The Semester Experience

Each Cambridge College is a separate institution with its own structure, culture, and philosophy. Colleges provide personal and academic support for students and allocate housing. The Fall Semester Programme is administered by Pembroke College and all semester students will matriculate as Pembroke College members.

As a Semester student you will be a Cambridge student and consequently there are plenty of extracurricular activities you can get involved in. Whether you’re interested in sports, music, acting, politics or journalism, there will be a student club, or Society as they are called in Cambridge, you can join.

Colleges are hubs of social activity. Each college has a bar and a Junior Common Room (JCR) which is the focus of undergraduate life. Pembroke’s JCR is actually called the Junior Parlour (JP) and its website gives a flavour of what College life has to offer.

At the University level too there will be more opportunities for you to explore extracurricular interests. The Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) represents Cambridge students at the University level, and provides central services, support and entertainment for all students. University societies involve students from all the Colleges and there is a huge variety of societies.

In addition to the opportunities available at the College and University levels, the International Programmes Department at Pembroke organises further activities for you. The semester begins with a welcome buffet and orientation and highlights include a special drinks reception hosted by the Master of Pembroke, a Formal Hall to which you can invite your supervisor, and a visit to nearby Ely with its magnificent cathedral.

The Semester Experience

The best way to learn about the semester experience is to hear from past students themselves. Take a look at our video on the social side of the Semester Programmes:

Living in Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the most remarkable places in Europe with an unbroken and impressive link, dating back over 800 years, to first class education and scholarship. Its famous alumni, including Newton, Darwin and Turing; Erasmus, Wittgenstein and Greer; Wordsworth, Byron and Tennyson; Thackeray, Rushdie and Byatt; Thompson, Mendes and Weisz, have illuminated all branches of learning, endeavour and enterprise. Poets, politicians and philosophers have lived and worked here and continue to inspire those who follow them.

The highlights

  • The 31 colleges – one of the finest collections of buildings in Europe with examples of the best of British secular and religious architecture spanning more than 700 years and featuring work by Wren, Wilkins, Gilbert Scott, Powell and Moya, Foster, Stirling and countless other architects and master masons who have left such a remarkable legacy.
  • PKP Cambridge 2011The University, dating from 1209, is one of the oldest and most innovative, and by some measures the leading university in the World.
  • The City, almost unique in its feel, history and traditions and now a vibrant, dynamic place much visited and admired for its science park, museums, shops, restaurants and festivals.
  • The Backs – Cambridge’s ‘Venetian’ waterway, the river Cam, meanders lazily through college gardens bringing something of the countryside and opportunities for elegant boating.
  • London – needing no introduction is only 50 minutes away by train.
  • The outdoor Shakespeare festival offering a variety of works played in delightful college garden settings.
  • Grantchester and the Orchard Tea Room – the rural haunt of the Bloomsbury group where Rupert Brooke, Bertrand Russell, Virginia Woolf, Keynes, Wittgenstein and others took tea and pleasure in the Edwardian countryside.
  • Gardens and green spaces – the University Botanic Garden and the college gardens are outstanding, while ancient water meadows reach to within a few yards of the city centre.
  • The City of Ely dominated by the great Norman cathedral founded in the late 11th century.