Robinson College, Cambridge

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Robinson College


University:University of Cambridge

Address:Grange Road, CB3 9AN

Telephone:01223 339 100


Student Union/JCR website:RCSA Website

Graduate/MCR website:no

Admittance:Undergraduates and Postgraduates (men and women)

Student Statistics

  • Total Undergraduates in 2007-8 = 424 (252 men + 172 women)
  • Total Undergraduates in 2006-7 = 422 (262 men + 160 women)
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 07: 132 (76 men + 56 women)
  • Students admitted to their current course in Oct 06: 139 (78 men + 61 women)

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

Robinson Application Statistics See College applications and admissions statistics

Robinson Application Statistics per subject See Appplication Statistics

64% of Robinson acceptances in 2007 and 63% in 2006 were from state school students (source).


Robinson is located on the west side of the city on Grange Road. It is approx. fifteen minutes walk from the centre (five minutes bike ride). It is extremely close to the Arts Faculties on the Sidgwick Site, as well as being convenient for the Science Departments on the West Cambridge Site, and is literally opposite the University Library.

It rather lacks local shops and cash machines, but isn't hounded by tourists; which can be a real problem in some colleges.


About a three quarters of the accommodation is in the main college building, with a large proportion of these rooms having an en-suite bathroom. Other rooms share a bathroom between two, and a tiny number share one between three. In the second and third year there is the option to move into the large Edwardian houses along Adams Road at the side of the college. In previous years, thirty second years had to go and live in Romsey Terrace (down Mill Road), which was rather inconvenient as it happens to be over two miles from college. A change of College policy (effective 2008 onwards) now means that all undergraduates will be housed on the main site. Rooms are decided for the second year by a random ballot which is inverted in the third year.

I don't know about the "best in cambridge" for accomodation but it's certainly consistently good and plenty of en suite rooms to go round if you want one. But it comes at a price.

Rooms in the Robinson main college building are very carbon-copy, cut-and-paste type jobs... ie. all the staircases are almost identical. eg. In second year I could go into the room of anyone else who had a second floor, garden facing room and they would all be either identical to mine or a mirror image. The houses are the back are different though. But if you want the feeling that the room you're in is totally unique within your college, built to fit the nooks and crannies of a building which has stood for hundreds of years previously, and want to wonder what long-gone famous and influential people might've stayed in your room... then Robinson isn't for you. Personally I'm content with my cosy central heating and nearby working toilet.

You get provided with a kettle but that's the limit of heating things up in your room. I set off the smoke alarm with a toaster a few months ago, that was embarrassing.

(written summer 2009) This year Value rooms are £1015/term, Standard rooms are £1230/term and and Standard Plus rooms are £1360/term. Value is the smallest, sharing a bathroom and toilet with two other rooms; Standard are slightly larger, sharing a bathroom and toilet with one other room; and Standard Plus are slightly larger yet and are en-suite. The prices are fixed for the three years you're in college, so if they go down next year (which they could, technically), you're in luck. Compared to previous years, from what I understand, the prices I'm getting (i.e. the above) are quite hefty.

(written October 2009) I live at Robinson. From the outside it has been compared to a red brick "castle" or "car park" depending on who you speak to. However every year of my course I've had a room which is cosy and warm, with windows that shut properly and a (sometimes slightly over-effective) central heating system. Every room shares a bathroom with at most two others which only these rooms have access to. Lots of en-suites as well so if you really want one, you can get one. There's a clever system of balconies linking the staircases and also between pairs of rooms, which as well as meaning you have an extra fire exit is handy around may ball time as people who aren't attending can still come and go from their rooms even during the ball. Plenty of electricity, phone / network points etc come as standard as the modern inventions weren't added as an afterthought. And we're well away from the tourists! I suspect the novelty of actually living in one of those ancient buildings would wear off pretty quickly. Though one downside of Robinson is that because we're new the college doesn't make as much money from investments so rents are high - the college hosts conferences in the vacation which does have the plus that everything is kept well maintained.

Self-catering: In each kitchen you get a microwave / oven / grill thing, plus timer hobs (the hobs shut off automatically after 10 minutes - they have this feature because of the amount of fires caused by people leaving stuff to fizzle). You also get a fridge which normally ends up over-full. Two kitchens per staircase. All replaced last summer when there was a fire safety scare after a few alarms... you get idiots doing things like trying to dry clothes on the cookers, or forgetting they've left the hob on. You can bring other cooking items (eg. a toaster) but you can't really do any cooking in your room as there are super-sensitive smoke alarms. Not many people self cater, in general. I lived next to a kitchen last year and it was not very busy! The only time kitchens tend to get busier is on a Saturday and Sunday evening when the canteen don't provide food.

In your second year onwards if you're insistent on self catering it can be nice to get in a little group doing it together and try and get in one of the houses at the back as some of these have big fully-featured kitchens though these are big houses that sleep a lot of people so you have to share!

Social Spaces

There isn't much in the way of social spaces with the exception of front court, where there are a few benches at which people tend to congregate before a trip somewhere. Nice place to sit and watch the world go by when you can't be bothered with your work. There is also a TV room with Sky TV. It smells and has no windows, so many people choose to watch TV in the JCR instead.


