St John's College, Cambridge

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St John's College

Established: 1511

University: University of Cambridge

Address: St John's Street, Cambridge, CB2 1TP

Telephone: 01223 338600


Student Union/JCR website:

Graduate Union/SBR website:

Admittance: Men and women


St John's


St John's College, (informally known as 'John's' or more fully as 'The College of Saint John the Evangelist of the University of Cambridge') is one of the largest colleges of the University of Cambridge, and the third largest in terms of membership after Homerton College and the neighbouring Trinity College. The institution owes its foundation to Henry VII's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, whose actions led to the opening of the college in 1511. Her likeness hangs in St John's Hall, and her devices (the portcullis and flower) adorn the college's main gate.

St John's is the second richest of the Oxbridge colleges and lays claim to some of the finest architecture in Cambridge, most notably the picturesque Bridge of Sighs, its fine Tudor Second Court (purported to be the finest example of its kind in England), and its magnificent Chapel, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott (the spire of which can be seen from throughout the town).

The College caters for around 550 undergraduates and 330 postgraduates at any one time, and admits both men and women. Like many other of the larger Cambridge colleges, its position on the Tompkins Table fluctuates from year to year. In recent years St John's has ranked between 4th and 20th, and maintains an envious academic reputation, as well as being famed for the calibre of its sporting students.

Student Statistics

Current Students:

2019-20 Statistics:

  • Total Undergraduates: 658 (385 men + 273 women)
  • Total Postgraduates: 319 (181 men + 138 women)
  • By fee status: 597 home (UK), 158 EU, 222 overseas
  • By general subject: 443 Arts&Humanities, 534 STEMM
  • Total mature students: 132

Students admitted to their current course in Oct ‘19: 175 (106 men + 69 women)
Students admitted to their current course in Oct ‘18: 171 (100 men + 71 women)

For current year statistics, follow this link

Undergraduate Applications:

For all application statistics since 2010, follow this link. You can either generate an interactive graph with statistics grouped by College or by course, or download PDFs of all statistics for each Admissions cycle since 2011.

The proportion of students admitted from maintained schools varies year on year and depends entirely on the proportion of students that apply and the quality of their application (once contextualised by their circumstances).

Applications to begin study October 2019:

  Applications Offers Acceptances Total 532 146 119 % maintained schools 63.2% 57.5% 56.3% University average 71.4% 68.3% 65.2%

Applications to begin study October 2018:

  Applications Offers Acceptances Total 586 163 138 % maintained schools 58.5% 50.3% 48.6% University average 69.1% 66.9% 64.1%





Second court; arguably the finest of its kind in Oxford or Cambridge

Despite claiming its foundation to Lady Margaret Beaufort, it was Saint John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester who carried through her instruction, founding the college on the site of a pre-existing hospital dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist. First Court has undergone heavily alteration since its original construction, the most obvious of these being the demolition of the Elizabethan chapel, the foundations of which are clearly visible to the right of the main pathway. The current chapel, superbly designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, contains relics of the preivious chapel.


St John's College Chapel at Night


St John's


St John's is very central, the definition of 'central' in Cambridge being determined by walking distance to Sainsbury's. It is one of the few colleges to span the Cam and has its own fleet of punts for use of college members. Two bridges, the Bridge of Sighs (one of the most beautiful in Cambridge) and the Kitchen Bridge connect the two parts of the college. On very close inspection (and from a punt!) it is possible to make out the fact that one side of the Bridge of Sighs is more ornate than the other - a result of the fact that only one side of the bridge is generally visible, unless from the river.

Of the central colleges, St John's is perhaps the most conveniently located college for access to the CMS (Mathematics) and West Cambridge site (Natural Sciences and Computer Science). Most lectures sites are also within a 10 minute walking radius.

John's has a large area of playing fields more or less behind the college and therefore more or less in central Cambridge. These playing fields are shared with St John's College School. The school was founded to provide an education to boys in the famous choir.



John's accommodation is generally excellent. Allocation works on the basis of a ballot, which in first year is random and in subsequent years is academic. You will be given a position in the ballot and will then be able to pick when it comes to your turn.




The Bridge of Sighs, which links Third Court to New Court

First Years are housed in the newly refurbished (for 2014 entry) Cripps - at worst a grade 2 listed 1960s edition in Portland Limestone, at best a triumph of modernist architecture. Personally, I think it's one of the more tasteful of the modern buildings in Cambridge; it's shielded from view most of the time, built in such a way that nobody living in it has to see it, and the interior design is superb. Apparently it even won an award. Supposedly. Since the refurbishment, the majority of the rooms are either ensuite or come with their own bathroom in the hallway, the disadvantage of the latter type being that should you forget your card in your room, you might find yourself walking across college in a towel to the porters lodge. If you are near the top of the ballot, you can get a penthouse, which has a sizeable living room (about the same size as a standard room), plus your own bedroom upstairs. This is easily the best fresher accommodation in Cambridge.

