The Freshers' Guide
Welcome to Sidney! Please use the links on the left to navigate this part of the website. The latest guide, compiled by the 2015-2016 MCR Committee can be accessed here.
This guide has been written by MCR students past and present for new graduate students, although potential applicants and current students will also find it useful. It provides fundamental information on many aspects of college life and we have provided contact details and links wherever possible. It should also help you find your way around Cambridge (with info on shopping, eating out, entertainment, etc).
There is a great deal to do in the MCR, the college and the university – far too much for this guide to be exhaustive. For further info, see:
If you are about to join Sidney as a new graduate student, please also see the webpage for new students, which includes information about what to bring, how to get here and what to do in your first week.
We wish you a happy and successful time in Cambridge!
The content of this guide has been provided by past and present members of the MCR Committee. The guide was revamped by S.Hopkins in summer 2004, and he and others regularly revised the information up until 2008, with the updates by C. Crowe in 2010, W. Menz in 2012, and Tony Harris in 2015. Please contact the current Computer Officer concerning any errors, omissions, comments or requests. If you have any questions that this guide fails to answer feel free to contact any member of the MCR Committee.
Sidney freshers will always be offered college accommodation (but the college cannot accommodate the children of students, and accommodation for couples is limited). The allocation of college accommodation for graduates is administered by the Graduate Tutor's secretary. If you wish to accept college accommodation, you will be asked to sign a room occupancy agreement with the college shortly after your arrival for a period of 9-12 months; the default end date is 30 June but you will be asked if you wish to extend your lease during Easter term. You will be billed for your room rent at the beginning of each term. A map of the currently available accommodation can be found here.
Private sector accommodation
The majority of grads in residence for more than a year will have to find private sector accommodation after their first year. Some, and particularly those with partners or families, might also prefer to do so from the start. Private sector accommodation obviously lacks the services provided in college (most significantly, cleaning services, fast university network connections, and flexibility over your moving-out date in the summer), and comes with additional costs; however the KFC (Kitchen Fixed Charge) to be paid to college is vastly reduced and private accommodation for sharers or couples is often similarly priced to college accommodation.
There are many letting agents operating in Cambridge, and there are also online notice boards and newsgroups advertising rooms, flats and houses available for rent. The GU's accommodation page provides some useful background information and links.
The University also runs an Accommodation Service to help members of the university to find accommodation (most of which is privately owned).
The Accommodation Service is based at Kellet Lodge on Tennis Court Road. They maintain a database with details of privately rented properties including flats, houses, rooms in shared houses and rooms where the owner lives. You can obtain information and advice from their office in person (no appointment necessary), and you can register to use an online property search facility for which current students can register. Properties are available on both long and short-term basis, but it is often more difficult to obtain self-contained accommodation for periods of less than six months.
The Service also has the details of self-contained flats owned by the University, which are available to postgraduate students, academics, staff and visiting scholars. The minimum let is normally six months up to a maximum stay of two years, but there is a waiting list and priority is given to those new to Cambridge.
The Accommodation Service sells maps and phone cards, and provides a helpful information leaflet. Useful guidance on rents, letting arrangements and tenancy agreements will be given, as well as information on schools, banking, medical practices and other local facilities.
Cambridge is one of the most picturesque towns in England, and one of the best ways to see it is by bike! Add to that the fact that many departments and much college accommodation are outside town, and a bicycle seems an even more attractive proposition! Bikes are also essential for those who are considering rowing as it makes the early mornings less painful (if only a little). Many villages are also an easy ride away, such as Grantchester, and much of the countryside around Cambridge is flat.
While there are over 25 places to buy bikes within a short walk from town, Sidney students have had success with bikes bought from:
As a rough guide, a basic bike package should cost around £110. Make sure that you get mud-guards and lights, and a basket can also be helpful (and so Cambridge) - try and convince the shop to throw them in. Buying in a group has also proved persuasive to reduce prices. Also ask about post-sales support - many shops provide one free service.
Watch out for the one way streets (these are shown on the cycling map) and make sure you have lights for night-riding, as the police can be quite vigilant.
For quick repairs the Bike Man in Market Square and King Street Cycles have good reputations.
Sidney Sussex Chapel stands at the heart of College and is open all day. The chapel is of Church of England denomination and has by requirement of the college statutes an Anglican chaplain. However, the Chapel is open to everyone regardless of their beliefs for a wide variety of purposes, from quiet reflection or prayer (for which times are set aside) to substantially less quiet musical activities.
The current chaplain, Revd. Paul Brice, assumed the post in September 2012. The chaplain is available to everyone as a member of the pastoral team, regardless of faith, in addition to his religious role. He can often be contacted in his college room, Y1, or at other times by email.
For Christians, there is also a College Christian Union that meets each Wednesday evening for prayer, worship, bible study and fellowship. Elsewhere in the University, there are many religion-related student societies. As well as the college chapels, Cambridge is well served by places of worship for many religions, including services in non-English languages and traditions.
A wide variety of events are arranged in College – some are exclusively for graduates, but most of the others are graduate-friendly. MCR events when confirmed should crop up on our online Events Calendar. You may also find events of interest in the College calendar.
In addition to Sidney's sports and music societies, graduates are encouraged to participate in the following activities.
For your first week at Sidney, the MCR arranges a comprehensive calendar of events. These are intended to help new students to meet each other, the MCR Committee and other existing graduate students, as well as showing you around the college, the city and its surroundings. If you join us, you will be introduced to Cambridge's pubs, museums, cafés, and even its ghosts – and, of course, the river Cam (there is usually a punting trip and a walk to Grantchester). Only the official college events during the week are compulsory – matriculation, the matriculation dinner and photo, and the graduate induction meeting – but we hope you will join us for as many of the MCR events as possible. Many of you will have departmental commitments during at least some of the days of Freshers' Week, so most of our social events are in the evenings – it is usually possible to escape work for a short time, though, so please also consider joining our daytime tours. You will have plenty of time to work and socialise in your faculty or department throughout the year – even if you don't expect to spend much time at Sidney, it is worth making the exception for Freshers' Week so that you can meet everyone and see what the MCR can offer.
