Page 1

Studying and living in

St John’s College University of Cambridge

The Evangelist St. John my patron was: Three Gothic courts are his, and in the first Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure; Right underneath, the College kitchens made A humming sound, less tuneable than bees, But hardly less industrious... As if awakened, summoned, roused, constrained, I looked for universal things; perused The common countenance of earth and sky: Earth, nowhere unembellished by some trace Of that first Paradise whence man was driven; And sky, whose beauty and bounty are expressed By the proud name she bears–the name of Heaven. I called on both to teach me what they might; Or, turning the mind in upon herself, Pored, watched, expected, listened, spread my thoughts William Wordsworth, BA 1791

With 31 Colleges to choose from, students applying to the University of Cambridge may find the process of selecting a College bewildering. You should be reassured that, in choosing one College over another, you will not be restricting your access to the wide range of courses offered by the University. Indeed, the vast majority of subjects, lectures, seminars, practical classes and examinations are organised at the Faculty and Departmental level. However, your choice of College will certainly shape your experience of living and studying in Cambridge.


One of the most important experiences that St John’s can offer is participation in a community that has achieved distinction at the highest level, including Nobel Laureates as well as Fellows of the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Distinguished Johnians from abroad have contributed to the College's international presence as a centre of academic and research excellence. Whether in the context of a supervision, over dinner in Hall, or in an informal chat in a College courtyard, as a student here you will be immersed in an environment where the exchange of ideas is enthusiastic, unpretentious, and stimulating.

St John’s College In becoming a member of St John’s, you will become part of five centuries of academic excellence and tradition. Your choice of College will greatly determine your experience of Cambridge as an undergraduate, from the level of academic support you receive for your chosen course to the variety of social activities and non-academic pursuits available to you. In the following pages, we will introduce you to some key aspects of student life in Cambridge, and acquaint you with the specific advantages and benefits of studying and living at St John’s. The size of the College, its tradition of excellence in academic and nonacademic pursuits, and the diversity of its student members and Fellows create an environment that is uniquely challenging and stimulating. At the same time, St John’s is fortunate in being able to accommodate all its undergraduates on site, promoting a sense of coherence and community. Added to the obvious aesthetic appeal of its riverside grounds and historic buildings, the College’s central location in the city provides easy access to most of the University Departments and to the University Library.

The College is committed to offering its members every opportunity to fulfil their potential and to succeed in their chosen course of study: it provides a wide range of support, from academic to pastoral and financial. Your Director of Studies will help you organise your subject options, and will be a continuous source of guidance and encouragement throughout your student career. Your Tutor will be concerned with your academic and personal development, and can be called upon to provide advice and practical support whenever necessary. But the College also recognises that much of the success and richness of your undergraduate experience will depend on activities that may not be directly related to your coursework. Numerous College Societies offer a large scope for extracurricular interests, from music and drama to sports and journalism.

• St John’s College was founded in 1511 by Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry VII. It is one of the oldest of the University’s Colleges, the largest in terms of its grounds and the second largest in the size of its membership. • The Chapel tower is 49.7 metres high. • St John’s has more than 135 Fellows, 530 undergraduates and 300 graduate students across the entire range of academic disciplines. • The Working Library contains over 105,000 books for student use. • The Fellows give more than 4,000 supervisions to students each year. • 85% of St John’s students obtained a First or Upper Second Class in University examinations in 2005. • The estimated number of ducks and swans on the Backs is 63.


Academic excellence Although there are many things to do at Cambridge, much of your time will be spent studying! Teaching at Cambridge is organised by both the University and the Colleges. The University organises formal lectures and, in most subjects, also seminars and practical classes. You will be taught together with undergraduates from all Colleges; a lecture may be attended by as many as 300 students. The University also sets the end-of-year examinations that determine your eventual class of degree. On the College side, and throughout your undergraduate career, your Director of Studies will help you devise a programme of study that addresses your specific needs. Your Director of Studies, usually a Fellow of the College, will be a central figure in your academic life, providing advice about courses and options, organising your College teaching (supervisions), and perhaps helping you find a summer placement to gain research or work experience. Supervisions are a distinctive feature of College teaching and provide a forum where you receive individual attention in a small and familiar setting (usually with one other student). Your Director of Studies will arrange supervisions with subject experts matched to your needs. Structured around regular assignments (e.g. essays or problem 4 | WWW.JOH.CAM.AC.UK