Second Years mainly inhabit New Court, linked to the rest of the university by the Bridge of Sighs. New Court is arguably the most beautiful of Cambridge's Neo-Gothic buildings; it was built 1817 and is known affectionately as the 'Wedding Cake' due to its elaborate crowning features. The New Court is about as close to 'Harry Potter' as Cambridge gets. Most students here share a set of rooms, like a small flat with its own bathroom and kitchen - sometimes it is necessary to walk through the other person's room either to get to the bathroom or to the door. The advantages are the architecture, the size of the rooms and proximity to the front of College. The atmosphere, with most second years living in the same place, is splendid. Second years can also choose a set or bedsit in one of the inner courts, or occasionally in a house about two minutes away from college.

Third and Fourth Year Students have a choice of numerous accommodation sorts. Some live in Cripps, others in the wondrous inner college courts whilst some remain in New Court. The infamous triple sets in Second Court are extremely spacious, with dining tables to seat 8 and several sofas in the living room, and three individual bedrooms coming off in various directions. If you get one of these rooms, expect to be host to several parties throughout term.

Kitchens: unless you are living in a college-owned house outside of college, you will not have access to an oven. Kitchens are typically shared by 2-8 people.

Rents: These can range from £850 per term (for a small room, still bigger than standard accommodation in some colleges) to £1400 per term (for a penthouse in Cripps). Generally the rents in Cripps hover around the £1200 mark and New Court sets are on average £1000 per person. Rooms are kept in the holidays with no extra charge, which is particularly convenient for international students, as you do not have to empty your room like at other colleges.

Hall dinner


Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily in the informal Buttery dining hall. Meals cost between £1.80 (vegetarian) and £2.40 (steak), with each side around 50p. The food is generally excellent - recently we have even had lobster. On Saturdays we have brunch.

Formal Hall (usually just referred to as 'Hall' in St John's) costs around £9 with three or four glasses of wine served at the table, or £5.50 without wine. The head of catering holds a Michelin star, so the food is always superb, and the wine is also generally excellent - much better than what you could get for the same price in Sainsbury's. St John's is one of the few colleges where there is no dress code for formal hall, except that gowns must be worn. The atmosphere is fairly relaxed and pennying is not banned, unlike many colleges.

Many of the college societies hold an annual dinner in the Senior Combination Room. These are not occasions to miss - this is one of the nicest dining rooms in Cambridge, and the food is lush.

Social Spaces

John's JCR is home to a widescreen TV, cheap pool-table and some of the comfiest sofas in Cambridge. Varsity magazine voted John's Bar best of all the Cambridge Colleges, and not without good reason. It sells cheap, plentiful alcohol and has a pleasant, pub-like atmosphere.

Academic Performance

St John's has an enviable reputation in the sciences, particularly in mathematics.

St John's ranking in the Tompkins Table (which ranks colleges by their Tripos exam results): 13th (2013), 14th (2012), 13th (2011), 20th (2010), 14th (2009), 20th (2008), 19th (2007), 15th (2006), 12th (2005), 14th (2004), 13th (2003), 11th (2002), 4th (2001), 4th (2000).


St John's has a rich sporting history. The college offers extensive college sport's facilities with the sports ground conveniently placed right at the back of the college and complete with several pitches, a large astroturf pitch, tennis courts, squash courts and a recently refurbished pavilion. Donations mean that significant funding is available for all sporting societies, and the facilities are hired out for use by several other college sports teams.

The college has a reputation for its dominance in college rugby. The Redboys as the team is known are one of the most successful college teams ever winning the Division One league title 9 times in a row before losing to Jesus 2010/11. The rugby club has produced several notable alumni including current RFU executive Francis Baron, former Newcastle and England fly-half and current RFU Director of Elite Rugby Rob Andrew, and Battlestar Galactica actor Jamie Bamber.

The college rowing club, the Lady Margaret Boat Club (LMBC), is the oldest in the University, and was founded in 1825. Despite many gruesome rumours concerning the name of the club, it was merely the most successful of the many boat clubs established in the College in the 19th century. In a similar fashion the traditional rival of the LMBC, the Boat Club of Trinity College, is known as 'First and Third' in a reference to its formation from two original clubs.


St John's has one of the largest and most well stocked college libraries. The library has been recently refurbished, and now offers plenty of individual or group work spaces.



  • Bandwidth limits: 10GB per day - I don't think this is enforced unless you go over about 15GB
  • P2P Software banned


  • Buttery (canteen) and dining hall
  • College Bar
  • Chapel (image)
  • Health Centre with college nurse
  • 24/7 College Library more than 105,000 books and journals
  • Old Library - where the older manuscripts are kept
  • 3 Computer rooms with comupters, scanners and printers
  • JCR (Junior Combination Room, the Undergraduate Common Room)
  • SBR (Samuel Butler Room, the Graduate Common Room)
  • 4 Music Practice Rooms (including one with a Boston baby grand piano and another with 2 pianos). A Steinway piano in the New Music Room and a harpsichord in the Old Library are also available for advanced musicians to play.
  • College Theatre
  • Art Room
  • Fitness centre - with a range of cardiovascular and individual resistance equipment
  • Free Weights Area - with a multi-station resistance machine and free weights equipment
  • Sports grounds adjacent to main site (with pitches for football, rugby, cricket, hockey and lacrosse)
  • Tennis courts
  • Badminton courts
  • Squash courts
  • College punts
  • Boat House by the river (image)
Upper library



St John's May Ball


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


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