Up-to-date info on Freshers' Week, and what to do when you arrive in Sidney, is on this page, and you should also receive a paper copy of the timetable when you arrive.
Formal Hall is held on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights each week, and is a meal served in the College Hall at 7.30pm. Formal Halls offer a three-course meal and cost £7-8 for Sidney members and about £10 for guests from outside the college. Tickets for formal halls are purchased from the Porters' Lodge and must be booked by the morning of the preceding day (or Friday for the Sunday night hall). Early booking is advised as Formal Halls are open to the entire college and spaces fill up quickly.
You may purchase tickets for a maximum of three guests but block bookings are not allowed. At the time of booking tickets you must specify any special dietary requirements and allergies. Dress code for formal and super halls is smart, and members of the College must wear gowns; guests are spared this requirement. Only drinks purchased from the College Buttery may be consumed in Hall (a regrettably enforced regulation).
A Graduate Formal is usually held every other Tuesday or Thursday during term-time. These are dinners arranged by the MCR for graduate students and their guests only, and consist of pre-dinner drinks, a three--course meal and coffee in Hall, and post-dinner drinks. The total cost for 2012 is £13-14 and £16-17 for guests (the exact amount is calculated by staff afterwards according to drinks consumption), and charged to graduates' college bills. The first graduate formal will be held the week after Freshers' Week (i.e. the second week of Michaelmas Term). In order to attend a guest night, you must sign up online on the MCR website, indicating your full name and any dietary requirements. Usually, you must sign up by noon on the preceding Friday, and can invite up to two guests (this limit may be increased or further restricted depending on how popular the event is). Graduate formals are often themed e.g. Hallowe'en, Christmas and Burns' Night; several formals will be fancy dress or black tie events and you are encouraged (but never required) to join in! Dress code is smart and gowns must be worn if you are not in black tie or fancy dress.
Graduate Tutor's Dinners
The Graduate Tutors hold a series of complimentary dinners throughout the year for graduates. These are held in the ambient surroundings of the Old Library on the alternate Tuesdays to graduate guest nights. Attendance is by invitation only (to ensure everyone has a turn), and the menu invariably features delectable food and better-than-Buttery-quality wine.
Non-Culinary Graduate Events and Activities
MCR Social Fund
The social events arranged by the MCR in Freshers' Week and throughout the year are subsidised by a Social Fund. The events in Freshers' Week are fully subsidised, so they are free to attend, as are many other events; in some other cases, we have to charge a modest admission fee. The Social Fund receives all its money from (optional) donations from MCR members, administered as an opt-out payment on your college bill. This payment is currently around £15 a year and you will be given an opportunity to opt out of this payment by the Treasurer towards the end of Michaelmas term; if you do so, this in no way affects your membership of the MCR or your entitlement to attend events – but we very much hope that you will enjoy our events and be happy to support them in this way. Without these contributions, we could not run such a comprehensive and well-received Freshers' Week programme, our series of film nights or our other social events; suggestions for how we spend your money, and what events you would like to see, are always gratefully received. Please visit our MCR Accounts page for more info.
Sidney May Ball
Held every even-numbered year in May Week (which is in mid-June, of course), the Sidney May Ball continues to receive rave reviews: Varsity championed the ball as "replete with delights to entrance the visitor at every turn", and offering "something to entertain every taste". See www.mayball.com for further details. If you fancy an extra-Sidney experience, or in odd-numbered years, you can apply for tickets to other college Balls as well.
The bar is run by the JCR (Junior Combination Room) and has the distinction of being the only 100% student-run bar in the University. It is open 7 nights a week, from 8pm to 11pm Monday to Thursday, 8pm to 11.30pm Friday and Saturday, and 8pm to 10.30pm on Sundays during Full Term. The bar provides discounted drinks and boasts among its extensive facilities a darts board, table soccer and a pool table. Guests must be signed in at the bar by a member of College. See the bar's own website for news and the price list.
These are appallingly kitsch but excellent fun (if you have drunk enough) dance events held in the bar every second Friday during term time. For a nominal fee (around £2) you can gain entry to an extremely cheesy themed dance event - a must for fancy dress enthusiasts. For those of you seeking a slightly more serious dance experience, try bops at other colleges, notably Darwin and Caius.
This page summarises computing facilties throughout the University; please click here to read more comprehensive information.
College IT Facilities
The college has a computer room located above the Library, which is home to an array of PCs including a small contingent of Macs. Printing and scanning facilities are available. All student rooms on the college site, Cromwell Court and the nearest college-owned houses ("hostels") on Portugal Street and Park Parade have Ethernet connections. Sidney's IT office also supports commercial broadband internet access in outlying hostels without college network connections (College pays the cost of connection-sharing hardware and basic line rental).
Departmental IT Facilities
Usually each research group will run the combination of software and machines that best suits its purpose. Within each research group there will usually be an appointed computer administrator who is responsible for maintenance of the computer resources. The type of system likely to be encountered, therefore, varies with some groups having more up to date and extensive facilities than others. Some departments and/or research groups may furnish their students with laptop computers.
Many departments will have computer rooms with links to the Public Workstation Facility (PWF), where students at that department can gain access to up-to-date networked facilities. These can be a little busy during Full Term as they are usually used for teaching purposes as well. Departments may also run their own courses on the use of software particularly of interest to their field of study. Each department will have one or more Computer Officers who oversee the use and security of all computers within their department.
