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Postgraduate prospectus

Welcome! Our aim at St Catharine's College (fondly known as Catz) is to be a friendly, supportive community which helps you make the most of all the University of Cambridge has to offer.

Two students at St Catharine's College in academic dress

Postgraduate students become a member of a college on joining the University of Cambridge and can select two college preferences as part of the application process. Colleges provide postgraduate students with accommodation, facilities and support during their time at Cambridge. Visit the University's website for up-to-date information about course availability and the application process. 

This online prospectus has been created with our current postgraduates to help applicants make confident decisions about their application. We also decided to create an online resource (instead of a traditional/printed prospectus) to save paper and water consumption, and reduce CO2 emissions. 

Please use the tabbed sections below to explore aspects of life at Catz that are important to you. 

Founded in 1473, Catz is a close-knit and friendly community of students, academics (known as Fellows) and staff situated in the very heart of Cambridge. Read about our history.

We are committed to attracting students with the highest academic potential, regardless of their gender or their financial, social, religious or ethnic background, and supporting them fully throughout their time at one of the best universities in the world.

Our community in numbers

Pie chart showing the St Catharine's College community: 36% postgraduates, 45% undergraduates, 13% staff and 6% Fellows
The Catz community in 2022–23: 36% postgraduates, 45% undergraduates, 13% staff and 6% Fellows

Of the roughly 1,000 people who live, work and study at Catz, over a third are postgraduate students.

Catz is a co-educational institution, which is reflected in our postgraduate population:

  • Female = 177 students
  • Male = 188 students
  • Other = 7 students

The College attracts talented students from a wide range of countries, creating a vibrant, international postgraduate community:

  • UK/Home = 152 students
  • International = 220 students

The 372 postgraduate students at Catz in 2022–23 were enrolled on a variety of courses:

  • PhDs = 190 students
  • Master's = 135 students
  • Clinical Vets & Medics = 43 students
  • Other = 4 students

Getting around Catz

There are maps of the facilities on the College's Island/main site (enlarged version available) and the College's sites across the city of Cambridge (enlarged version available).

Visitor map of St Catharine's College
Illustrated map of St Catharine's College-owned sites in Cambridge

Find further information about our location and visiting us.

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At Catz, you'll be supported to work hard and thrive in a highly stimulating intellectual environment, and to attain your full academic and personal potential. 

The medium size of the College facilitates the friendly and relatively informal atmosphere for which Catz is so well known across Cambridge. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet and learn from resident academics (known as Fellows) and other students from a wide range of subjects. 

St Catharine's postgraduate students play scrabble in the MCR
Catz postgraduate students play scrabble in the MCR

Middle Combination Room

On admission to the College, postgraduate students become members of the Middle Combination Room (MCR). The MCR gets its name from an actual room at Catz where postgraduates can still meet and relax together, as well as using it as an extra study space in addition to the College's libraries.

Every year, our postgraduates elect representatives to the MCR Committee, which is responsible for organising an active calendar of social and academic events, and providing an important link between our students and decision-making bodies at Catz. Indeed, our MCR Committee is one of the best reasons to come to Catz for your postgraduate studies – they are the main reason Catz is known to have one of the most active and sociable postgraduate communities in Cambridge. Visit the MCR's website.

Praharsh, who was re-elected the MCR's Co-President 2023–24, explains:

"The MCR is a student society at Catz made up of students studying PhDs, Master's degrees and the clinical portion of medical/veterinary medicine degrees. The MCR Committee organises lots of fun events throughout the year to help you to settle into college life, meet new people and form new friendships!"

Seminar series

Speakers and organisers for the 2022 Tunku centenary postgraduate research seminar
Speakers and organisers for the special postgraduate seminar celebrating 100 years since Tunku Abdul Rahman joined Catz

The MCR hosts a series of weekly seminars during term-time, which aims to strengthen the sense of community at Catz and promote interdisciplinary discussion by bridging the distances that the University structure by departments can inadvertently produce.

