King's College, Cambridge

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Student Statistics

  • Total Undergraduates in 2007-8 = 412 (225 men + 187 women)
  • Total Undergraduates in 2006-7 = 394 (215 men + 179 women)
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 07: 143 (82 men + 61 women)
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 06: 129 (62 men + 67 women)

Source: The Reporter Special Issue: Student Numbers 07-08

King's Applications

King's has one of the highest proportions of students from state schools (76% of UK acceptances for 2008 entry (source)). This is due to the high proportion of applications from the state sector, though, and students from private schools stand the same chance of getting in. Once you're studying at King's, nobody cares what kind of school you went to!


King's is about as central as you can get! It's right in the middle of the university town on one of the most stunning streets, King's Parade. It is right next to the Senate House and near Great St Mary's Church (the university church), the market square and St Catharine's and Corpus Christi Colleges. Proper Cambridge, as it were. More importantly, it's also opposite the Fudge Kitchen which gives free samples and loads of other shops.... The river Cam runs through the College - the riverbank in King's is a georgeous place for a break on a sunny day, watching people punting under King's bridge. And if you want to go punting or kayaking or say hello to ducks it's all very convenient. Following the path to Queens' Road where the back gate is, there's a lovely calm stretch with much appreciated shade, flowers, ducks then bang, you're into the real world again, conveniently right by the Sidgwick Site where most Arts Faculties are, unless you prefer to carry on to King's secret garden which is as stunning as it is huge.

The location is fantastic for most subjects as you can get to lectures quickly and enjoy the maximum precious minutes in bed in the morning!!!

  • The Sidgwick site (English, Law, Philosophy, MML and Linguistics, History, Divinity, Music, Economics, Classics) is just 0.14 miles up West Road, as is the University Library.
  • 0.25 miles to the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms (lectures in Maths, SPS etc).
  • 0.34 miles to the Downing Site and the New Museums Site.
  • 0.5 miles to the Engineering Department on Trumpington Road.
  • 0.69 miles to the Chemistry Department on Lensfield Road.
  • 1.39 miles to the railway station.

(All distances measured with Gmaps pedometer)


The advantage of King's accommodation is that it's all very central and it really helps with the atmosphere in college because everyone lives close together. King's accommodation is for the full 3 or 4 years of your undergraduate course. They let you choose between short contract (you live there in term and a few days either side) and long contract (if you want to stay during vacations). Not only will the accommodation save you the faff involved in renting privately, it also means you'll be living centrally and most importantly it saves you a lot of money.

First year First years live together, normally in the Keynes Building and Spalding Hostel.

  • Keynes - a modern sixties building on the main college site with more than seventy en-suite rooms (image). Yes, ok, it's pretty ugly from the outside but you can't really see it as it's mainly hidden behind (and joined onto) other older buildings (it's behind these nineteenth century buildings). The rooms are ensuite and a decent size. Some of the views over Chetwynd Court are nice (and it's good to be able to look down and see some mates and know it's only a minute to go and join them - sociable work breaks work really well in the summer and require no planning if you live here). The rooms are on corridors so you get to know lots of people very quickly which is perfect for first year. The small kitchens (we call them gyp rooms) aren't anything special. But given that the canteen is just downstairs and there's the coffee shop etc. too that's not really a problem. Despite the bar being downstairs it's not noisy and being so close to the social centre of college is fantastic. The disadvantage is that you can only get short contract rooms in Keynes - you have to clear out your stuff and move out during the vacations as it is used for school visits and conferences then (but there are trunk rooms if you need to leave stuff).

If you opt for something cheaper or with a longer contract (so that you can stay longer in the vacations) then you'll probably be in Spalding Hostel.

  • Spalding Hostel (55 students, 2 mins walk College, shared facilities, short- or long-contract). Spalding is alright. It has a crazy layout - you'll never have seen anything like it - all wiggly staircases etc but the rooms are pretty nice. It's not en-suite. The plus side is that you can get it long contract and stay over the vacations - it saves a lot of hassle and Cambridge is quite nice out of term - calme so you have time to enjoy it and can really get things done. Spalding is in between the market place, New Museum Site (lots of faculties) and King's so very handy for most things. The kitchens are better than Keynes with proper ovens/hobs. The common room is very nice with comfy sofas and a 42inch TV. It's also good for watching films if you put a sheet up and get the projector out from the porters lodge (if 42 inches isn't big enough for you).Quite a lot of musicians live there as some rooms have pianos and there are some graduate studuents but they are less than a quarter. a room in Spalding Hostel

As you progress into second and third year, you have more choice and generally the rooms will get better in quality unless you're deliberatly aiming for the cheaper end. All first year accommodation is fine but it will get fantastic later on.