University IT Facilities
The University Computing Service, based centrally on the New Museums Site, administers the provision of computing resources for the university, and provides a help desk and a software sales service (both of which are also available online). Courses covering the use of many popular software packages are run throughout the year - these are free to students at the university. At the Computing Service there are public computer rooms available for all students with a variety of networked PCs, including Macintosh, Win 2000 and Linux systems, with printing and scanning facilities.
All Cambridge students are provided with an e-mail account on the main University mail server, Hermes, which can be accessed using a Webmail service (as well as POP, IMAP and SMTP). Graduates are entitled to apply for other services; those living in private accommodation, or otherwise using a commerical internet connection, can configure remote access to the Cambridge networks - click here for more details.
For high performance computing needs, a number of research groups and departments participate in CamGrid, a distributed computing grid.
Prior to any PC being connected to the College network it must be deemed safe and assigned an IP address. You are strongly encouraged to regularly obtain service packs and critical updates for your operating system, web browser and e-mail client. The University provides free virus checking software and information at http://www-tus.csx.cam.ac.uk/virus/. If you intend to network your own computer in your department, you should contact your research group or department network administrator - arrangements vary considerably between departments.
When at Cambridge, you will be invited to a large number of events, often with some kind of dress code. Here's a quick guide to expected dress, according to the dress code written on the invitation or in the e-mail.
There is no specified dress code or accepted convention for general daywear, attending lectures or sitting examinations - feel free to wear whatever you like (within legal limits!). A few formal university and college situations will require you to wear the correct gown if you choose to attend and are entitled to do so - university Discussions or other meetings in Senate House, College Council meetings in college, and most formal dinners in Hall. When wearing a gown, you are generally required to also be smartly dressed - the college rules provide some guidelines on what clothing is suitable in combination with a gown, but you should usually assume "smart".
Example: the Graduate Tutor's Suppers in the Old Library usually have this dress code.
Smart (often with the addition of "with gowns")
Example: Matriculation Dinner and Formal Halls have this dress code.
Black Tie (occasionally with the addition of "with gowns")
Example: Graduation dinner is 'black tie with gowns'. Some special MCR Guest Night meals are black tie, but without gowns. Most college May Balls and many other formal events also require black tie.
Ladies wear cocktail dresses.
Garden Parties / Blazers
Example: there are many Garden Parties during May Week in Cambridge (which, perversely, takes place in June). The dress codes for these varies, but 'blazers' is common.
No events at Sidney Sussex routinely specify white tie, and it's quite unlikely you will need this formal a suit whilst in Cambridge. Exceptions include a couple of other College's May Balls (e.g. Magdalene). More details on what's expected and how to hire will usually be provided by the ball's organizers.
Fancy dress normally comes with a theme. Use your imagination! In past times, 'fancy dress' was used to refer to black tie, but this is no longer common usage. If in doubt, check.
Eating in Hall
Like other colleges, Sidney Sussex offers subsidised dining in college during Full Term. Three self-service meals are usually served in Hall each day. Depending on the term, breakfast is either hot (i.e. full English breakfast) or cold (i.e. cereal). You can have a salad, a hot meal and a dessert for lunch and dinner for about £3 per meal in total. Vegetarian options are available. In addition to the self-service meals, there are formal halls, graduate guest nights and other events in Hall with waiter service - see College Events. The college kitchens are closed outside Full Term.
Be forewarned that students subsidise the cost of college dining. All students living in college accommodation are charged a fixed kitchen charge each term which is added to your college bill. The kitchen fixed charge (or KFC) is currently differentiated based on where you live and falls in the £100-150/term range for those living in college accommodation. It is assumed that the closer you live to the college, the more likely it is that you are going to use the dining hall, and therefore those students who live in College face the highest rate of KFC while those living in college-ownded houses some distance away pay less. Students in private accommodation will incur a charge of £38.50/term in 2012-13. However this matter will be revisited by the Bursar, so if you will be studying at Sidney for several years you may notice changes in the level of KFC.
Buying food outside college
If you prefer cooking yourself (or when left to your own devices in between terms), Sainsbury's is just across the street from college. There are regular discounts each week and items on sale before closing each day. If you don't mind a nice walk or have a bicycle, there is also Tesco's on Newmarket Road, offering bigger choice and better prices. Fruit and vegetables are more fresh and less costly at the Market Square. If you're a fan of sushi and other delicatessen products, try Marks and Spencer. There is also a Waitrose in Trumpington, a short 15 minute cycle ride away from college. See the Shopping page for more information.
For fresh meat at very reasonable prices go to Andrew's Butchers near the Grafton Centre, in the middle of Burleigh Street (NB: not open on Mondays or Sundays). You can get a good selection of meats from the butcher at the Market Square on Wednesdays and Saturdays (for Halal meat, try Mill Road). Fresh fish is on offer at the Market Square from Tuesday to Saturday.
If you're interested in organic food or food with less preservatives, check out Cambridge Health Foods at 5 Bridge Street. It is close to college and offers a good, if small, range of food items at reasonable prices.
Cambridge also has a variety of ethnic stores on Mill Road. You can find ethnic groceries and spices as well as, for example, Chinese-style kitchenware. Spices and nuts are available at the Market Square as well.
Applicants: Funding for Fees and Maintenance
One of the conditions of an offer from the University is financial: you must demonstrate that you have the money to pay your university and college fees and support yourself for the full duration of your course before you can take up your place.
