Murray Edwards College, Cambridge

Introduction

Murray Edwards College (founded as New Hall and known affectionately as Medwards) is a women's college of the University of Cambridge. Characterised by its white bricks and dome, it is a modern and progressive college. It is the only non-denominational college in Cambridge, so has no religious affiliation or chapel.

One of the things it's known for is housing the New Hall Art Collection, the largest collection of women's art in Europe (and second largest in the world!). The art is hung around College and gives the College a refreshing atmosphere in comparison to some other colleges.

Murray Edwards is a more modern college and so its architecture is a bit unusual, but the College is still very beautiful, especially Fountain Court, the Dome (#DomeIsHome as we say) and the gardens (which you can walk all over and pick flowers and veg from).

Fountain Court

The Dome and entrance to College

The Dome and Fountain Court.

The Dome and gardens.

On the Murray Edwards Website you can take a virtual tour and learn more about the College.

Undergraduate Student Statistics

  • In 2019, 95% of students graduated with a 1st or 2:1 degree.
  • Total Undergraduates in 2019-20 = 376
  • Total Undergraduates in 2018-19 = 376
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 19 = 103
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 18 = 100
  • Total postgraduates in 2019-20 = 189

Source: University of Cambridge Information Hub

In 2019 65.8% of Murray Edwards College's Home acceptances were from state school students (source).

A Women's College

Undoubtedly the fact that Murray Edwards is a women's college is a strong part of its identity - and a part that causes some people (especially pooled students) some anxiety. There is no need to worry, however. You are very much in control of how much, or how little, contact you want with the opposite sex. Murray Edwards is one of the 'hill colleges' in a group with Fitzwilliam and Churchill in the north of the city. Both Fitzwilliam and Churchill are predominantly male colleges, and there is a strong community between the hill colleges, with joint orchestra, drama society and sports teams. Fitzwilliam come to dine at Murray Edwards when they have formal hall and the Churchill Pav (weekly club night) is strongly attended by Murray Edwards students. Your college is purely a base where you are accommodated, and Murray Edwards in no way bans males from the college. Your supervisions, labs, lectures, classes etc will be organised centrally so you will often be studying with men. Socially, there are many university-wide societies for you to join and socialise with men should you wish to.

In recent years, we have had a number of students who have identified as non-binary or as male. While most have been happy to remain at Murray Edwards, any student who decides they would prefer to be in a mixed College if transitioning to male or rejecting a binary gender category, will have the full support of College. College will do all that is possible to bring a transfer about but this would only be one option. Full tutorial support will be given to the student throughout the process regardless of the option the student chooses to take.

We're a very friendly, welcoming and easy going place. How much of that is the people, how much of that comes from being single sex and how much comes from being a modern college you'll have to work out yourself. Personally I'd say its the combination that works really well together.

Because of the uncertainty that some applicants have, there is an event called "Offer Holders'" where prospective students holding a conditional or unconditional offer are invited to stay at the college overnight. The Offer Holder will generally be put with a student in the first year who is studying their subject. Welcome events are put on, Offer Holders are usually taken to formal and to lectures by their hosts. Many Offer Holders are reassured by the event and look forward to coming to Murray Edwards when they make the grade in the summer.

Location

Murray Edwards is one of the 'hill colleges' in a group with Fitzwilliam and Churchill in the north of the city. There is a strong community between the hill colleges, and there are joint orchestra, drama society and sports teams. It's a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of town so a bit further than other colleges but really not too bad. Murray Edwards is very close to the Mathematics buildings, Vets centre, Cavendish labs and observatories, but about a half hour walk or ten minute bike ride to the main arts (Sidgwick site) and science (the New Museums Site/ Lensfield Road) teaching areas. The nearest shops are a 5-10 minute walk away and the Doctors Surgery on Huntingdon Road is next door. Aldi is a 5 minute walk away, so you can save a lot of money on food compared to everyone paying Sainsbury's prices in town.

Accommodation

Pearl House

Rooms vary in size, the L-shaped ones being slightly smaller, but all are en-suite! There are about 16 rooms per corridor, all sharing a fully equipped kitchen which have ovens and hobs - better than many other colleges. Many rooms have a lovely view over the beautiful gardens, and all have large windows and are very spacious - not the cramped, dark rooms in some of the older colleges. All first years live in Pearl House, which is great for fostering a sense of community and bonding in Freshers'. 

Orchard Court

Bedrooms in Orchard Court vary in size and style. Most are single rooms although a handful of students each year will choose to share. Rooms on the top floors are split level with a bed upstairs, and a study, storage and seating space downstairs. Students in this building share bathrooms although the ratio of students per bathroom or toilet can be as few as 2:1. All students have access to well-equipped kitchens, most of which have seating areas, making for a more sociable experience.

