1st-8th Week 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.
Alumni Plural for alumnus. Former students, many of whom are famous and distinguished, including Issac Newton, Charles Darwin, Lord Byron, Sylvia Plath, Stephen Hawking, Douglas Adams, Germaine Greer, to name but a few.
Apostles Secret society founded in 1820. Women accepted since 1978 when Carol Vorderman was enrolled. Notorious as recruiting ground for Communist traitors in the 1930s; nowadays more whimsical.
ARU Anglia Ruskin University. Another university in central Cambridge, main campus on East Road, just opposite the Grafton Centre. Formerly called Anglia Polytechnic University or APU and was the last new universities to remove Polytechnic from its name in 2005.
Arch n Anth Cambridge slang for the subject Archaeology and Anthropology, and anyone studying it.
ASNAC Cambridge slang for the subject Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, and anyone studying it.
Backs, the The rear part of the big colleges (Queens’, Kings, Clare, Trinity Hall, Trinity, Johns mainly) which are next to the River Cam, which Queens Road runs along on. A beautiful part of Cambridge with magnificent view on the majestic architecture and beautiful gardens.
Ballot The draw deciding one’s position within a year group in choosing accommodation for the coming year. The method of selection varies between colleges.
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).
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.
Bedders The cleaning and maintenance staff in some colleges who comes into students’ rooms in the mornings and clear out the bins/make your bed/vacuums the room/etc. Also can become the gossip central.
Blades During the four days of bumps (see below), if a crew bumps every day, its crew members receive blades (oars) for the glory. Also see the opposite, "spoons", below".
Blues The University’s first team for any sport. Also refers to the students who play in these teams.
Boatie Cambridge slang for someone who rows.
Book Grants Many colleges give grants towards the cost of your textbooks.
Bop Equivalent of school discos at a Cambridge College, normally cheesy, but expanding to alternative scenes. Generally organised by ents (short for "entertainments", see below) committees. The most famous scenes in Cambridge include Kings Cellar, Queens’ Bops, Johns’ Boiler Room, Clare Cellars and Churchill’s Pav. See individual colleges for more detail.
Bumps 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. to make physical contact with) the boat in front. Currently two are held each year, one in Lent week 6 (Lent Bumps) and one in May week (May Bumps, or Mays).
Bursar Person responsible for a college’s finances.
Bursary 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.
Caius Gonville and Caius College. Pronounced "keys".
Cam The river in Cambridge, formerly called the Granta. Home to the boaties.
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 (CUSU, see below).
Cantab Another name for Cambridge. Now only used in cantab.net, the website for Cambridge alumni. Students from the other place (see below) 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.
Catz St Catharine’s College.
Cellar Posh name for underground college bars, e.g. at Clare and King's.
Chancellor 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.
Cindy’s One of the few Cambridge nightclubs, current official name Ballare (Italian for "dance"). Cindy’s was the name around 15 years ago; then named Fifth Avenue but due to sticky carpets the students nicknamed it Filth; refurbished and changed its name to Ballare during summer 2003. Cambridge students still call it Cindy's though. Currently the night club backed by CUSU and hence has high student traffic. See also Clubbing in Cambridge.
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 (see below). It runs every 20 minutes on weekdays.
Clare Novice Regatta Novice rowing regatta held by Clare College Boat Club at the end of November.
Classes 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.
CMS Centre for Mathematical Sciences, also called the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences. Situated on Wilberforce Road, near Girton College's Wolfson Court and Churchill College.
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 The JCRc (see below) of many colleges organises a useful college parenting system, where each first year student is allocated two (or more) upper year students, normally one male and one female (depending on the ratio of people who want college children), "married" together at the end of summer term. They are there to look after their college "children", answer any queries and introduce them to Cambridge life.
Computing Service See CUCS below.
Corpus Short for Corpus Christi College. People from Corpus are called Corpuscles.
Cox (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.
CUCS 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.
Cuppers The inter-college knock-out cup match run in Lent Term, available in many sports.
CUSU Cambridge University Students' Union. Affiliate of the National Union of Students (NUS). You automatically become a member when you matriculate (become a member of your college, and thus the University). Provides welfare and other services such as ents (short for "entertainments", see below), and campaigns on the students’ behalf. Unlike in other universities it does not have a central student venue or building of its own (although one is being planned).
Dean The name for official responsible for discipline in some colleges.
Domestic Bursar Person responsible for a college’s all domestic affairs.
DoS or DOS Director of Studies. This is the person in charge of your academic welfare in your subject at your college. (S)he will be your primary contact for any academic affairs or concerns during your study at the University of Cambridge. You will see him/her at least twice a term, at the beginning and end, to review your progress.