Sidney Sussex offers a small number of awards and scholarships for postgraduate students, which are listed on the college's sscholarships, studentships and bursaries page. These provide a minimum of £1000 per annum, and up to full costs and fees at the home rate, according to need, and as of 2009 include:
Full details are published in the Reporter (the journal of the university's official business) each year. If applying for one of these awards, you should still apply to the Board of Graduate Studies for your course in the usual way.
The dominant sources of funding for home students on research degrees are the Research Councils. Many awards are made directly by departments and faculties (especially in the sciences), and in many other cases applications are processed through them, so you should contact your faculty for more information. Some councils (e.g. the AHRC or ESRC) impose strict application deadlines (around the end of April).
All overseas and EU students can apply for funding from the Cambridge Trusts (including the Gates Cambridge Trust, the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, the Cambridge Overseas Trust and the Cambridge European Trust). This is administered centrally by the Board of Graduate Studies: you simply need to complete the appropriate sections of the application form. If you apply for an award from the Trusts, you will be automatically considered for any other awards they administer for which you are eligible.
The university and colleges provide or administer a variety of other scholarships and awards, which are advertised in a special issue of the Reporter, "Awards, Funds, Studentships, and Prizes", usually published in November.
Current Students: Additional Funds
Sidney graduate students can apply for money from a research fund to support additional research expenses, e.g. for attending conferences or visiting archives. These cannot be used to cover costs which should usually be met by departments, or for personal purchases such as books and computer equipment, and written support from your supervisor is required. PhD students can claim up to £500 per academic year, up to a course total of £1050, at any time. Students on research MPhil courses can apply for up to £350 during regularly advertised competitions.
Later in your studies you may also be eligible to apply for a college research fellowship. If a change of circumstances leaves you in unexpected financial difficulties, the college also has funds to help (but these cannot be relied upon as a primary source of funding). Please see the college's webpage for additional financial support.
You will be required to wear academic gowns for the matriculation dinner and photo when joining Sidney Sussex (at the start of your first term) and for your graduation. Gowns are also required for formal halls in College and at some other colleges for exchange dinners (see further below). While gowns can be rented for each occasion, it is usually cost-effective to purchase your own if you will attend at least a few dinners (and especially if you buy second hand).
The university maintains a list of gown retailers; you might also like to refer to the list below, which includes links to maps showing the location of each shop.
Second hand gowns are often for sale at the Graduate Union and Ryder and Amies. Keep your eyes peeled for advertisements on sales at each of these venues.
The University's rules for academical dress are defined in the Statutes and Ordinances (specifically, Chapter 2 of the Ordinances). You should not generally need to consult this detailed document, unless you are curious! If you are not a Cambridge graduate, you should wear the BA gown if you are under 24 and the MA gown if you are 24 or over - in each case, this should be the gown with the strings removed (technically, you have Bachelor or Master of Arts status rather than the Cambridge BA or MA degrees themselves). Cambridge graduates should ordinarily wear the gown of their highest degree. Hoods are worn only for graduation (for which different rules apply). For the curious, there is information (with pictures!) available from the website of the Heraldry and Genealogy Society.
Sidney has established an Environmental Committee (the SSCEC) and introduced ambitious energy efficiency measures. All students are expected to show an awareness of green issues and this website hosts its own dedicated guide: please visit the Sidney MCR Green Committee webpages.
If you have any environment-related questions not answered by those pages, please contact the MCR Green Officer.
The Graduate Union moved to its new site on the corner of Silver and Trumpington Streets (map) in 2004. It aims to represent graduate students in the University of Cambridge, supply them with information and advice, offer a variety of services and arrange events (including freshers' week events, in the unlikely event that Sidney MCR's freshers' week isn't keeping you busy!). The GU was, up until 1981, known as the GradSoc and is the only student union in Britain catering exclusively to graduates. Over the 80s and 90s their central services changed with changing graduate needs and so they concentrate more on information and advice provision than ever before.
Somewhere along the way, the GU shop was opened, which provides convenient access to services including gown hire and thesis binding, along with affordable (and sometimes discounted) and student, travel and phone cards, photocopying and stationery.
Since 1991 there has been a full-time sabbatical graduate student president (unique in the UK, and quite possibly the world), strengthening their ability to represent and serve the members. To develop and grow, the GU needs your support, encouragement and – especially – participation. Colleges (including Sidney) are represented on their Council, but there are also GU Board officers with specific remits who you are welcome to contact for help or advice.
The GU website is a usual source of information on many topics:
Sidney opened its new gym at the end of 2010. It is small but has both a cardio and weights room. Before you can use it, you will need to have an induction session with the gym officer; there is also a small annual membership fee.
The University gym has recently moved to the newly built Cambridge Sports Centre based at West Cambridge (map). It costs about £140/£220 (off-peak/peak) for a year's membership and is open to all students and staff of the university. The new gym is very well equipped with treadmills, cycles, rowers and steppers. It also boasts state of the art Cybex resistance and plate loaded machines and a variety of free weights. All new members have to make an appointment for an initial induction.
Cambridge has a range of hairdressing salons that offer students competitive rates. Many are located near Sidney Sussex. In most hair salons the rates depend on the length of experience of the hairdresser. It is advisable to book a few days in advance, and in busy seasons like Christmas and before May week at least a week before.
Directors Hair at 8 Green Street offers students a discount from Monday to Thursday. Hair.co.uk at 23 Green Street also offers basic styling at a discounted rate on Mondays only. Regis Hairstylists at 72 Bridge Street do a student discount from Mondays to Wednesdays. Matthew Luke at 53 Trumpington St offer a mens' haircut for £10 from Mondays to Fridays. Please check the tariff and timing and size of the student discounts, but these prices should be in the £20-30 range and the discounts around 20%.