License periods vary between staircases – you have the option to choose a room with a 30-week (term time only) license or a 39-week license, meaning students do not need to remove their belongings over the Christmas and Easter holidays.

Kitchen at Orchard Court

Buckingham House

Buckingham House has to be some of the nicest accommodation in Cambridge - with en-suites, amazing large kitchens with a large dining area for everyone to sit down and eat dinner/ socialise together, and modern furnishings. Licenses for these rooms are term time only although additional accommodation can usually be arranged (at an extra cost) for students wishing to remain in College during the vacation period.

Bedroom at Buckingham House

Hammond House and Clover House

Situated a little further from the heart of College, Hammond House and Clover House have 12 and 6 bedrooms respectively. Both houses have living and dining rooms as well as kitchens, allowing for a more sociable living experience.

Licenses for these rooms are 30 weeks although additional accommodation can usually be arranged (at an extra cost) for students wishing to remain in College during the vacation period.

College houses

The College also owns a small number of properties away from the main site but within a five minute walk of College. Many of these are on the opposite side of Huntingdon Road. Popular with third year students, they allow for more independent living but with College facilities still close at hand. Each house has its own bathrooms, kitchen, washing machine and garden.

Bedroom at Huntingdon Road

Canning and Eliza House (postgraduate)

Canning and Eliza Fok House (known simply as Canning and Eliza) is located in the heart of the College grounds and can accommodate 40 postgraduate students. Postgraduate students in Canning and Eliza have access to all College facilities: the Dome dining hall, library, tennis courts and gym are all a short walk away. All of the bedrooms are en-suite and have high-speed internet connections. Students share a spacious kitchen/living area with seven other postgraduates, making it easy for them to cook and socialise together.

Bedroom at Canning and Eliza

Kitchen at Canning and Eliza

 

College Spaces

 

The gardens

 Murray Edwards benefits from plenty of outdoor space and a fantastic gardening team. With the exception of the Fellows' Garden, you can walk on all the grass and picnic or study to your heart's content, which is a change from many colleges where there are strict instructions to stay off the lawn. The gardens also make an excellent location for the Murray Edwards Garden Party, one of the most popular May Week events in Cambridge. This isn't the only event to take place in the gardens – every autumn, the JCR Environmental Officer teams up with the gardeners to organise Apple Day. An afternoon of music, apple juice, apple crumble and marshmallows that's popular with students, staff and Fellows, Apple Day is a great way of bringing the College community together at the beginning of the year. In the summer, the beach comes to College and is a popular place to revise while catching some rays.

College Bar

The College Bar is one of the few in Cambridge that is fully student-staffed. The bar itself is open every night and hosts events throughout the year such as 'Band in the Bar' which are live music nights about once a fortnight when both the main bar and the upstairs section are pretty packed. There are also quiz nights and other socials, and societies sometimes use the bar as a relaxed place to meet up. In terms of facilities the bar is good for the chocolate vending machine in the middle of an essay crisis. They also make great paninis - great when you miss the time for Dome food or want to grab something quick. Oh and there's a MASSIVE flat-screen TV. During the day, the bar is a much more relaxed space, offering an alternative workspace to the library. Every Friday, the JCR organises [email protected] – a chance for students from all subjects and year groups to get together and socialise over tea and biscuits before the weekend begins.

JCR

Situated between Orchard Court and Pearl House, the JCR is an ideal space for socialising with friends or hosting birthday parties. Large windows at either end mean the space is light and airy and a great place to study during the day. It has comfy beanbags and sofas - frequently used by groups of friends meeting up before a night out, societies having relaxed meetings (e.g. the popular Franklin Science Society's weekly tea and biscuit socials), and students wanting a change of scene from the library to do some work.

Froud Room

The Froud Room is the College television room that you can book in advance to watch films with friends if you want a change of scenery from your college room. A wide selection of films is available to loan from the library, just across the corridor. Comfy sofas, a large TV, and a lovely view of fountain court means that it's perfect for cosy film nights with friends or for larger group screenings.

The Coach House

As well as having an amazing art collection, we also have a space dedicated to the creation of art. Whether it's painting, sketching or drama rehearsals, the Coach House has adaptable spaces suitable for all purposes. Run by the JCR Arts Officer, it's kept stocked with craft materials and displays of students' work.

Library and Computing

 

Rosemary Murray Library

Open 24 hours a day, you check your books in and out yourself. You are allowed 10 books, but the librarians are lenient if you need to go over. You can keep the books you borrow for the entire term. There is a photocopier conveniently located just outside the library.

Computer Suite

Accessible with your swipe card, it's open 24 hours a day. There are a good amount of terminals and there is usually a free computer. A range of printers/ scanners/ photocopies are available for student use, with very cheap printing costs.

Welfare

The welfare system at Cambridge, and Murray Edwards in particular, is personalised and your success (emotionally and academically) is their primary concern.