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.
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 (see below).
Emma Emmanuel College.
Emma Sprints Novice rowing race held by Emmanuel College Boat Club at the end of November. Crews row in fancy dress.
Ents The Cambridge slang for "entertainments". Refers to the event being organised, such as Bops (see above). Also refers to the entertainment officers (ents officers) on the JCRc or MCRc.
Erg, or Ergo Short for "ergometer", the "proper" name for the indoor rowing machines that you generally find in a normal gym (from Greek, literally "work measure". More commonly used than the phrase "rowing machine" due to the heavy boatie (see above) culture in the University.
Ethernet 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.
Example Sheets Mainly encounterd by Mathmos, engineers and NatScis. Worksheets which are worked through and handed into the supervisors to be discussed in supervisions.
Fairbairns 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.
Fenners University cricket ground, located behind Kelsey Kerridge sports centre.
Finalist Anyone taking their Final Tripos exams at the end of the academic year.
Finals The degree-awarding examinations at the end of the degree course.
Fitz Fitzwilliam College.
Formal Hall A formal dinner held at least a week in most colleges of the University. Senior members of the College sit at the high table, the students and their guests fill the remainder of the hall. Gowns have to be worn over smart attire (suits for men and smart casual for women) and a three or four course meal is generally served. Generally cheaper than eating out. Lots of societies in Cambridge do formal swaps (see below).
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.
Freshers New students admitted to the University of Cambridge. Technically only students who have not yet been matriculated but typically referred to as first years.
Freshers Fair Aka Societies Fair. Organised by CUSU (see above) 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.
Gardies The nickname given to the Greek Kebab shop named The Gardenirs on Rose Crescent. Much beloved by the Cambridge student community.
Girton A little village several miles north of Cambridge town, home to Girton College (half an hour cycle ride from the city centre).
Gown Every college has its own type of gowns. Must be worn on formal occasions such as the formal hall in some more traditional colleges; everyone has to wear them for matriculation (see below) except at King's, and graduation.
Grad Graduate student/graduand.
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.
Grafton Centre One of Cambridge's shopping centres, situated on East Road. Has Vue cinema and restaurants.
Half Blue Awarded to students chosen to represent the University in the "lesser" sports.
Hawks The Hawks’ Club is the club of male blues. A "hawk" refers to a student who is a blues player.
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.
ICMS Inter-College Mail Service. Free internal mail service between the colleges for any member of the university to use.
JCR The Junior Combination Room. The public lounge/common room within a college where undergraduates relax and socialise. Also the organisation that represents the undergraduates and holds activities within a college, which may be called the JCR Executive or JCR Committee (JCRc).
John’s St. John’s College. To the tune of 'she'll be coming round the mountain': 'Oh, we'd rather be at Oxford than St. John's we'd rather be at Oxford than St. John's...'
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.
Kelsey Kerridge The central Cambridge sports centre.
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.
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.
League 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.
Lent Term The second term of an academic year, runs from mid January to mid March.
Living Out Not living in college. Usually due to not being able to get a room in college.
Market Square Found in the town centre, in front of the city's Guild Hall.
Master The name for official responsible for discipline in some colleges.
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.
Mathmo Cambridge slang for someone who studies Mathematics.
Matriculation A College ceremony attended by freshers, normally conducted by the College's Praelector (a figurehead of the College), to signify the official admission of the students as a member of the College and thus of the University of Cambridge. Ceremonies vary between colleges, some being a simple signing and some involving the chapel, Latin, cap-doffing etc. Different from the Oxford ceremony which is done centrally. Praelector also has a different meaning in Oxford.
May Ball The end of year ball held by many colleges in May Week (see below).
May Week The week of relaxation, generally in mid June at the end of Easter Term, when most May Balls, June Events, and garden parties are held, just after all undergraduate exams are finished. So called because it used to be in May [i]before[/i] exams started.
MCR The Middle Combination Room. The public lounge/common room within a college where graduates relax and socialise. Also the organisation that represents the graduates and holds activities within a college (also called the MCR Executive).
Michaelmas Term The first term of the academic year, runs from early October to early December.
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.
MML Short for Modern & Medieval Languages.
NatSci Cambridge slang for someone who studies Natural Sciences. Pronounced 'natski', as the "Sci" is short for Latin "Scientia", which means knowledge. Natural Sciences originally meant "knowledge of the natural world", which is why it covers Physical as well as Biological sciences, respectively called Phys NatSci and Bio NatSci.