Some salons offer reduced rates for students who agree to sit as hair models for stylists. Directors Hair offers cuts by trainees for ~£5. Hair.co.uk trainees charge ~£5 for men and ~£20 for highlights but do short cuts for women for ~£10.
If cost is not a major concern, try the Toni & Guy salon near the Round Church at 10 Bridge Street. The prices for a basic wash and cut are in the range £30-45. There are also two salons in Hobson Street behind college - Reeds and Sanrizz - offering rates and quality similar to Toni & Guy.
Cambridge offers very little by the way of stylists trained with relaxers, weaves and braids. The Wacky Hair at 14 Milton Road do hair extensions, dreadlocks and braiding. London is always a less convenient but perhaps more satisfying option for the more demanding.
Of the hairdressers near college only Sanrizz in Hobson Street offers manicure, but not every day.
Doctors and dentists
All students of the College are required to register with a local doctor and inform the Graduate Tutor's Secretary of their doctor's contact details. You should receive information from the College, including a list of suitable doctors. The NHS provides an online database of local doctors, with contact details, opening hours and location maps - the surgeries nearest to College are listed here.
Although not strictly required, you are strongly advised to register with dentist. There is a university dental service, which is the easiest place to be registered as an NHS patient. This is located on Trumpington Street, near Lensfield Road; click here to view a map, which is large, to contain both College (top right) and the dental service (bottom left), so keep scrolling down. It is recommended that you make appointments well in advance - if you are here out of term time, it is likely to be less busy. The dental service also provides emergency treatment to patients who have registered with them.
Sidney Sussex has a nurse, who you may find it convenient to speak to rather than making an appointment with a doctor. Her surgery hours are 08:30-11:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and 13:00-15:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She can be found on P floor of Garden Court.
The MCR committee includes a Women's and Welfare officer, who is happy to help with any questions or concerns. She has provided a wide variety of links and contact details for other welfare organisations here. The Graduate Tutor and the Pastoral Dean are also available to you, along with the rest of the pastoral and tutorial team, if you wish to discuss any concerns. At postgraduate level, the majority of academic concerns should be addressed in departments.
Students with Children
Support for students with children is provided by several organisations in the university. The first places to look for information are:
The University Childcare Office and the Childcare Information Adviser can provide advice and information about nurseries, accommodation, financial assistance and all child-related matters. The Family Society is a student-run organisation to provide support on the same issues as the Childcare Office, as well as performing a representative and campaigning role.
Other Specific Interests
The Graduate Union information pages provide information for the support of other groups, and links to other university bodies of interest.
The Cambridge University Language Programme (CULP) provides courses in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Chinese (Mandarin) at basic, intermediate and advanced levels. Courses for students cost £150 (2013-14), and run for 15 weeks through the Michaelmas and Lent terms – make sure that you sign up asap as places are limited. To view information and enrol, please visit the Language Centre Online (which requires you to log-in via Raven).
There are also free courses, subsidised by a bequest by A.J. Pressland, for which all members of the university may apply, but priority is given to scientists.
The MCR Committee comprises Sidney graduate students elected and co-opted to represent the MCR on committees in College and the University. Members of the Committee also arrange social events (notably Freshers' Week, the summer garden party and the graduate guest nights), provide welfare support, advocate green issues, manage the funds allocated to the MCR and administer computing resources and the website.
For contact details for the current Committee, and links to information about each role, see the MCR Committee page.
Apart from the two college newspapers, SidNews (containing sports, societies, news and student union reports) and El Sid (a satirical, occasionally termly paper), there are also two main University-wide newspapers. Varsity and The Cambridge Student (TCS) are delivered free to every college once a week, read by 15,000 students and alumni. Varsity is the the oldest colour student newspaper in the country, running for more than half a century. Its editors have gone on to become big names in the media world (and some not so big) such as Michael Winner, the film director and journalist, Jeremy Paxman, the Newsnight presenter, and the late Richard Whiteley, presenter of Channel 4's Countdown (the resident mathematician of which, Carol Vorderman, studied Engineering at Sidney). When Prince Charles was at the University, even he managed to get an article published so it's well worth trying to get involved.
The Cambridge Student was set up in 1999, by the Cambridge University Student Union to provide an alternative to Varsity. It was intended to provide informative student union information and a different political outlook to Varsity. However, under different Editorships the two papers standing on political issues have shifted over time.
Sidney Sussex is playing an increasingly active role in the two papers (though particularly Varsity) and has provided Editors, Section Editors and even Online Editors in recent years. Both papers are surprisingly inclusive and if you wish to write for them, they are easy to approach. To write an article, you will find the e-mail addresses and meeting times of the particular sections in the paper. You can turn up to their weekly meetings in the offices (both of which are found at 11-12 Trumpington Street) to offer yourself as a writer, photographer, cartoonist, production assistant or page setter. Both papers strive as much to be a society as they do to be a professional production and they therefore place a large emphasis on encouraging as many students as possible to write.
There are also some more specialist student and local publications you might want to get involved with, and which have also had strong Sidney involvement. Graduates' Own, or GOWN, is a magazine created in Michaelmas 2004 (published online and in print) for graduates. BlueSci, also founded in Michaelmas 2004 and available both online and in print, is a science magazine for Cambridge. The magazine has an inclusive, "popular" approach, and invites contributions from those researching in scientific subjects.
When you arrive at Sidney Sussex you must sign in at the Porters' Lodge, located at the front entrance of College on Sidney Street. The Porters will provide you with your room key and necessary door codes. Part bouncer, part custodian and part policeman, the Porters are an essential part of college life and, with their extensive knowledge of college and everyone within it, are essential contacts to make at Sidney Sussex and are able to answer most questions – if in doubt, ask a Porter!
