Frequently Asked Questions
We hope this page, which has been put together by our graduate students, will answer some of the questions you may have about Murray Edwards College and the University of Cambridge in general, as well as addressing some concerns about Murray Edwards College that prospective students often have....
What is a Cambridge College?
What accommodation does Murray Edwards College offer?
Can I invite people back to my room?
Does Murray Edwards College cater for students with disabilities?
What is the MCR?
How many graduate students are there at Murray Edwards College?
Are there many overseas students at Murray Edwards College?
What is it like living in an all-female college?
What are the buildings like?
Can I study part-time at Murray Edwards College?
Are there any central University buildings?
How easily can I escape the city centre?
Will I be able to join any University clubs and societies?
How can I find out more information about Murray Edwards College?
It is difficult to explain the role of the Cambridge College, because it is different from any other university (except Oxford), but in essence, for graduates, the main role of a College is to look after your general welfare, including the provision of accommodation (as far as possible), meals and other social amenities; all your teaching and learning will be done centrally at your Department. A College is more than just a hall of residence. It is also a community which cares about you and your well-being so that you are not lost in a sea of thousands of students. A more detailed explanation can be found in the University's Graduate Prospectus.
Murray Edwards College has a graduate accommodation block (Canning & Eliza Fok House). The building has been purpose-built for graduates and is attractive and very well designed. The rooms are bright, warm and spacious, and there are large communal kitchens on each floor with seating areas for socialising. At the heart of Canning and Eliza is the Graduate Common Room (MCR -see below).
Graduate students can also live in one of Murray Edwards College's graduate houses; one of these is on-site and the others are located in the streets around the college. In a graduate house you will live with 4 or 5 other students, and it is a wonderful opportunity to make friends.
If you choose, you can find your own accommodation in Cambridge with some friends once you have arrived and settled in.
There are no restrictions whatsoever on who you invite back to your room, as long as you are considerate to the other people living near you. Obviously, late at night you are asked to escort your friends in and out of the College to maintain security.
Yes - it tries hard to help students who have difficulties. Most graduate rooms, for example, will be wheelchair accessible when Canning & Eliza House is opened. More information can be found in the Murray Edwards College section of the University's Disability Access Guide.
The 'MCR' is two things. The initials stand for 'Middle Combination Room' and refer both to the room itself and the graduate union at Murray Edwards College; all graduate students at the College are automatically members. Murray Edwards College does everything it can to promote graduate socialising and include its graduate students in college life. It is the only Cambridge college to offer free formal halls (dinners) every week for graduates. Guests (men, women, any college, non-Cambridge, anyone!) are most welcome and all dietary requirements are catered for, including vegetarian, halal and kosher. The MCR also arranges formal hall exchanges with other colleges every term, and you can go with friends to their colleges whenever they invite you.
The MCR is also the name of a large purpose-built room in the Canning & Eliza building, and is essentially a social room for graduates of Murray Edwards College with their friends and guests. Murray Edwards College has possibly the best MCR in Cambridge. It is huge, with big sofas, tables, enormous windows, a kitchen, television, DVDs, games, books, etc. etc. You can relax there at any time and invite guests to join you, or even do some work! It is also where graduates go after formal halls to drink coffee and port and talk some more. There are two computers solely for the use of graduates just outside the MCR, and the printing is free.
Murray Edwards College aims to have approximately one hundred graduate students, many of whom are mature students (which in Cambridge terms means over 25 years old).
Half of all graduates at Murray Edwards College are from overseas! We are very used to welcoming international students and there are many ways that Murray Edwards College and the University help overseas students to settle in.
Murray Edwards College is not a convent-full of nuns or people who believe that men are bad. In fact, many of our staff and fellows are men, and they believe strongly in the importance of education for women (after all, for hundreds of years women could not be educated at Cambridge at all!). In the all-female student body you will meet people like yourself, who want to succeed on their own terms. For many there is the opportunity not to be in a minority in the academic setting and to interact with many women who thrive in the wider university world. You can read about the students' perspective on living in a women's college in the Alternative Prospectus (PDF).
Murray Edwards College was founded in the 1950s, so all the architecture ranges from the 1960s to 2000s. Many people love the clean lines and modern feel, and in fact the Dome (the dining hall) is a Grade II* listed building. If you have your heart set on ancient buildings there are more than enough in the city centre to look at, wander through and take photos of, without the inconvenience to modern life of having to live in old buildings. As you become familiar with the city you may even start not to notice them anymore! Similarly, as you live and work at Murray Edwards College you will perhaps find that it is not the buildings that catch your attention, but the things you do and the people you do things with.
Murray Edwards College was one of the first colleges to accept part-time graduates and already has a small but growing number of part-time students who are full members of the College with access to library, computing and other facilities. Further information about life in College for part-time students is available on the graduate tutorial pages.
Although not all courses can be followed in this way, PhDs and MPhils in many subjects are now available for part-time study. The Board of Graduate Studies gives further details on its website and in the Information for Prospective Students on Part-Time Research Degrees.pdf
Cambridge University has no campus. It is a series of buildings scattered throughout the city (but it is a small city!). Some Departments are very close to Murray Edwards College and some further away, but everything is within walking or cycling distance. Or if you are feeling lazy there are lots of buses! Although there is no central official Student Union there is a Graduate Union, which has a central building and puts on numerous courses and events (find out more on the Graduate Union website ).
There is also a University Centre, which is a very attractive venue for socialising and relaxing. The Grad Café, on the top floor, has stunning views of the river (see the University Centre website ).
There are many open spaces and parks in Cambridge, including Jesus Green, Midsummer Common and Parker's Piece, and if you know where to go, you can very quickly find yourself in the countryside too. A short walk (or punt!) up the river takes you to Grantchester, home to several excellent pubs and The Orchard Tea Garden (frequented in the past by many famous Cambridge students, including Rupert Brooke, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes).
The University of Cambridge has the largest number of clubs and societies of any university in Britain. A list of all the University societies is available at www.societies.cam.ac.uk You will find that there are endless opportunities to socialise outside college with any one or more of these clubs and societies.
Murray Edwards College itself also offers a wide range of sporting, musical and other societies.
If you have any questions about scholarships/studentships and other financial matters please email email@example.com. The MCR president (firstname.lastname@example.org), can answer your questions about the MCR and social scene at Murray Edwards College.