sheets), supervisions provide an opportunity for you to deepen your understanding in the subject and address aspects of the course that complement the University lectures and classes. Your supervisors will often be Fellows of the College, but may also be other academics or research students. With 135 Fellows across all subjects, undergraduates at St John's benefit greatly from the diversity and quality of the College teaching establishment. There are many other ways in which the College is committed to supporting your learning. In addition to its proximity to the University and Departmental libraries, the College has one of the largest of Cambridge's College libraries, with a rich collection of primary and secondary sources and a comprehensive stock of recommended textbooks. There are also book grants and travel grants to support individual projects that may be only tangentially related to your academic course, but that enhance your personal development in other ways.

FAMOUS JOHNIANS • John Couch Adams (1819-1892) Mathematician and astronomer who predicted the existence and position of Neptune. BA Mathematics 1843. • Samuel Butler (1835-1902) Poet, novelist, literary historian and satirist. Author of the classic satire Erewhon. BA Classics 1859. • Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) A leading figure in anti-slavery movement responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. BA Mathematics 1783. • Sir John Cockcroft (1897-1967) Nobel Prize-winning physicist who first split the atom. Instrumental figure in the development of nuclear power. BA Mathematics 1924, Fellow 1928-1946. • Allan Cormack (1924-1998) Particle physicist. Nobel Laureate in Medicine/Physiology for invention of the CAT scan. Research student in the 1940s, Honorary Fellow 1993-1998. • John Dee (1527-1608) Mathematician, astronomer, astrologer. Consultant to Queen Elizabeth I who devoted much of his life to experiments in alchemy and divination. BA 1546. • Paul Dirac (1902-1984) Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and one of the founding fathers of Quantum Mechanics. PhD 1926.

St John’s is committed to providing world-class resources and expertise and to creating a learning environment in which you will thrive academically. Our aim is to recognise and help you achieve your potential, which will often exceed even your own expectations.


Joining St John’s means belonging to a lively, large and multicultural community. Making the most of the stimulating diversity of activities and opportunities on offer is one of the key benefits of a collegiate environment, and essential to your personal as well as academic development.

Living at St John’s St John’s offers a setting that is breathtakingly beautiful and intellectually stimulating; challenging but comfortable. The College is located in the heart of the city and within easy reach of most University Departments and lecture theatres. The River Cam flows through the grounds and the stunning architecture comprises buildings of the last eight centuries set between gardens and lawns, the well-known Bridge of Sighs, and the impressive Chapel Tower. You may well find yourself living in a room previously occupied by William Wordsworth, William Wilberforce or Douglas Adams, or by one of our 8 Nobel Prize winners such as Maurice Wilkins, Paul Dirac, or Abdus Salam. You will also benefit from facilities of the highest standard, including computer rooms, seminar rooms, music rooms, and some 28 acres of easily accessible playing fields and sports facilities at the back of the College. St John’s is able to offer accommodation to all undergraduate and graduate students for the whole duration of their courses. In the first year all our undergraduates live together in the same court; this helps foster a strong group spirit and ensures that you will quickly feel at home in the College. In subsequent years you have a wide choice of accommodation and can opt for a single room, share a set of rooms with a room-mate, or live with a group of students in one of our beautiful Victorian houses in the vicinity of the College. Student rooms at St John’s are widely acknowledged to be among the best in Cambridge, and all have highspeed internet connections. We are committed to disabled access and will do our utmost to accommodate special needs. The College Library provides an efficient and welcoming service for all members of the College. The Working Library was officially opened in 1994 and is modern, comfortable, and technologically up to speed; its six floors offer an ideal environment in which to study, work, think, but also interact. With more than

105,000 books and journals it is open to members of the College 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; it has computing and audio-visual facilities of the highest standard, and a rich and growing selection of music and films. The older building – the Old Library – dates back to 1624 and houses the College’s magnificent collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs and maps: a treasure trove for junior as well as more experienced researchers. The College Buttery serves meals three times a day for the whole year. It offers a variety of cooked meals, salads and snacks, and caters for most special dietary needs (including vegetarian, halal and kosher). It is a popular place for Johnians to meet and enjoy good food, and in sunny weather they often spill over into the courtyard and across the river onto the Backs. You also have the option of enjoying a fantastic three-course dinner in the sumptuous Hall, with your College friends or with guests; the 160 hall tickets available each evening are often quickly sold out. All students also have access to cooking facilities near their rooms. The College Bar offers light meals and snacks as well as a place to relax and socialise.