Second and third years have more choice- many live in Garden Hostel (big rooms over the road at the back of King's, see images here and here) or the new extension to it (en-suite with balconies and great kitchens, aptly called New Garden Hostel, image here), others live in college (A-staircase, Webbs Court) without en-suite or back in Keynes building (but on the top floor, which has great rooms with two floors). There is also accommodation available in two other hostels just across the road- Spalding Hostel (which is shared with the graduate students) and St. Edward's Passage which has en suite facilities but lacks a laundry room. Lots of third years get to stay in Bodley's court (see images hereherehere and here) in the massive old rooms by the river.

I think the rooms with fireplaces tend to be occupied by fellows, though you can get a similar room in your third year- Bodley's court that I mentioned above-(don't think they have fire places, but they are old and nice, often with a bedroom and a sitting room to yourself).

I'd definitely recommend King's in terms of accommodation. Unless you're really unlucky on the ballot (everyone is ranked randomly in order of who chooses their room first in second year, and it is reversed in third year), you could potentially live in en-suite for all three years...or even en-suite for two years and then have a room by the river in third year. Prices vary according to the facilities, but you can get some really good rooms bang in the middle of College quite cheaply.

Graduate accommodation King's has reasonably good accommodation provision for grads, with MPhil/first and final year PhD students given priority for rooms in college, but with some rooms still available (by ballot) for middle-year PhDs. Although not housed on-site, the graduate hostels and houses are well positioned throughout Cambridge. Some graduates live with undergrads at Tennis Court Road, while others live in dedicated graduate houses in Newnham and bordering the Sidgwick site - Grasshopper Lodge, Cranmer Road and Eltisley Avenue. For those who row, there's a house in Chesterton (Wychcote) which may appeal. The rooms at Wychcote are arranged into flats of three, sharing a kitchen, shower and toilet. Rumour has it one of these rooms has a double bed...

Details can be found here:


The canteen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day except at the weekend when breakfast and lunch are replaced by brunch from 11am to 1.30pm. It is quite simply the best college canteen in Cambridge in terms of the quality and variety of food and has recently been refurbished so looks very professional these days too. There are always 3/4 hot options at lunch including at least one vegetarian option. There's also a large salad bar in the middle with lots of choice, packaged sandwiches, soup and a variety of deserts (maybe 5 cold options including fruit salad, yoghurts and tartes etc. and a hot pudding to choose from) The sticky toffee pudding is out of this world! The College has a dessert chef so things can't go too wrong! As there's so much choice and variety you don't get bored even if you eat there every day. The staff are really friendly and helpful too.

The hall itself is one of the largest in Cambridge and decidedly Hogwarts-ish in a neo-gothic style with portraits round the walls, stained glass windows, a combination of stone and wooden panels, balconies at each end, a huge tapestry etc. If you want traditional Cambridge then this is it. Most students either eat in the hall or take their food through to the bar. In the summer there's a courtyard by the canteen with wooden tables and chairs and parasols which is a pleasant place to eat if you want to be outside or you can take your food down by the river.

Formal Hall Formal Hall happens in addition to the normal canteen dinner once a week. A three course meal is served to you at the tables which are all properly set out etc by the canteen staff - you get a really nice atmosphere in the College Hall and these meals are one of the traditional Cambridge activities. Everyone dresses up, brings wine and has an awesome time. Formal hall is very very popular with King's students. See images here and here and here. According to a survey conducted by The Cambridge Student King's formal Hall was rated the best in Cambridge (See page 6 of the Jan 28 2010 issue) and 78.2% of students who had attended a formal at King's are reported to have said the atmosphere was 'excellent' (2nd article here).

Social Spaces

The large college bar is the main space for students to gather and relax in on a day to day basis. The adjacent coffee shop is also very popular with sofas and free wifi. There's always a great atmosphere in the bar and coffee shop. They're very well used and provide a good place to come back to after a long day in the labs or the library. King's is a real community and you'll always find people you know to have a chat or play pool with (40p a game, there's table football and a quiz machine too!). There are daily newspapers for you to browse too if you like.

In the summer it's really nice to go out on the grass too (with or without your books!). Some people think of King's as quite austere because you're not allowed to walk on the grass on the two big main lawns. That's just to keep it looking pretty though and once you're at King's you find that there is plenty of grass you can go on. Bodley's Court lawn and the riverbank are both great places to sit by the river, and if you go over the road (where you might live if you're in Garden Hostel or the New Garden Hostel) there's a huge and beautiful fellows' garden which students can use at any time. It's a really peaceful place - you'd never know that Queens' Road runs by it.

Finally, did you know that King's has it's own night club? This is the cellar bar in the basement of Keynes which is used for regular dance and music events. You can get involved in the DJ-ing if you like too!