Led by Head Porter Colin Maxted, there are about half a dozen Porters, and at least one Porter is on duty at college 24 hours a day. Among other things, Porters supervise the distribution of mail and the behaviour of students within College on behalf of the Master and the Dean. At the Porters' Lodge one can also sign up for formal halls, book the squash courts and ergos and collect the key for the college gym and music room.
There is a range of shops in the centre of Cambridge that will cover most of your basic needs. A number offer student discounts. When you arrive, pick up a copy of the CUSU Cambridge Guide in the Pigeonhole Room (these are also available online).
You can get away with not packing many household items such as cutlery, plates and towels. However, it does help if you arrive in Cambridge about a week before lectures begin (if you are on a taught course), and keep as much time free as possible during Freshers' Week. Many events will be arranged to help you to meet other students. But it is also a useful time for acquiring things you need. The weekend before term starts is incredibly crowded and shops tend to sell out of goods. For example, buying coathangers (especially clip coathangers for skirts and trousers) can be difficult. Cheap plates, bowels and cutlery also often sell out. Arriving early and buying what you need can save you a lot of problems. Knowing where to shop can also help - below is a brief run down of some of the shops and the things they sell. This is just a quick overview of some of the shops in Cambridge that cover the basic essentials – you will quickly realise as you wonder around that there are many more shops than these.
Stationery store that has a 10% student discount upon showing your student ID card. Covers all the basic stationery requirements - folders, papers, pens, computer discs etc. (you can get documents bound here too).
Stationery store. Covers basic stationery but also has a selection of magazines, some books, art materials etc.
Another book store, with a wider range of academic textbooks as well as fiction and non-fiction. Heffers have a card scheme where you receive stamps for purchases, which count towards a discount. Heffers has several shops in Cambridge specialising in a particular area. The main book store is located at 20 Trinity Street, next to Heffers Sound which mostly sells classical music CDs.
There are a range of smaller bookshops in the centre of Cambridge, including several on Sidney Street next to the main college entrance. Several of these have second-hand books (including textbooks); Galloway and Porter often have sales where you can buy a text book at a greatly reduced price.
Argos sells a huge range of goods - clothes airers, radios, jewellery, kitchen utensils - you name it, they probably sell it. You can take a free copy of their catalogue and have a good look through to compare prices. You fill in a form in the store and the items are brought down to you. The catalogue can also be viewed, and reservations made, online. There are two Argos stores in Cambridge - a central one near the bus station and a larger out-of-town shop.
Right across the street from college on Sidney Street, Lakeland is bound to have the random items (food containers to shoe polish) that make us feel more at home - even though we never pack them.
Basically a chemist/pharmacy that also sells a wide range of personal products like deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, condoms, tampons and pads, washing detergent, make up and a small range of food such as candy and sandwiches. They also develop photographs. Students receive a discount of 10% on Wednesdays.
A large store that sells cosmetics, stockings, socks, personal items such as deodorant, shampoo and conditioner etc. as well as items such as hairdryers. Boots is a major chemist/pharmacy, develops photos and also sells lunchtime foods.
Directly opposite Sidney with quite long opening hours - weekdays until 11.30pm, Sunday until 5pm (watch out!!). Sainsbury's will often be your saviour when hall food becomes too depressing. It is quite a small supermarket but with a reasonable range of food goods. It also sells alcohol. Sainsbury's sells fresh fruit and vegetables, pre-cooked meals, as well as pre-made sandwiches and salads, along with all the normal items you would expect to find in a supermarket including a bakery. Sainsburys can run out of items on the shelf as it is such a small supermarket and it is the only one in the centre of town. Friday nights are mayhem. If you try and shop during quieter hours it will be a quicker shopping experience and a far less annoying one. Fill out a form for a Nectar card at Sainsbury's - this is a free discount card that earns you points every time you shop. Points can be redeemed by reducing the total of your next bill, once you have accumulated enough points.
M&S have a good supermarket on Market Square. They sell high quality pre-cooked meals, ready made sandwiches and salads, as well as bread and other normal supermarket food. The Market Square store also contains menswear, a cafe and household items; the other Marks and Spencer store opposite Boots (and accessible using a shortcut from the back of the food hall) sells a wide range of women's clothing.
Location: Market Square
The market has a range of stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to cakes, clothes and trinkets. Definitely fun to look around.
Although Sainsbury's offers a good selection of organic produce and products as well as options without wheat/meat/dairy, there are several stores around Cambridge which offer wider selection of organic, vegetarian, and vegan products: Arjuna Whole Foods (Mill Road) and Cambridge Health Food (Bridge Street), which offers a 10% student discount. Also see Food.
Location: Emmanuel Street
There is a dry cleaner - Johnsons - on Emmanuel Street, 5 minutes walk from Sidney.
Department store that sells kitchen and electrical appliances, lamps, cosmetics, scarves, stockings (and indeed most things). It offers a great selection and tends to be a bit more expensive than other department stores (mainly because the goods are superior quality). A tip for your rooms: John Lewis sells the rail hooks that slide on the ledges across the walls in most college rooms (since you are not allowed to knock fittings into the walls), and also the suction hooks (you may find that your room has little space for hanging towels, scarves, hats etc., and these hooks come in handy).
Good for computer needs such as cables, mouse pads, power adaptors etc. There is a more central store on St. Andrew's Street, and a newer one in the Beehive Centre (next to Asda), near Newmarket Road. You can also search the catalogue and place an order online.
