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Teaching and Learning take place in multiple different ways at Cambridge, ranging from one-on-one supervisions in some subjects all the way to lectures with a few hundred people in them.

+ Supervisions

Teaching sessions that are guided by an academic or PhD student. These can be one to one basis, or in groups of up to five students. You’ll usually be expected to prepare work ahead of the supervision which will be reviewed and discussed during the session.


+ Lectures

Delivered in large groups, lectures will provide you with the main course content. Humanities students will have fewer lectures per week than science-based subjects, which will likely have lectures 9-5 most days, including Saturdays. You can find more information on your lecture times on the University’s online timetable from late September.


+ Seminar/Labs

Depending on your subject, you may also have teaching in medium sized groups. If you do a science-based subject these are likely to be practical sessions where you solve problems or perform experiments under supervision. Humanities students may have larger group discussions or language lessons in medium sized seminars.


+ Independent work

You will be expected to spend a lot of time doing independent work during term, this is especially the case for humanities students who will have less lecture time. You can find study space in your College and your department, as well as at the University Library.


+ Your first essay/submission

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for your first work submission; you’ve only just arrived so you’re not expected to know everything! Keep focused, use your support networks and remember to ask for feedback from your supervisor.


+ CamGuides

If you’d like to look into how you’ll learn at Cambridge in more detail, check out CamGuides, a pre-arrival resource that is designed to help your transition from school to university. CamGuides is aimed at students beginning an undergraduate, or taught Master’s, degree. Its designed to help students prepare for their studies in Cambridge, regardless of their subject or college

+ College Families

Your College JCR will usually assign you with college “parents” and/or “subject siblings”. This is basically a buddy system, and your parents are there to answer any questions and help you settle in. You’ll also normally have college siblings who have the same parents as you. Often your parents will be studying the same subjects as you and can answer any questions about your course, and if not then they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.


+ Director of Studies (DoS)

If you have any specific questions, concerns or any special requirements then send your DoS an email ahead of arriving at Cambridge. They will be in charge of coordinating all of your teaching and educational experience while you are here, so they will be your first point of call for all things academic.


+ Tutor

The majority of colleges will also assign you a tutor, who is there to provide non-academic support. They are also an academic, so if you have an academic concern that you are not happy talking to your DoS about, you can always take it to them instead. You will most likely get an email inviting you to meet your tutor once you arrive.

+ Students’ Unions’ Advice Service

The Students’ Unions’ Advice Service offers free, confidential and independent support for all University of Cambridge students. Set up by your students’ unions, CUSU and the GU, their fully trained advisors are on hand to discuss any issues you may have. For more information visit their website –


+ Disability Resource Centre (DRC)

If you are worried about provisions for a disability or learning difficulty, be sure to contact the Disability Resource Centre as soon as possible. They are there to provide resources and information on getting assistive technology. If you think you may have an undiagnosed learning difficulty, pay them a visit when you arrive – it’s best to find out and find out what provisions you can get as early as possible.

Depending on your subject, you’ll most likely get a reading list from your Director of Studies (DoS) before arriving at your College, and it might be very long! But don’t worry – here are some tips for dealing with it:

+ Don’t buy all the books

It will cost a fortune, and you don’t have to. Cambridge has over 100 libraries so you will definitely be able to find what you need when you get here. Especially make sure you aren’t buying a very expensive book just to read one chapter of it!

+ Buy second hand

If you need to buy a book, buy it second hand. If you find it’s still too expensive, you can always post in one of the freshers groups to see if anyone else has a copy, or ask if your college parents have a copy they want to sell on.

+ Nobody reads it all

Some people will arrive having read nothing and others will have read more. If you want to get going before you arrive, prioritise by identifying key texts, or focus on reading the longer books in the holidays so you only have shorter ones left to read during term.

+ Ask for help

To help you prioritise what to buy and read before you arrive, ask your college parents, your subject’s freshers group or your Director of Studies (DoS).+ Enjoy yourself

You’re in for the most intense, incredible, academic 3+ years of your life – so don’t stress, it’s exciting!

Make sure you check out your
faculty’s website before you arrive.

The university has a very helpful A-Z directory of departments to help you do this. Many of the websites have a newsfeed that contains interesting stories relevant to your area of study, so is a great way to keep up to date with current developments.

+ Academic Representation

Most academic representation takes place within faculties, in the form of Faculty Reps. These representatives sit on Faculty Board, the most senior decision-making committee within a particular faculty. If you want to get in touch with your Faculty Rep, have a look at your faculty website for their details or email to find out who they are!


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