King's College Chapel

Library and Computing

King's has a stunning library. You really feel like you're at Cambridge when you're working there - there are ladders to climb up to the top shelves and everything! Students can use the library 24/7 and there's also the Rowe Music Library (the most important music collection in Cambridge) above it. The library holds some 130,000 volumes and is spread over a sequence of rooms providing lots of pleasant hideaways to work in with views of the gardens. If you need a book which is not part of the collection then the librarians will order it for you. Similarly the library provides multiple copies of the popular textbooks etc.

There is also an Archive Centre with college archives and collections of personal papers including those of former King's members E. M. Forster (novelist), Edmund Leach (anthropologist) and John Maynard Keynes (amazing economist).

Computing facilities are excellent with room connections to the university network (high speed broadband) and the Turing Computer Room available for use by undergraduates 24/7. Graduate students use the computer room in the Graduate suite.

Room Connections: Internet provision at King's is very good. Lots of Colleges have internet which is charged separately and there are annoying limits on how much bandwidth you can use per week/month. None of this at King's - internet is free (or at least included in rent prices, who knows) and pretty much unlimited. A Student writes I haven't had a problem [with the bandwidth allowance] and I'm on the internet loads. I've received a few emails telling me off for leaving Spotify on all day, or for downloading something from iplayer (they don't seem to have a problem if you stream it directly, but if you download it they do) but apart from that no problems. It's rare they'll email you about it, and even though they've had to email me a few times nothing has come of it.


There is always loads going on in college and the college attracts a lot of university talks and society events as well as the regular King's ones. The centre of activity is the bar - a place you can go to at any time and always find someone to chat with. There's live music there two or three times a week too (ska bands, samba bands, jazz bands, rock bands, open mic nights- talent shows, basically- DJs). We also have a cellar bar and music venue which is very popular (basically a dark basement where DJs play once or twice a week...indie nights, cheese nights, a lot of DNB and house)

At the end of Michaelmas and Lent term we have 'Mingles' in which most of the big rooms in college (bar, cellar bar, conference rooms) have different kinds of music playing which changes throughout the night. So you might have indie in the bar, dance music in the cellar, and then house in the conference rooms. I love the Mingles because of the music- if you hate a particular type of music you just go into a different room. One of our porters impersonates Elvis and sometimes we have live drumming and bands. Generally though, the main focus is on having a variety of DJs. King's Mingle is generally seen to be one of the best ents in Cambridge. In place of the Mingle at the end of Easter term, there is King's Affair, which is basically the Mingle on a bigger scale (I've not been to one yet as I'm only in the first year). King's Affair is King's (cheaper) alternative to posh May Balls, though obviously many people choose to go to May Balls as well as the affair.


King's is probably the most left-wing Oxbridge college, and is very active politically. If you look at virtually anything the university has done historically, admitting women for the first time (scandal!), encouraging more state school students to apply, working with mature students, the Cambridge Special Access Scheme etc, King's was in there right at the beginning. The College has an old reputation for being full of communists and, in fact, still has a hammer and sickle framed on the bar wall refering to the college's revolutionary and activist heritage. But you shouldn't make any assumptions about that. The image has stirred considerable debate within the College which made the national press in February 2010. As this debate shows, today King's students have all sorts of different political persuasions which makes for a rich college culture for discussion and debate. It's a good college to choose if you have any interest in politics and discussion in general because King's people tend to be very active in the university wide campaigns and charities - they take an interest in the world around them, discuss issues of all kinds and get involved!

All this said, however, it's also absolutely fine if you are apathetic when it comes to politics and don't know the names of half the politicians etc - you won't be alone! It's not so much what you're interested in or what views you hold personally that is important, it's just good to be in a place where people have interests and talk to each other. Whether it's about something you learnt in a lecture, an essay you're writing, current affairs or the X Factor, being in a College where people share ideas and, just as importantly, listen to each other, is worth a huge amount. King's is a special place - it's a diverse community and that is celebrated because the range of experiences and thoughts that people bring to the table is exciting.


With such an amazing chapel, it's not surprising that King's has a particular reputation for music. Lots of people assume it's all about the Choir. Yes, in fact, we do have a world famous choir made up of 16 child choristers and the college's student choral scholars - you can see some youtube clips for some of their perfomances in links at the bottom. But the music scene at King's goes much further than that.

There's a mixed-voice choir (they're not as famous/prestigious as the King's College Choir but they sing really well and have a great time doing it!), a non-audition choir sings in the Chapel occasionally and there is King's College Music Society which is possibly the most active College Music Society, organising an orchestra, recitals or all kinds and just trying to get people involved.

Then, there are open mike nights in the bar, lots of student bands form (if you can't form a band at uni, something would be wrong..). Whatever your taste in music, you should find some like-minded people to jam with if that's your thing. Oh, and students themselves do the music for King's parties and club nights so if you fancy a spot of DJ-ing you can do that too! More detail

King's Drama

King's Drama is very enthusiastic and normally puts on at least one play each term in different venues in King's including outdoor theatre in the Fellows' Garden in the summer.