Each seminar includes at least one presentation from a student or Fellow about a topic of special interest to them, followed by open discussion and networking opportunities. 

Barbara, who was elected the MCR's Education Officer 2022–23, explains why the seminar series is so special:

"Everyone is welcome and no one expects you to have any background knowledge! These are weekly opportunities to get to know some of the other postgrads and Fellows at Catz while learning something new, outside your field of research, in a friendly environment. If you're still unsure about whether to attend: there are free sandwiches, cake and coffee."

 

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Catz has invested over £30 million in improving our student accommodation and facilities over the last few years, including enhancing the accessibility and sustainability of our historical buildings. Catz postgraduate accommodation is all within easy reach of Cambridge city centre and the College's main site on Trumpington Street. All our residences are served well by local amenities, and are particularly convenient for either the University Library and Sidgwick Site or the Downing Site, New Museums Site and Judge Business School. You'll be guaranteed to be living with other Catz students, enabling you to socialise and interact with others alongside your academic studies. 

The College aims to offer accommodation to all new full-time postgraduate students in their first year, who have requested accommodation by 15 August and who have been officially admitted by the University by 1 September. In exceptional years (e.g. with higher than normal admissions), we may be unable to achieve this aim.

Those applying/starting later in the academic year, or for just one term may be offered accommodation only if there are vacancies available. Accommodation in subsequent years is offered strictly subject to availability. The College's accommodation is accredited by ANUK (Accreditation Network UK). 

What's included in Catz accommodation for postgraduates?

Essential furniture (bed, desk, desk chair, wardrobe, drawers, shelves)

Essential electrical equipment (lamps in bedrooms; kettle, toaster, cooker/oven and fridge/freezer in shared kitchens; plus shared laundry facilities)

Heating, lighting and water bills are all included in your rent, as is high speed broadband internet access. This is available as high speed wi-fi.

✓ Security: The Catz Porters' Lodge is contactable 24/7 if students have any security concerns. In addition, most properties benefit from CCTV.

SafetyFire blankets and extinguishers are provided. Fire alarms are in operation and tested every week (typically Wednesday mornings between 9am and 12pm).

Cleaning: The Catz housekeeping team aims to clean student bedrooms at least once every 1–2 weeks and and also regularly cleans all communal areas, including corridors, kitchens and shared bathrooms. They also remove rubbish and recycling from shared areas. 

Gardens: Many properties have their own gardens, which are maintained by the Catz gardeners for students to enjoy.

Find out more about the range of Catz accommodation available to postgraduate students and how this is allocated. 

Find out more about the accommodation options for postgraduate students with disabilities. 

St Catharine's College Russell Street accommodation exterior
Some postgraduates live at the College's property on Russell Street
St Catharine's College bedroom at Grantchester Meadows
A postgraduate bedroom at Catz

Other accommodation options

St Catharine's postgraduates may rent accommodation via the private market if they prefer. 

If you intend to live outside the the University's precincts (the 10 mile radius of Great St Mary's church), you must apply to the Board of Postgraduate Studies for permission. Please refer to the University's residency requirements for further information.

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When applying for postgraduate courses offered by the University of Cambridge it is essential that you secure funding before you arrive. Visit the University's webpages to find out more about postgraduate fees, finance, funding and financial assistance.

It's very unlikely that you'll be able to find extra funding once you are at Cambridge, so please don't count on this to cover your fees or basic living costs. 

University fees

Before coming to Cambridge, you must have guaranteed funding for every year of your course. The Postgraduate Admissions Office has a maintenance calculator that you can use to work out your rough living costs while you're here. Please think of this as the minimum amount you'll need.

You'll need to pay the University Composition Fee for each year of your postgraduate course at Cambridge, except for the fourth year of a PhD.

Postgraduate bursaries and scholarships

Catz offers a limited number of bursaries and scholarships for incoming postgraduate students. This is in addition to the support available from the University's departments and faculties. Click the individual links below to see if you are eligible to apply.