• St John’s has 172 first-year undergraduates. • 100% of undergraduates are offered College accommodation. • St John’s guarantees accommodation for the whole duration of your course. • There are 501 student rooms on the main College site, all with internet access. • There are 55 nationalities amongst current students. • Students have 24 hour access to the College Library. • All Johnians have the opportunity to go to the best May Ball in town.

My school said that I would not be able to get into St. John’s, Cambridge as I was “not the sort of person that they are looking for”. I applied to University anyway, but in the end cancelled all my university applications as I was still set on St. John’s. Later I applied off my own bat and was over the moon when I was accepted for Arch & Anth and now I’m still here doing a PhD. ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE | 7

At St John’s it is easy to find people who share your interests, whether you want to watch a film, make music, kick a ball around in the mud, or take a College punt on the river (preferably with someone else doing the hard work). For more serious fun, St John’s has over 40 College Clubs and Societies, all run by students, which provide a great way to meet people and to get involved in music, sport, drama and a host of other things.

College Clubs and Societies Amnesty International Art Society Bridge Society Cabaret Caledonian Society

Adams Society (Maths) Badminton Club (Women’s)

Chess Club

Christian Union Classical Society Cripptic Computer Science Society Economics Society Engineering Society Film Society Football (Men’s)

Gentlemen of St John's History Society

Home Brewing Society


Hockey Jazz@John’s

Lady Margaret Pilgrimage Lady Margaret Players Larmor Society (Natural Sciences) LBGT Society Lady Margaret Boat Club May Ball Medical Society

Modern Languages Society Norman Henry Society Photographic Society

Music Society

Palmerston Society (Social & Political Sciences)

Punt Society

Purchas Society (Geography)

Rivers Society (Archaeology & Anthropology) Royal Opera House Society

Theological Society 8 | WWW.JOH.CAM.AC.UK

Table Tennis Club Wordsworth Society (English)

When you’re not working


Undergraduates at Cambridge are like students everywhere – they certainly don't work all the time. Although the College prides itself on several sports teams that regularly feature in the top rank of intercollege competitions, and Johnians often represent the University in various sports, there are plenty of opportunities to find your own level if it is rather more modest. Most students who row at St John’s had never touched an oar before coming to Cambridge. The College is unusual in having its sports grounds adjacent to its main site and a fitness centre on site. Pitches for football, rugby, cricket, hockey and lacrosse are very close by. There are tennis, badminton, and squash courts, and finding a partner in a College of this size is easy. St John’s is often thought of as a musical college, and you will find all kinds on offer, from Handel and Dvo˘rˇ ák to hip-hop and drum’n’bass. The JCR (the John's Student Union) runs regular ‘ents’ in term-time, in the Fisher building or the Boiler Room – an accurate description, and

also a good practice venue for student groups at the higher decibel levels. Queues form early for Friday night events run by the jazz club, Jazz@John’s. For the classical musician there is a thriving Music Society that runs the College orchestra, recitals and concerts. The choral tradition is maintained by our world-famous Choir, as well as by many more informal opportunities for music-making, including the St John’s Singers. You can probably watch a different film every night of the year in Cambridge, and the College Film Society plays its part with regular screenings in the Fisher Building. You will also find students as interested in making films as in watching them, and the College theatre in the thirteenth-century School of Pythagoras is well-used by the St John’s drama group, the Lady Margaret Players. Student publications like ‘InPrint’ offer an outlet for creative writing.

• Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) Pioneering cosmologist who first used the term ‘Big Bang’. Fellow of the Royal Society and a popular science-fiction novelist. Fellow 1939-1972, Honorary Fellow 1973-2001. • Kencho Suematsu (Kenchio Suyematz) (1855-1920) Politician, Statesman, journalist, translator and historian. BA Law 1884. • Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) Economist. Author of Principles of Economics, which brought together theories of supply and demand, utility and production costs. BA Mathematics 1865, Fellow 1865-77 and 18851908, Honorary Fellow 1908-24. • Sir Roger Penrose (1931-) Mathematical physicist, cosmologist and philosopher. Author of popular texts on connections between physics and human consciousness such as The Emperor's New Mind. PhD Mathematics 1957. • Frederick Sanger (1918-) Biochemist and molecular biologist, one of only four double Nobel Prize winners. His work on DNA sequencing has been of key importance in the Human Genome project. BA Natural Sciences 1939, PhD 1944.