The King's Art Centre

King's has it's own art centre in A staircase. There's an exhibition gallery and a studio where art lessons are held. There's also a 'messy room' for, well, work with messy materials! The college runs various competitions to get involved in.

Have a look at [this page] to see the sort of stuff that goes on there!


King's rocks. Particularly KMKA (King's Mountineering and Kayaking Association) which is the most active outdoor activities society in the University. It's handy being on the river - you can take the college-owned kayaks out. The association organises camping stays away in the vacations with treckking, rock climbing, abseiling, and more kayaking (on slighly less calm waters than the river Cam....). It's huge and there's funding to keep costs down. Otherwise, our athletics team does very well, winning lots of inter-collegiate stuff. And loads of people are on University sports teams too.

You can do whatever sport you like at Cambridge. At King's there are mens' and women's football teams, netball, athletics, hockey, rowing, badminton, tennis, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, mixed lacrosse, squash, get the gist. Sport is a great way to get to know people in different years and doing different subjects. You don't have to be of a fantastic standard for college level sport, either - just turn up and have a go. The advantage of college sport is that you get lots of games/matches without having to travel outside of Cambridge!

Of course if you want to play more seriously/at a higher level or if your sport is less widely played you can join a university sports club too. King's shares a huge sports ground with Selwyn college. It's just 8 minutes' cycle away from the main site and has sports pitches, grass tennis courts and cricket nets. Students can also use the hard tennis courts at the King's College School if they like. And they can use the College punts on the river.

King's Affair

The King's Affair is a huge all night party that happens every year in May week, after the exams. It's a lot cheaper and not as formal as the mayballs in most other colleges - some people wear fancy dress, others just turn up in jeans. It has a reputation for being stuffed with a wide variety of music acts but with little of the opulence seen at other colleges' events. See the [King's Affair website] for details.

Facilities Overview

  • Virtual tour of King's (this is really good!)
  • The world-famous, stunning King's College Chapel. (virtual tour)
  • Canteen and dining hall (image)
  • Large College bar with pool table, table football and newspapers. There's live music normally at least once a week (ska bands, samba bands, jazz bands, rock bands, open mic nights- talent shows, DJs) (image 1image 2image 3)
  • Coffee Shop with sofas and wi-fi (also free trade and much cheaper than Starbucks) (image 1image 2)
  • TV room
  • Large and beautiful College Library (virtual tour)
  • Rowe Music Library (image)
  • Turing Computer Room (with networked PCs, Macs and printing/photocopying facitilies) and Graduate Computer Room
  • Graduate Common Room Suite with TV room, kitchen facilities and a shower.
  • Music practice rooms in the Keynes basement. There are also music practice rooms available for use at the King's School up the road - these might be closer to you if you're in Garden Hostel or New Garden Hostel.
  • King's Gym (The Vault)
  • King's Art Centre (A staircase) with gallery (frequent exhibitions), studio (where art lessons are held) and 'messy room' (for paint and other techniques).
  • Dark room (in O staircase basement) which is well used by a few people. Open to everyone who takes a short introductory course conducted by the darkroom committee.
  • King's Bunker (Cellar bar/party room) with audio equipment for parties and events such as cheese / indie / DNB / house nights.
  • Laundry (coin-operated)
  • Bodley court lawns (image), fellows' garden (image 1image 2) and the river bank on the backs side can be used by students
  • "Erg room" with rowing machines for eager boaties in the basement of the Keynes buildng. There are currently three concept 2 ergs in use.
  • Sports Ground shared with Selwyn (about a mile from King's, at the end of Fulbrooke Road) with rugby, football and cricket pitches and several grass tennis courts.
  • Hard tennis courts at King's College School (by the Fellows' Garden and the Garden Hostels) available for use.
  • Astroturf netball court at King's College School (by the Fellows' Garden and the Garden Hostels) available for use
  • Squash courts (by the Fellows' Garden and the Garden Hostels)
  • Boat-house on the Cam river (10-15 minute cycle ride from college). Shared with Churchill, Selwyn and the Leys School.
  • 5 College punts available for hire.
  • Large number of College kayaks and canoes available free of charge to members of the canoe club (requires an induction session), plus goal nets for kayak-polo games on the river.
  • Student allotments for growing your own veg.

Student-eye view

King's Student Perspectives - this is the King's alternative prospectus

King's has about 120 fellows. So there is approximately one fellow to every 3.3333333 students. This is one of the best fellow to student ratios of any Cambridge college.


King's grounds / buildings

King's Music

King's Sport

King's Comedy

King's Affair / Mingles

King's bar



Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
Modern and Medieval Languages
Natural Sciences
Politics, Psychology and Sociology


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