your supervisor, usually once a week, to go through work. This is what people often say sets Cambridge apart from other universities, as you get close contact to experts in their field.
Person appointed by the College to teach students. At Oxford, such a person is called a Tutor. The supervisor for a research student is appointed by the University.
Departmental staff or postgraduate students who give supervisions, increasingly specialists in the particular area of your subject you are interested in in later years.
(noun) the application made to the university by the Praelector of a College for the award of a degree to student(s) of that College.
See social.
A person who serves on a Syndicate.
In the university, a general term for a committee which is grander than a plain committee, but not as grand as a Board.
Syndicate Room
A room in the Old Schools.


Name for a sizar at The Queen’s College Oxford.
Extinct University officer who checked weights and measures and the quality of merchandise sold in the town. Offenders ran the risk of being discommuned.
“The Cambridge Student”. A student newspaper run by CUSU which is less formal than “Varsity”.
Student slang (particularly in opposition to Thesp) for one who provides backstage support in drama.
One of three periods (Michaelmas, Lent, Easter) in the academic year which students must keep in order to qualify by residence for their degree. See also: Full Term.
The Fitzwilliam
Fitzwilliam Museum, on Trumpington Street.
The Gogs
The Gog Magog Hills, to the south of Cambridge.
The Network
The university internal telephone network, as in “call me on the network.”
The Other Place
Oxford University, people from which are sometimes referred as the “Fordies.”
The Tech
Former abbreviation for the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, later called Anglia Higher Education College, now called Anglia Polytechnic University.
The Vans
The Van of Life and the Van of Death, the two mobile food suppliers open in the Market Square every night from around 8pm until 3am, manna from the gods when feeling peckish after a night out. See also “Gardies” above.
Student slang for an actor.
A lecture room in the Department of Earth Sciences.
Tit Hall
Trinity Hall, a Cambridge College.
University mainframe computer (prototype Atlas II) before Phoenix.
Tompkins, the
The unofficial league table started by a Mathematics undergrad called Peter Tompkins in 1981. Published in student newspapers (“Varsity” and “The Cambridge Student”) and national newspapers such as the Independent. See related article.
In opposition to Gown, the non-university parts and people of the City of Cambridge, as in Town Bumps., rowing races for town clubs.
First Capital Connect operates the express non-stop train service which only takes around 45-50 mins, and semi-fast services which take just over an hour, from Cambridge to London Kings Cross. There is also a slower stopping service over a different route to London Liverpool Street which takes about an hour run by National Express East Anglia. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in the Midlands, train services to there are run by Arriva CrossCountry and are much less speedy.
Travel Grants
Some Colleges pay Travel Grants which help with the cost of foreign travel. Usually a trip report is expected when you return.
University Officer who is head of what used to be called the Financial Board.
A mathematician at Trinity College (see mathmo).
The formal university examinations in which undergraduates are required to obtain honours in order to qualify for the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Triposes may be divided into two Parts, taken in succession as Part I and Part II. Transfer between subjects is possible after completion of earlier parts. The word tripos is reputedly derived from the legend that the examiner sat on a three-legged stool.
The Three Ways (Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic) studied in medieval times by undergraduates for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Hence the pejorative term trivial – elementary, of interest only to mere undergraduates.
A College Fellow who is assigned to you when you matriculate. Your Tutor is often your first port of call for your Welfare needs and to provide you any guidance that you need.
A building at Christ’s College.


University Assistant Lecturer.
University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate.
University Computing Service (also CS).
The University Library. A Copyright Library (which means that publishers must by law send it a copy of every book and magazine they publish in the UK) with an extensive collection of books from around the world. Located near Chad’s. Looks like a foreboding factory. Good place for revision during exam term. You can honestly get lost in there.
University Mail Service. Internal mail service between departments of the University.
(literally: under the step) a member of the university who does not have a degree.
A bus service that runs from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in south of Cambridge to Madingley Road, northwest of Cambridge, where Churchill College, the Maths dept, the Computer Lab, Science Park and the Veterinary Hospital can be found. The service is run every 20 minutes during week day and is 50p to all members of university on showing of one’s University Card. source

According to context, may mean:

  1. a College union
  2. CUSU
  3. the Union Society.
Union Catalogue
A combined catalogue of all the University’s Libraries and departmental libraries.
Union Society
The university debating club. Not a Students’ Union.
University of Cambridge
“A common law corporation, being a corporation by prescription consisting of a Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars who from time out of mind have had the government of their members and enjoyed the privileges of such a corporation.” Probably originated in the 12th century.
Upper River
That part of the river Cam (or Granta) flowing from Grantchester to the mill races in Cambridge.
Universities Superannuation Scheme.
University Teaching Officer. See Demonstrator, Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer, Reader, Professor. UTOs are usually, but not always, also Fellows of a College. Nowadays known simply as University Officers.


The university’s preferred alternative word to ‘holiday’, meant to remind you that the ones at Christmas and Easter should be spent on supervision work and reading rather than relaxation – as if. Though do try to do some revision at Easter, it does help.
A student of Pembroke College. From the original name: The Hall Of Valence Mary.
Van of Life, Van of Death
Two fast-food vans in Market Square that appear every night to satisfy the cravings of clubbers on their way home. The Van of Life vs Van of Death battle has been raging for years.
  1. student-run newspaper
  2. the match that most sports play against Oxford each year, with massive rivalry
  3. a ski trip together with Oxford, which happens every winter
Vet School
Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine.
The principal academic and administrative officer of the University. Currently Professor Alison Richard.
Visiting Scholars
A society for providing assistance and information to overseas visiting academics and their families.
A College appointment, normally of a distinguished outside person, who may sometimes act as a court of last appeal against decisions of the Governing Body.


At Robinson College, the head of the College.
Wedding Cake
New Court, St John’s College.
A system of week numbering within Full Term has recently spread to Cambridge from Oxford. Used at Cambridge mainly in connection with drama, as in “a 6th-week production”. Week counting is easier at Oxford, where Full Terms start on Sundays and end on Saturdays.
Week 1 – Week 8
The eight weeks in a full term (when lectures are run – supervisions can be arranged outside this time), a system frequently used in place of calendar dates. A Cambridge week starts on a Thursday and finishes on a Wednesday. See also “Week 5 blues” below.
West Cambridge
University site where many scientific departments are being relocated.
Museum of the History of Science, in Free School Lane.
Laboratory, on Madingley Road, of the Engineering Department.
William Harvey
Lecture room at the Clinical School.
Tiddlywinks, a game played played by Winkers.
Wooden Spoon
Until 1909, the object presented to the student who came bottom in the Mathematics Tripos.
In the Mathematics Tripos, a grade of pass equivalent to First Class Honours.
Library at Trinity College.