Finance and support It is a fact that higher education does not come free, but at St John’s we do our utmost to make it accessible to everybody. Every student at St John’s has access to grants for course-related books, journals and software, and for attending conferences and workshops. If you find yourself in unexpected financial hardship your Tutor will be able to offer straightforward, short-term financial help as well as advice about longerterm solutions. You may want to enter for some of the numerous College prizes and competitions, such as the Douglas Adams Prize for humorous writing or the Master’s Prize for results of a research project or for works of scholarship. There is also financial support for summer research and travel, through Travel Exhibitions and research grants. In the annual competition we give more than 35 awards in the region of £200-£600 for the most interesting summer projects; some of these may be course-related while others may aim

to broaden your horizons and experience. You will be surprised how quickly an undergraduate course is completed, and you may soon find yourself faced with the exciting prospect of entering a graduate course at the forefront of worldwide research. But securing funding for graduate study can often be a source of difficulty and anxiety. In our annual Benefactors’ Scholarship competition we make up to 25 awards, some fully funded, for three-year or fouryear graduate courses. In addition, we have a unique Access Bursary scheme for graduate students and offer extended funding in case a research degree takes slightly longer than expected. The College is committed to helping students with children through suitable accommodation and assistance with childcare costs.

• St John’s spends over £35,000 each year in Learning & Research Fund Grants. • St John’s students receive around £255,000 per year in Access Grants. • The College spends over £18,000 annually on nonacademic Travel Awards. • St John’s spends annually more than £400,000 on Benefactors’ Scholarships. • The price of a three-course dinner in Hall is £4.60.

The College is well aware of the rising costs of higher education and the growing financial pressures on undergraduates and graduates. St John’s is committed to finding ways of helping students with financial difficulties. The College is part of the Cambridge Access Bursary scheme and spends over £255,000 per year to support our undergraduates through Access Bursaries.

“My travel Scholarship allowed me to spend the summer doing research in a lab at MIT in the other Cambridge, which was amazing...” ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE | 11

Cambridge graduates are always in demand, however competitive the job market. Studying here offers you a wealth of opportunities to develop the skills most prized by employers. Careers experts tell us that the most sought-out qualities in potential recruits include: innovative thinking, analytical skills, teamwork, confidence, problem-solving, and creativity. The combination of a rigorous course of study and active involvement in College life gives you the chance to acquire the key skills on employers’ wish lists, and this is reflected in your subsequent trajectory: over 97% of graduates have found employment 6 months after they leave Cambridge.

“Although the content of my degree in languages was very different from my job in finance, I found that it trained me to think ‘outside the box’ and to express my ideas with confidence.” 12 | WWW.JOH.CAM.AC.UK

Life after John’s


There is no such thing as a typical Johnian and there are great opportunities for careers in many diverse and rewarding fields for our graduates. Each year St John’s graduates embark on many different career paths, at home and abroad, with employers local or international, conventional or unconventional. Some will go on to realise their childhood dream of working in medicine, technology or the media, but most start out with few ideas about what they will do after St John’s. Many discover a wide range of options for the future and develop particular career plans during their time here. Our students’ career paths are not narrowly defined by the degrees they have studied. Archaeologists can, and do, become lawyers; biologists become bankers; and musicians become software developers. During their first degree many of our undergraduates develop a taste for further study here or abroad: each year around a third go on to take a higher degree or some form of professional or vocational qualification. All students can use the brilliant resources of the University’s Careers Service to research job options and meet prospective employers. The

Service advertises thousands of vacancies each term and offers valuable help with CV, presentation, and interview skills. When making career choices, our undergraduates also have the personal support of their Tutor, Director of Studies, and Supervisors, who can give advice, discuss options, and write those all-important references. Not all students want full-time employment immediately after graduation: about 5% choose to take time out to travel, work overseas for a year or two, or build up experience for professions that are difficult to enter as a new graduate, such as journalism, theatre, or the performing arts.