Most of the major coffee shops are represented in Cambridge. These can be ideal places to meet, chat and surf the web. Starbucks is on Market Street, on St. Andrew's Street and on Fitzroy Street (near the Grafton Centre). Caffè Nero is on Market Street, Kings Parade and in Heffers on Trinity Street; Costa Coffee has a presence in Waterstones on Sidney Street, and in both the Grand Arcade and the Grafton Centre. Of course, Costa also offers the nearest coffee shop to our college on the corner of Sidney Street and Sussex Street (and is part of the same building as South Court).
Cambridge also has several highly recommended indepedent coffee shops. Savino's on Emmanuel St serves Illy coffee and Italian pastries. The Cambridge institution Fitzbillies' on the corner of Trumpington St and Pembroke St serves decent, if slightly overpriced, artisanal coffee and Chelsea buns in their recently extended cafe. For fanatics, Hot Numbers Coffee on Gwydir St (off Mill Road) serves excellent single origin coffee roasted in-house.
If you wish to send something to another college then you can use the free CUSU mailing service. The nearest postbox to Sidney is on the corner of Sidney Street and Jesus Lane: walk out the front of the Porters' Lodge, turn right, and it is 100 metres along the college wall. Numerous other red postboxes are dotted around the city centre. There is a small post office on Trinity Street and a larger post office on St. Andrew's Street. Stamps are available for purchase at the Porters' Lodge.
Hobbs Sports is the nearest to Sidney, just a few doors down Sidney Street from Sainsburys (ask for their current student discount rate). Sports Direct has a branch in the Grafton Centre and JD Sports has a branch in the Lion Yard shopping centre (see below).
There are two major shopping centres within walking distance of Sidney: the Lion Yard/Grand Arcade in the centre and the Grafton Centre, which is a short walk across Christ's Pieces.
The impressive Grand Arcade adjoins the Lion Yard and was opened during summer 2008 along with the refurbished John Lewis department store. It is accessed through the Lion Yard and has a main entrance on St. Andrew's Street.
Fair Trade and Ethical Shopping
Cambridge WDM, the local branch of the World Development Movement, has an online Fair Trade directory listing local shops and cafés selling fair trade products, which can be searched by outlet and product type.
Societies and Clubs
The Cambridge University Student Union Freshers' Fair, held in the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre (map), is the place to find out about the many and varied clubs and societies in Cambridge. With hundreds of societies in attendance, there should be something to suit everyone no matter their nationality, interests or political proclivities. We recommend you search the CUSU Societies Directory to find a society that interests you. Societies cater for all levels of experience and expertise - so if you're a competitive freak or a bumbling incompetent you're sure to find something to please. Even if you're not interested in joining any societies it's worth a visit just to pick up the many promotional trinkets on offer from many companies also present. There are also some societies open only to Sidney Students, which can be found at the at the College Societies Fair (you will receive details of when and where this Fair takes place during Freshers' Week).
The trick to a Societies Fair, as those of you who experienced them as undergraduates will recall, is to keep your hands firmly in your pockets. Once you find a Society you're interested in disclose your name, number and e-mail address only - chances are you'll sign up to many more societies than you'll have time to keep up through the year. The best place to decide whether or not to hand over your membership fees (usually the princely sum of a few quid) is at the society's first social meeting, or "Squash" as they're called in Cambridge.
A current list of societies within Sidney Sussex College is below. The full University list of societies has links to society websites; CUSU information for University-wide societies is also available. If you don't see a society you like, why not set one up, either within College or for the whole University? Modest funding, webspace and mailing list administration are available for official societies. Click here for detailed information.
Dates of Freshers' Fairs
The University Freshers' Fair is usually held on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Freshers Week; for the most current information, visit the Cambridge University Student Union Societies' Fair link.
Sidney Sussex College Societies
Social life outside college
Although you may be overwhelmed by the social, culinary and architectural delights offered by Sidney (and we have ghosts too, allegedly), there does exist a world outside the college walls which has much to offer the student and visitor. For an introduction to the historical sites and attractions, see a guide brochure (available from the Tourist Information Office, just off Market Square). For a brief exposé of the music, beverage and museum scene, read on...
Cambridge offers a wide variety of watering holes, ranging from cosy old-style pubs (some with a very impressive historical pedigree), to shiny and new would-be London-style wine bars. If you fancy the former, then The Champion of the Thames and the St Radegund's (both on King Street, just behind Sidney) are highly recommended. The Maypole (next to the multi-storey car park on Park Street, down from the ADC theatre) is a firm Sidney favourite for all the right reasons: close proximity to College and Italian food (it's Italian-run, so the pasta is palatable!). If it's al fresco drinking in scenic, riverside surrounds that you're after, then The Mill and The Anchor (both near Silver Street bridge) are good options, and Fort St. George on Midsummer Common is well worth the walk across Jesus Green. The Eagle on Bene't Street is also a popular choice, and boasts some sort of historic DNA discovery association that those of a scientific persuasion will find irresistible. Finally, The Bun Shop and The King Street Run (both on King Street) and The Pickerel on Magdalene Street warrant a visit.
There are several useful online pub guides to help you navigate the vast array of drinking opportunities Cambridge has to offer - try the independent guides here and here and also the Cambridge branch of CAMRA.
If more modern and music-friendly night bars are more your thing, then La Raza on Rose Crescent has recently proved very popular with the Sidney MCR. Also popular for music performance as well as cocktails are the Vaults on Trinity Street and B Bar on Market Passage. Other vibrant bars we recommend are Ta Bouche on Market Passage, All Bar One on St. Andrew's Street and the Fountain Inn on Regent Street.
If ultra-cheesy music is to your taste, Cambridge is undeniably the place for you. Ballare (formerly Cindy's/5th Avenue) near Lion Yard arguably takes the cake. Soul Tree is between the Corn Exchange and the back of the Grand Arcade. The Fez Club on Market Passage is well known to Sidney students, but even closer to College is The Place on Sidney Street (formerly Life).
