The Freshers' Guide

College Events

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.

Freshers' Week

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.

Food-related events

Formal Hall

Sidney Sussex HallFormal 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).

Graduate Formals

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.

Sidney Sussex Old LibraryGraduate 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 Socials: the MCR holds various miscellaneous events throughout the year, such as a Christmas Cocktail Party and College puts on the ever-popular BBQ and wine-tasting evening.
  • MCR Film Night: DVD movies are shown through our projector in the MCR every Sunday night, with free snacks. Requests should be made to the MCR Film Officer; the week's choice is advertised by e-mail.
  • Graduate Seminar Series: a twice-termly series of seminars delivered in the Mong Hall by graduate students was originally introduced in 2005. These are evening events with free refreshments, designed to lead into the pre-dinner drinks of Guest Nights.

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 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.

Freshers' Guide last modified: 1 November 2017
This section last modified: 2 July 2012