The college gardens are some of the best in Cambridge. They are informal, and have a pond, a brook, a walkway, many plants and trees (including the infamous Yeti Tree). They are one of the few gardens in which students may walk on the grass and they are home to frisbee and picnics throughout the summer. They also, some people say, have deer and other strange rural creatures. For more information see


Robinson food was voted the best in Cambridge in February 2010 (click for article).

Food is one thing that is very well done at Robinson. Halls serve amongst the best student food in Cambridge. There are two halls a week, a slightly less formal one on Tuesday, and a more formal occasion with high table etc. on Fridays. Prices are towards the upper end of Cambridge formal tickets, but it is certainly worth the money. Desserts seem to be a particular strong point. Unlike some other colleges, no corkage fee is charged for those wishing to bring their own wine.The cafeteria food is also good, if a little expensive. They do meal deals for £2.60ish, and these will easily fill you up. Breakfast is served every weekday with a Full English costing about £2. The one annoying aspect of the cafeteria is the fact that it does not provide food on Saturday or Sunday nights (although there is bar food on some Sunday nights).

I'm not a vegetarian myself, but there is generally at least one proper veggie main course, two pasta options (at least one, normally both veggie), salad and sandwiches (including a fill-your-own-baguette thing). And a soup option, but I never have that. Plus lots to tempt you for dessert.

(August 2011) A meal in the canteen will cost ~£3.20, maybe £4 with dessert and a drink.


The Bar in Robinson is, apparently, the longest in the university. The beers are kept well and there are always two to three real ales available, alongside the array of rather disgusting commercial beers. There are also two pool tables, a foosball table, and a darts board. The bar furniture is decorated in sexy pink and green plastic. There is a projection screen which is used to show major sporting events (normally football and, if it's something really important, rugby) and sometimes TV, normally on a Sunday evening. The bar also serves cooked food (which is slightly less good than the cafeteria food and in limited supply) on some Sunday nights.

For the last seven years Robinson has hosted its very own beer festival. It has become a huge success and one of the termly highlights, and has moved from the bar itself into the main college hall. The whole college turns out for the festival where there are a huge range of well-priced cask beers served in limited edition tankards. The festival coincides with the Six Nations, which is displayed on big screens.


The JCR is currently quite bland, but is soon to become much more awesome with the installment of new furniture for the start of the 2011-12 academic year. It currently has a pool table, a load of chairs, some beanbags, two computers and a 60" HD TV with Freeview and a Blu-Ray player (great for Dr Who and Mario Kart). Since 2007 there have also been a bunch of communal board games bought for all to enjoy.


The MCR is reserved for the old, clever people at Robinson who still haven't got real jobs yet. The ~150 postgraduates make up around a quarter of the college's total student body. Postgraduates at Cambridge tend to be very international, so everyone is welcoming to people from all kinds of different backgrounds. The MCR room itself includes a kitchen, a large television, a PS4 (+Fifa), computers, lots of sofas, and a foosball table. Brunch is held in the MCR every weekend. One of the additional privileges of being in the MCR is that students get 3 free formals every term.

The MCR committee put on lots of social events, especially at the beginning of each academic year, for example: pub crawls, punting, movie nights, meet and greets, lunches, formal 'swaps' with other colleges etc... There is a nice inclusive social scene for postgraduates at Robinson, although many mix with other years through sport or general socialising.

More information can be found here:

Library and Computing


To be honest, the library facility is not the best in Cambridge. Much of the stock is quite out of date, and many subjects are hardly covered. Much of the collection was bought from a theological college around the time that the college was built. If you're looking for 1970s texts of theology then I am told this is the place to look. It has a few computers and some nice cubby-holes to work in. Often it lacks light, and you can hear people walking around. It gets very hot and busy in exam term. That being said, we are very close to the university library, which provides a much better working environment. There are also several teaching rooms that can be booked out for work. Robinson has a separate law library for Law and Land Economy students.

Computer Suite

There is one computer room, and it is relatively well stocked. Printing is 6p a sheet for B&W and 25p for colour. This is put on your college bill. It works out about as cheap as owning your own printer. There's one or two apple macs to use, if you want Quark Xpress etc.

(August 2011) Printing at Robinson is now carried out using the PWF Common balance, which means you top up a separate account and can then print at any PWF machine using that account. Printing is 5p per A4 sheet for black and white and 30p a side for colour.

Internet Connection

Room connections are the same speed as any other connection in the university. For students beginning nowadays it is included in your "Residence Charge" along with your rent etc.

The limits are as follows (as of June 2015):

Basic service: 5Gb per 24 hour rolling period and 15Gb per 7 day rolling period;

Gold service: 10Gb per 24 hour rolling period and 30Gb per 7 day rolling period.

The Gold Service costs £25 a term.

There is also wireless access (without download restrictions, but speed maybe unreliable) via Lapwing and Eduroam wireless networks around most communal college areas - Cafe, Bar, JCR, library etc.