• Douglas Adams (1952-2001) Comedy writer, novelist, dramatist and environmentalist. Famous works include The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Life, the Universe and Everything; Last Chance to See (co-author) and scripts for Dr Who. BA English 1974. • Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) Fashion and society photographer, theatre and stage designer. Costume designer for My Fair Lady. • Chris Brasher (1928-2003) Athlete, sports writer and broadcaster. Pacemaker during Bannister's 4-minute mile. Olympic gold medallist in 1956. Co-founder of the London Marathon. BA 1951. • The Rt Hon Lord Frederick Donald Coggan (1909-2000) Archbishop of Canterbury 1974-1980. BA Oriental Languages 1931. • William Cecil (Lord Burghley) (1520-1598) 1st Lord Burghley, Secretary of State, Lord High Treasurer and chief political advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. St John’s 1535-1541. • Thomas Fairfax (1612-1671) Parliamentarian and Commander-in-Chief during the first and second English Civil Wars. Lord General of the New Model Army. St John’s 1626.


At St John’s we are always happy to deal personally with your specific questions about any aspect of the admissions process. Do try to visit us. If you cannot make an Open Day when you can talk to the Director of Studies and current undergraduates in the subject that interests you, please do not hesitate to contact the Admissions Office.

“Coming to a College Open Day really helped me make up my mind about applying – and the place is really fab!” 14 | WWW.JOH.CAM.AC.UK

Making an application to St John’s UK/EU Applicants The application timetable at Cambridge starts earlier than at other universities. The UCAS form (listing Cambridge among your choices!) should be submitted to UCAS between mid-September and 15 October for entry in October of the next year (or for deferred entry in the following year). When your UCAS application has been received you will be asked to provide additional information through a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) that ensures we have complete and consistent information about all applicants. It also enables us to collect information that is not part of the

UCAS application but is helpful when assessing applications. Interviews take place in December, and, on the basis of your academic record so far, the reference provided by your school, and your performance in any admissions tests together with the impressions we gain at interview, we may then make you a conditional offer of a place. Prospective candidates who are preparing for examinations other than GCE A-levels are also most welcome to apply. We regularly make offers based on performances in, for example, the Scottish Advanced Highers, the German Abitur and the International Baccalaureate.

Please see our website for further information (www.admissions.joh.

Applicants living outside the EU If you are living in a country outside the EU, you should complete a Cambridge Overseas Application Form (COAF) as well as a UCAS application. This applies to all applicants (standard age, mature, affiliated) who are currently living in a country outside the EU and is regardless of fee status or nationality. COAFs are available from the Admissions Office, the Cambridge Admissions Office or from our website ( admissions/undergraduate/apply/). Your COAF should be completed and sent to the Admissions Office. If you would like to be considered for interview as part of one of the University’s overseas interview schemes, your COAF must be received by an earlier deadline, please refer to our website for more information: application_procedure/ international_applicants/.

Applications for a Choral or Organ Award If you wish to apply for a Choral or Organ Award you need to complete a Choral and Organ Award Application Form as well as submit a UCAS application. Please be aware for the Choral and Organ Awards application deadlines are earlier (in September) than the UCAS application deadline date. Please refer to our website for details. Your UCAS application does not have to be submitted until the 15 October deadline. Choral and Organ Award Application Forms are available from the Admissions office or can be downloaded from the Undergraduate Admissions website. ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE | 15

Playing Fields

FAMOUS JOHNIANS • Professor Vikram Sarabhai (1919-1971) Space scientist, industrialist and educationalist. Father of the Indian space programme. BA Physics 1940, PhD 1947. • Sir Maurice Wilkes (1913-) Computer Scientist, one of the founding fathers of modern computer science, responsible for many key developments in computing and programming. BA Mathematics 1934, PhD 1938, ScD 1993. • Maurice H.F. Wilkins (19162004) Bio-physicist who made a major impact in radar and x-ray diffraction research. Awarded the Nobel Prize with Watson and Crick for discovering the structure of DNA. BA Physics 1938.

The Buttery

Wordsworth Room ➝



– Dirac Room – Boy Smith Room – Palmerston Room

Admissions Office


* ➝

Old Music Room

Corfield Court

Porters’ Lodges

Design: Layout: Photography: Keith Heppell and The Photographic Unit Print: Falcon Printing Services Ltd Third Edition

St John’s College Cambridge CB2 1TP Tel: 01223 338703 Email: Web:

St John's College Undergraduate Prospectus  
St John's College Undergraduate Prospectus  

St John's College Undergraduate Prospectus