For more serious music lovers there's The Junction, which is a taxi ride away on Clifton Way (next to the Cineworld, the other side of the rail station).
While Cambridge is host to all of the big chains you would be doing yourselves a huge disservice, in terms of taste and pocket, if you adopt a conformist attitude to your coffee. Renowned for both its excellent coffee (be warned, the double espresso will keep you up all night and is best reserved for Easter term) and tasty Italian food, served in unique, study-friendly surroundings, Clowns on King Street cannot come more highly recommended as an evening and night haunt - especially as it has recently opened a smoke-free upper floor. For a daytime lunch or caffeine experience, try Indigos (next to The Haunted Bookstore, St. Edmund's Passage), although it's so popular you'll be hard-pressed to find a seat. For the biggest cappuccino cups in town, try Cafe Ole opposite Magdalene College; it also offers excellent tapas. In addition, Mill Road offers an impressive range of cafés, with CB1 gaining special mention for its low prices and thoughtfully provided library.
Museums and Galleries
Cambridge has a wide-range of museums and galleries satisfying all interests; naturally, many museums are associated with the university. Worthy of special mention is the Fitzwilliam Museum and Art Gallery on Trumpington Street (map), for its art exhibitions. Kettle's Yard Art Gallery (map), the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum (map), the University Museum of Zoology (map), and the museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute (map) are also all worth a visit.
College gardens are usually attractively maintained and offer a pleasant venue for a stroll or read, particularly in sunny weather. The University Botanic Garden (map) is highly recommended and entrance is free upon production of your University student card. If you feel the urge to play Frisbee, football, indulge in a picnic etc., then Jesus Green (behind Park Parade) is a suitable venue. For walkers and cyclists with an afternoon to spare, the nearby village of Grantchester, with its scenic meadows and friendly pubs, is an essential destination.
For those distant sunny days the unheated open-air pool on Jesus Green is a venue near to College, offering student discounts and swimmable water. For those who prefer an indoor facility, Parkside Pools, opposite Parker's Piece, offers heated pools, diving boards, a children's pool and water slide.
Sport is one of the best ways to meet both other graduates and also the under-graduates. Although Sidney is one of the smallest colleges, it has a reputation for throwing itself into a wide variety of sports. The result is that we have a proud tradition of getting a lot of people involved, and success on the sports field that belies our size.
Playing for a University team (the Blues) is an excellent way to meet people from different colleges and establish a social circle outside of College and your department. It's definitely worth checking out the different university options at the Fresher's Fair and trying out for any sports that interest you. The level of University sport - excluding rugby and rowing - is not terribly high and you may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself travelling around the country as a member of the Cambridge Blues.
In addition to the plethora of sports clubs and facilities offered by the University, Sidney offers a wide variety of sports teams, both at a competitive and a social level, and where we don't already have a team there is always keen support for anyone who wants to start another.
As well as being a great place to meet people and have fun, the various sports teams have fantastic parties and formal dinners each term. These dinners are a real highlight of the Sidney social calendar (tales of boat club dinner cocktails are notorious). In addition to the formal functions most teams organise exchange formal halls with sports teams of other colleges, allowing a chance to meet other people and to explore the delights of dining at the various colleges.
Sidney has its own sports ground situated on Huntingdon Road about 15 minutes' walk from College, used for both practices and matches with other colleges. It has rugby, football and hockey pitches. On-site we have a squash court, which is free for all members of college, a gym and several rowing machines.
The college also has a shared boat house on the river. The Porters will be able to provide you with directions and the key.
The college sports teams (mostly comprising undergrads, but grads are play a significant part too, not least in order to play at a higher level) are listed on the SSCSU/JCR website. For those teams and the grad-only teams (which are less competitive) you will also receive numerous emails during Freshers Week inviting you to join.
Rowing is the sport for which Cambridge is most famous, and there is no doubt that time on the mighty River Cam is one of the essential Cambridge college experiences. Some come to Sidney Sussex having rowed before, but the vast majority learn everything here, and within the year can experience the ultimate in college rowing success by taking home a souvenir painted oar! Unlike most sports at Cambridge rowing is tried by almost everyone during their time here: over 1500 people take part in the May Bumps, the major summer races. Sidney normally puts out about 8 novice crews in the first term, so there is plenty of opportunity for everyone. Added to the fun is the much more important social side: exchange dinners with crews from other colleges and the infamous Boat Club Dinners. If you want to know more, check out the Boat Club website, or come to the first Boat Club party at the start of Michelmas term.
The University Centre was conceived from the Bridges Report, which was commissioned in 1965 to look at the provision of facilities to graduate students. It was built using a £330,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation in 1967. This centre, known to most people as the GradPad, provides a wide range of facilities to the University community. Last year the Centre welcomed 350,000 visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the University.
Membership of the University Centre is provided free of charge to all current University employees, graduate students and alumni. Spouses of members are also eligible for membership. Other people can gain membership either through different organisations, such as Colleges, or by paying an annual subscription. Within the University Centre there are various eating establishments. The Riverside Restaurant is one of Cambridge's best restaurants, offering food presented to the highest standards. There is also a Main Dining Hall offering an informal self-service cafeteria serving an extensive range of dishes, but when it comes to relaxation, Grads cafe is the ideal place for breakfast or a snack. With its comfortable and laid-back setting, and a range of baguettes and pastries to have with your espresso or capuccino, this is an ideal place to spend those rare quiet moments.
In addition, the GradPad offers other facilities such as a Business Club allowing people from the local business community to meet up and share ideas, make deals or just to relax. There is also the Compaq Room, a cybercafe found just beside Grads cafe, a reading room, TV room and games room.