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 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.
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.
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).
Osprey The female version of the Hawks.
Oxford A second rate university in the Midlands. Occasionally produces Prime Ministers. See also: The Other Place
P’hole Short for "Pigeon Hole", see below.
Pembroke Regatta The rowing regatta in Lent Week 5, organised by Pembroke College Boat Club.
Personal Tutor The Fellow (see above) 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 (see above) 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.
Pidge Short for "Pigeon Hole", see below.
Pigeon Hole A space in the plodge (see below) or College mailroom, generally the "letter box" during one’s time at Cambridge. Check it several times a day at the beginning of Term, especially in Michaelmas, and daily during the rest of term. There is usually one per student, but can be shared between up to 3 students in some colleges. Usually shortened to "pidge" or "p hole".
Plodge Cambridge slang for Porters' Lodge (see below).
Pool 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.
Porters 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 Generally at the front gate of a college which houses the porters, see above. The place to go if you have any queries, and people also usually meet outside it. Usually shortened to "plodge" (see above).
PPS Politics, Psychology and Sociology, the new and more specific name for SPS (Social and Political Sciences, see below). International Studies is sometimes added onto the end to make it PPSIS, though most people still call it SPS.
Prelims 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.
Principle The name for official responsible for discipline in some colleges.
President Mainly the person who runs any club or societies. Also the name for official responsible for discipline in some colleges (e.g. Queens’ College).
Proctor Officials presiding over a number of aspects of university life including discipline, societies and examinations.
Provost The name for official responsible for discipline in some colleges.
Punting A punt is a flat-bottomed boat, typically used in small rivers and canals. It is propelled by pushing the riverbed with a long pole. Punting is a popular tourist and leisure activity on the River Cam, especially for students as an escape from the pressure of exam term, and celebrations when exams are over. An option for a possibly romantic, or possibly hilarious trip on the River Cam.
RAG 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.
Robinson Head The rowing race in Lent Week 4, organised by Robinson College Boat Club.
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.
Room-draw See Ballot above.
Scholar Academic high-flyer recognised by the University or College, usually for achievement of a First Class in their non-final tripos exams.
SCR The Senior Combination Room. A public lounge/common room for the senior members of a Cambridge college.
Seeley The History Library situated on the Sidgwick Site on Sidgwick Avenue.
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.
Senior Tutor The head of academic affairs in a college.
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.
Spoons 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 (see above) - an utter shame, and all crews try to avoid it.
SPS Social and Political Sciences, now renamed to the more specific PPSIS ("p'psis") for Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and International Studies, though most people still call it SPS or more recently, PPS.
Squire The Law Library situated on the Sidgwick Site on Sidgwick Avenue.
Suicide Sunday The Sunday before May Week. Usually the day after the last day of exams for the year. 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?).
Super Supervision, see below.
Supervisions Sometimes referred to as "supers". A unique teaching system where students are taught in small groups (generally two to four students). The most important way you learn in Cambridge, you cannot miss them without a very good reason (or you get fined heavily for doing so). Makes up at least half of the Cambridge learning experience, apart from lectures, and labs for science students.
Supervisors Departmental staff or postgraduate students who give supervisions, increasingly specialists in the particular area of your subject you are interested in in later years.
TCS "The Cambridge Student". A student newspaper run by CUSU (see above) which is less formal than "Varsity" (see below).
The Other Place Oxford University, people from which are sometimes referred as the "Fordies."
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.
Tit Hall Trinity Hall, a Cambridge college.
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.
Trains 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.
Tripos The Cambridge degree exam system. Divides an undergraduate degree into blocks of one or two years called Parts, and examinations are held at the end of each part. Transfer between subjects is possible after completion of earlier parts.
UL 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 between the Backs, the Sidgwick site and Grange Road. Looks like a foreboding factory. Afternoon tea and biscuits are served inside during Exam Term, when many people go there to revise.
UMS University Mail Service. Internal mail service between departments of the University.
Uni4 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
Vacation 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.
Varsity Inter-university event, usually refers to sporting and other contests between Oxford and Cambridge. Also a classic restaurant on Regent Street.
Varsity, the An independent student run newspaper. See also TCS above.
Vice-Chancellor The principal academic and administrative officer of the University. Currently Professor Alison Richard.
Week 5 blues When the beginning-of-term partying dies down a little bit and work piles up to the level that sometimes makes you despair. Many Cambridge students find Week 5 (or Week 4 or 6, depending on the person and subject) a tough week with mounting work pressure, and naturally the Union and societies organise parties and relaxing sessions to "cure" those Week 5 blues.