Teaching and Learning
Pembroke admits students to study all the Honours Degree courses (known as ‘Triposes’) available at Cambridge.
The Cambridge Tripos courses are distinctive for their breadth and flexibility. Most courses cover their subject very broadly in the first year or two, and then become more specialised in the second or third year. This breadth allows you to choose from an exceptionally wide variety of options, and thus, to a great extent, to design your own programme of study. Unlike at other universities, it is not necessary to have a very clear idea when you apply or the detailed options you may wish to study.
Most students take successive parts of the same Tripos. However, it is possible to change subject after Part I. Not all changes are clearly possible or desirable. If you think you might like to combine two different Tripos subjects, it is sensible to consult the Admissions Tutor about your choices before you apply.
There are three terms in the academic year. In the first two, Michaelmas and Lent, there are eight teaching weeks, while in the third term, Easter, teaching is for four or five weeks with the remainder occupied by preparation for the examinations and the examinations themselves. The vacations are long, but private reading and study during them are essential elements of all Cambridge degrees. On request, second and third year students, and overseas students, can use College accommodation during vacations for academic purposes, and small vacation grants are available to help fund this.
What support will I have while studying?
Every undergraduate has a Director of Studies who arranges each term’s ‘supervisions’ (teaching in small groups, usually two or three students) and gives advice about study and University lectures. Pembroke is well provided to cover a wide range of subjects and topics with supervisors from within the College but, like all Colleges, we also arrange teaching by experts from University departments or other Colleges to match the interests and needs of our undergraduates.
In addition to a Director of Studies, each undergraduate has a personal Tutor. This is someone to whom you can go to ask advice about non-academic matters, such as personal or financial problems. The Tutors also administer the various College funds which are available for student support.
The College has a very well-stocked library, which is a quiet and pleasant place to study. It is open 8am – midnight during term time and 8am – 10pm during the vacation. In an era when many textbooks are expensive, it is one of Cambridge’s major advantages that the excellent University and departmental libraries are supplemented by the libraries of undergraduate Colleges, each providing copies of books commonly recommended by lecturers and supervisors, in addition to other facilities. Pembroke’s library has an excellent collection in all the main teaching subjects, and undergraduates are encouraged to order books for it according to need. The library has a terminal to the University data network for consultation of University catalogues and bibliographic databases. An extension to the library includes a Law Library and a lift.
All undergraduate rooms in College, and the College-owned hostels, are connected to the University-wide high speed data network. If you have your own computer you can use it in your own room for fast access to internet services such as email and the web, for which there is a small termly charge. All rooms have telephone sockets. However, it is certainly not necessary to have your own computer at Pembroke: with the additional computer room in Foundress Court, the College has over 30 PCs for student use. Many other University departments also have their own facilities. Further information for students planning to bring their own computer, including recommended hardware and software, as well as technical and cost details of networking, is sent to successful candidates.
“There couldn’t be more support in College. In terms of your academic progress and general welfare, your supervisors, Director of Studies and Tutor are with you every step of the way.” Merryn, 4th year, Modern and Medieval Languages
“All the staff are on your side, and will go out of their way to help you.” Sarah, 1st year, Natural Sciences
“We have a beautiful library staffed by dedicated and charming (provided you abstain from using your phone!) librarians. It’s a very calm, inspiring space that always makes me feel privileged and excited by the wealth of knowledge and ideas that line the walls and the possibilities they present.” Archy, 2nd year, Natural Sciences