Exceed your expectations about what you can achieve

Whatever your subject, studying at Cambridge is a big ask and our students come here because they relish the prospect of taking that challenge on. Although you’ll always find plenty to do outside the library or lab, you should be ready to spend a lot of your time studying, learning and exploring ideas, with support from the very best.

Sometimes studying here is tough, but the beauty of the College system is that you never have to go it alone. We’ll help you get there, with world-class teaching, superb resources, and lots of personal support. In the end, you’ll exceed your own expectations about what you can achieve.

A student studies in her room

How it all works

A student in the Architecture department

A Cambridge course is called a “Tripos” and breaks down into parts, each lasting one or two years. Most students take successive parts in the same subject, but there is room to change. The courses start broad, but later there is a chance to specialise and explore your own interests in depth.

The University arranges lectures, seminars, classes and exams. The job of the College is to help you make the most of the course with personal attention and support. We will help you to develop your programme of study and arrange regular, small-group tuition, usually with one other student, called “supervisions”.

Supervisions are a special part of the Cambridge experience. Each session focuses on a particular assignment or problem. It’s a unique opportunity to deepen your knowledge and understanding, ask questions, pursue theories, get feedback, and think for yourself.

Your supervisor will be an expert in the topic that you have decided to pursue. Often, they will also be a researcher at St John’s, and you may well bump into each other between supervisions – which can be handy when you have a burning question, or can’t find that all-important book!


How to choose a course

If you are thinking of applying to St John’s, you should look carefully at the subject you are considering studying, and in particular at the entry requirements and details. You can find out more by clicking on the links below.

You can also read more about the course, and see which College researchers work in the same area, and what their specialist interests are.

We are pleased to hold regular sessions and programmes for prospective applicants throughout the year. Teachers and HE advisers at schools and colleges who would like to receive updates via email about our events and programmes can complete this expression of interest formStudents who would like to receive updates via email about our events and programmes should fill in this expression of interest form.

Personal Support

A student chats with an academic

The people responsible for your academic progress and welfare are your Director of Studies and your Tutor. Both will usually be based in College; it is likely you will see them around pretty often.

Your Director of Studies will usually be a College Fellow who will help you organise your subject options and guide you through your student career. Your DoS will normally see you at the start of each term, but is available for consultation throughout your degree course.

Your Tutor will usually teach a completely different subject, but their job is to help with your personal academic development and to provide you with any practical support you need. You will have a meeting with them at the beginning and end of each term, but each Tutor also has weekly “Tutorial times” when you can drop in to discuss any problems.

The College is also home to a friendly Student Services office, which is your first port of call for information on a range of matters like exams, references, bills, tutorials, accommodation, and more. For students with disabilities a range of additional support is available. 


Students study in the library

As well as being a short distance from the University Library and most departments, St John’s has one of the largest college libraries in Cambridge – or two, to be precise.

Our Working Library is open 24 hours a day and houses more than 105,000 borrowable books, as well as periodicals, DVDs, computing facilities and even a full-size skeleton and model brain! Next door, the Old Library, built in 1624, is one of the most beautiful spaces in Cambridge and home to outstanding collections, manuscripts and rare books.

Find out more about the Library and Archives

Modern study often means that you need to stay connected. St John’s has good wi-fi coverage, high-speed network connections in all on-site rooms, and computer rooms for general use.

Because the very best education involves being able to explore new ideas, questions and places, we also offer book grants and travel grants, to help you discover new interests and make the most of your College experience.

IT facilities

A man types on a laptop keyboard

The College makes a variety of IT facilities available to its members. There are two computer rooms, equipped with scanners and printers, and a number of public access points in convenient locations around the College. These systems are connected to the University's Managed Cluster Service (MCS). The MCS provides file storage which may be accessed from almost all University departments and ensures a consistent computing environment across the University. More details about the College's computer facilities are available to members on the current members sections of this website.

The College provides secure, high-speed wired network connections to all rooms on the main site and most external hostels. In addition secure, high speed wireless has been installed covering the whole of the main site and this will be extended to the majority of hostels in due course.

IT Department Help Desk

The IT Department provides a Help Desk service to all College members. This includes help and advice on computing issues and a limited disaster recovery service to help users get data back should their own computers fail. Contact details and opening times are available to members on the current members sections of this website.

Personal Computers

The College requires all computers connected to the network to be secure and actively supported by their software suppliers. We will provide assistance with anti-virus software and operating system patches. However, computers are required to have a reasonably up-to-date operating system before we will allow them on the network:

  • PCs - Windows 10
  • Apple Macs - OSX 10.13 or later
  • Linux - judged on a case by case basis

As a rule of thumb any machine manufactured in the last 5 years should be fine.


Cyber Essentials logo

St John’s College has received the Cyber Essentials Certificate of Assurance, demonstrating that it has met the Cyber Essentials implantation profile released February 2017 and that its ICT defences were assessed as satisfactory against commodity based cyber attack.

Cyber Essentials notes to editors