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what to expect

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.



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.


Usually 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. This year, lectures will be available in-person again. However, lectures will also be available to all online so if you would feel more comfortable watching them remotely rather than attending in person, this will be possible. You can find more information on your lecture times on the University’s online timetable from late September.

Seminars & 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.



dip into your reading list

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

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.


Remember 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.


Don't be afraid to 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!



find your faculty



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.

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, find their details on the Cambridge SU website or email Kate, your Student Rep Coordinator, to find out who they are!




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