Other Facilities


Robinson's Auditorium is used mainly for conferences but has a reputation for being one of the best college theatres in Cambridge. It is also the largest student venue by seating capacity, though not as technically well equipped as others such as the ADC Theatre. The resident theatre company, Brickhouse, generally puts on at least one show a term; in addition it is also used by outside companies such as the university Gilbert & Sullivan Society.


The college has a striking chapel with a huge colourful stained glass window by John Piper [1]. Services are held on Tuesdays and Sundays. The chapel hosts other events such as guest speakers and performances by the college music society.

The Chaplain is the undisputed nicest man in Cambridge, and a total legend.


Robinson's Laundry has six washing machines and three tumble dryers. It costs £1.30 for a wash and £0.40 for a dry (though normally you'll need two dries for a full washing machine of clothes). They seem to be pretty reliable and unless you go at a time that everyone is trying to procrastinate (eg. Saturday afternoon) you won't have to wait for someone else's washing to finish.

In the laundry room, there is an ironing board. You used to have to borrow the iron (for free) from the porters. It may now be hard-wired into a switch on the wall; I cannot remember. Nobody uses it.

Maria Björnson Outdoor Theatre

The college has an outoor venue normally used for May Week plays by Brickhouse. It consists of a wooden stage facing grass which has been landscaped to imitate the raked seating found in theatres, except visitors get to sit on the grass and sip Pimms.


There is a music room and two practice rooms containing pianos, a drumkit, a set of steel drums and some other random things. There's also a hi-fi room and a CD library containing several hundred CDs.

Art Room

The conservatory of one of the Adams Road houses has been made into a college art room for relaxing during stressful periods.


The college has a small darkroom which doesn't get used very often. A couple of 35mm SLR cameras are available.

Academic Performance

Robinson's ranking in the Tompkins Table (which ranks colleges by their Tripos exam results): 19th (2011), 19th (2010), 19th (2009), 17th (2008), 20th (2007), 18th (2006), 11th (2005), 16th (2004), 23rd (2003), 21st (2002), 14th (2001), 19th (2000).


Robinson was declared the 13th sportiest Cambridge College in Michealmas 2009 by The Tab. See The Tab article: The College Cup revealed

Sport plays a large role in general Robinson life. The beauty of college sport is that the general standard is far lower than that of university-wide teams; this allows all abilities to enjoy competitive sport.

The football team won Cuppers in 2016 for the first time in its history. The rugby team are also competitive, regularly playing in the top division.


If you had to pick the one thing about Robinson that sets it apart from most other colleges, it would be the atmosphere.

The first thing people think about Robinson tends to be the building itself: lots and lots of red bricks. Whilst Robinson certainly may not be as aesthetically pleasing as other older colleges, it is important to understand that the lack of architectural pretence trickles its way down to the student body and the general ‘vibe’ of the place as a whole.

In short, at Robinson one tends to find some of the most normal all-rounders across the whole of Cambridge. Robinson is certainly friendly, but frankly most colleges could reasonably claim the same thing. (N.B. ‘friendly’ tends to be boring) In recent years Binsonians have developed a reputation for being something a little unstereotypical of Cambridge as a whole: fun.

There are a few key factors which contribute to Robinson’s great atmosphere:

1. Robinson is a majority pool college and receives few direct applications compared to others. This essentially weeds out both the super-nerdy academics and the pretentious public school kids. The resulting intake thus tends to be fairly ‘normal’ for Cambridge: bright, friendly, sociable, often sporty, and moderately good-looking.

2. As stated, Robinson is a modern college (in fact the newest of all Cambridge’s colleges) and therefore Binsonians have little to be stuffy about.

3. The size of the college: it is neither too small nor too large. Goldilocks. You’ll get to know most sociable non-hermits within the first term, but at the same time there are enough people to find friends you actually get along with, and not just friends of convenience.

4. The social-scene at Robinson is undoubtedly one of the best in Cambridge. Obviously, like at any university, ‘socialising’ usually means drinking alcohol. Firstly, the bar is fantastic and open to everyone. The drinks are cheap, the atmosphere is good, and unlike a lot of other college alternatives it actually feels like a real bar. People go here. A lot. The Cafe is also attached to the bar itself, so it acts as a real social and communal hub. Secondly, Robinson hosts a lot of bops. There is one every single Friday (compare this to some colleges where there are only 2/3 a term.) Bops are best described as a school disco with alcohol: cheap drinks, cheesy music, totally uncool, and fun. Thirdly - and this may not appeal to everyone - but Binsonians know how to party. If you are interested in music, clubbing, socialising and going out, you’ll fit right in at Robinson. If not, that’s fine, there’s plenty else you can do here, or just apply to Warwick!

5. The different years mix together. This creates a genuine collegiate feel about Robinson. From freshers to postgraduates, people know each other and form long-lasting friendships. This is certainly unlike any other university in the UK, and isn’t always the case at other Oxbridge colleges, especially the larger ones.

6. The May Ball at Robison is a notorious affair. It’s the cheapest Ball in Cambridge (under £100) and offers a fantastic night at real value. It may seem like the antithesis to St John’s or Trinity May Balls, but that’s kind of the point.