  • Offer Holders: Because of the uncertainty that some applicants have, there is an event called "Offer Holders'" where prospective students holding a conditional or unconditional offer are invited to stay at the College overnight. The Offer Holder will generally be put with a student in the first year who is studying their subject. Welcome events are put on, Offer Holders are usually taken to formal and to lectures by their hosts. Many Offer Holders are reassured by the event and look forward to coming to Murray Edwards when they make the grade in the summer.
  • College Mums: Your College Mum is generally someone in the second year studying your subject. They will usually send you a letter before you come up to Cambridge introducing themselves and trying to put you at ease. There are mother-daughter events during freshers' week, and from there you build the relationship yourself. Some people don't see their college mum much after freshers' week and have had their questions answered, where others maintain strong friendships even after graduation.
  • Directors of Studies: Every student at Cambridge has a DoS, who you will meet in your first week and after that you will generally email them, although some DoS's arrange termly meetings. They are there to organise your studies (supervisions and classes) and will often supervise you themselves at some point. Your DoS is your point of contact for academic issues, and they will support your learning. Sometimes this means they will give you a nudge if your performance could be better, but this is a rarity.
  • Tutors: Your tutors and every administrator will help you wherever possible. Every undergraduate is allocated a tutor (who does not teach your subject, for the sake of impartiality) who you'll see a couple of times a term at least, or more if you need it. Again, they are easy to contact through email. The Senior Tutor, Dr. David Jarvis, is genuinely interested in your wellbeing, and will step in to support if things are less than peachy.
  • The President: Unusually, the president endeavours to see each student individually each year to have a short chat and keep in touch. This is not standard practice at Cambridge, and shows how New Hall's senior staff are genuinely keen to ensure the welfare of their students.
  • College Nurse: The College nurse, Dee, is on hand 3 hours per weekday. She is easily accessible by email and will, in some circumstances, give out her home phone number for emergencies.
  • College Counsellor: Elrika Erasmus is the current College Counsellor. She has had more than a decade of experience working in private mental health care in London before moving to Cambridgeshire
  • Sexual health: Condoms and pregnancy tests are avaliable for free from the Welfare pigeonhole, which is stocked up by the welfare officer.
  • Bursaries: As a small and fairly new college, it doesn't have enormous funds but invariably helps poor students and provides travel bursaries, Blues sports funding, and other funding besides. If you are in genuine trouble it will pull out all the stops. All the usual university wide bursaries (e.g. Isaac Newton bursary) are available to Murray Edwards students. Murray Edwards also offer 'Gateway Challenges Funding' for students participating in enriching activities over the summer vacation and who have attended several Gateway Programme events throughout the year (see below). Students who achieve a first in any part of the tripos receive a 400 pound scholarship.

Skills Development

Murray Edwards has a unique Gateway Programme for students at the College. It is a scheme that has a lot of support from the current Senior Tutor, and covers things from "how to write an essay" to organising internships and travel. By attending the Gateway Programme you can also access funding for your own projects and goals, for example diving in the Red Sea, travelling to China, volunteering, summer research projects and internships.

Sports

In addition to the on-site gym, squash court and netball/tennis courts, Murray Edwards has a range of different teams for people of all interests and abilities, including athletics, badminton, football, hockey, lacrosse, netball, rowing, squash, swimming, and ultimate frisbee.

Atmosphere

Murray Edwards has a friendly and supportive atmosphere. It's very pro-women and everyone wants you to do the very best you can. When you first start at the university, snide people from other colleges will say "Oh, were you pooled there?" But they grow out of this by the second year and Murray Edwards is very favourably viewed by those who give it a chance.

Entertainment

We have Band in the Bar nights, which are live music nights about once a fortnight when both the main bar and the upstairs section are pretty packed. We also have ents, usually called Trash or Dome Life once a term that are well known across the university as well as our annual sell out garden party. So social life wise there's plenty going on, and unlike some colleges it's not all college centred, Murray Edwards students are involved with activities and social stuff all over the city and the uni.

Societies

Murray Edwards participates in the university leagues, competing against other colleges in Rugby, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Rowing, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Netball, Pool, Ultimate Frisbee....

There are many subject-specific societies such as the Franklin Science Society to encourage students from different year groups to meet up and help each other. They also sometimes organise events such as swaps with other college's related societies or careers related events.

The Drama Society is called 'The Arden Players'.

And yes, there's loads more - read about it here.

Facilities

Tennis Courts

Squash Court

Art Room

Developing Room

Piano Rooms

Nearest Shops - The nearest shop is the Nasreen Dar shop on Histon Road (about 2 mins walk from the Porters' Lodge). Nasreen Dar sells nearly everything and is great in an emergency. At the end of Histon Road is Aldi and Iceland - excellent for cheap food deals.

Gym - The Gym is quite good, it only costs about £45 a year for membership.

Links