Non-subject specific

Annual Fund Postgraduate Bursaries 

Masters only

Application deadline:31/3/2023 CLOSED

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme

Doctoral only

Subject-specific

Benavitch Fund for Business Studies 

Doctoral and Masters

Application deadline: 6/3/23 CLOSED

Bowring Scholarships 

Doctoral and Masters

Not be offered in 2024 or 2025 (applications will open in October 2025 for applicants looking to start their degrees in 2026–27)

Jacobson Scholarships in International Law 

Doctoral and LLM

Application deadline: 31/3/2024

Tunku Abdul Rahman Postgraduate Scholarship

Master and Doctoral

Application deadline: 8 January 2024 (if funds remain after this deadline, the committee may consider later applications, with a second deadline of 31 March)

Working while you study

The University does not allow students to undertake external paid work while they're studying full time. However, there are opportunities to work within College on a temporary and part time basis, which is allowed up to a maximum of 10 hours a week. It won't be enough to cover your living costs alone. Further information about working while you study can be found on the Cambridge Students website. If you are studying in the UK on a student visa, it is also your responsibility to be clear about restrictions on working while studying imposed by immigration regulations.

Useful information for US students

University of Cambridge Consumer Information

University of Cambridge US Loans Information

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Libraries and study spaces

Every College in Cambridge has its own library, but at Catz we have two:

  • The Sherlock Library, which dates from the 1750s, contains the College's collection of books on modern languages (including linguistics), English literature, art and architecture, and cinema and theatre studies.
  • The Shakeshaft Library contains the rest of our modern books, our DVD and music collections, computers, printing and binding facilities. 

Nearly everything on the shelves – about 45,000 books – can be borrowed by current members of College. Both libraries are open at all times, although individual students tend to drop in as suits their own study schedule. The Library and Archive team also manages our special collections, including rare books and manuscripts. Find out more about our libraries. 

The College also has well-equipped computer rooms, as well as fast internet access in the MCR's own common room and every student room. 

St Catharine's College Shakeshaft Library
The Shakeshaft Library (credit: Binky Nixon)
St Catharine's students in the Sherlock Library
The Sherlock Library (credit: Binky Nixon)

Catering

The cafeteria in the Hall provides a wide range of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, which students can eat in Hall or take away. In addition to the hot main dishes, there is a fresh salad bar, sandwiches, homemade soup and bread, fruit, coffee, soft drinks and sweet treats available. Each week during term-time, postgraduates can sign up for a formal evening meal (known as 'formal hall'), which brings together students and their guests for a memorable social occasion. 

The Coffee Bar/Bar is a space to study, unwind or party. During the day, the College Bar becomes Catz Coffee Bar, run by College staff and serving coffee all day so you can meet with friends, socialise and relax to get the perfect study/life balance. In the evenings, our students take control and special social events may take place here, including include parties (known as ‘bops’), comedy nights, quiz nights and karaoke nights. Alcoholic drinks are only served in the evening, but soft drinks and coffee/tea are popular throughout the day and evening.

St Catharine's postgraduate students at a formal hall
Postgraduate students at a formal hall (credit: Tobia Nava)
St Catharine's students at the College Bar
The College bar is run by students every evening (credit: Binky Nixon)

The College Chapel

The 18th-century Chapel is a calm and beautiful space in the heart of the College, open every day from early until late. Anyone, of any faith or none, can spend time in the Chapel. Every day at lunchtime music is broadcast in the Chapel as an aid to reflection. The worshipping life of the Chapel includes both formal choral services and more informal opportunities for worship. Find out more about Chapel services, visiting preachers and events

The Prayer Room

The Multifaith Prayer Room is also located in the heart of the College. It is open to any and all members of the Catz community and can be used for personal prayer in any religious tradition, or for meditation, reflection, or just peace and quiet. Find out more about the room’s facilities and how to access them.

The St Catharine's College Chapel and choir
The Chapel and choir
Students photographing a noticeboard in the St Catharine's College multifaith prayer room
Students in the multifaith prayer room

Sports facilities

Catz is proud to maintain a range of sports facilities to benefit our community – some of the best of any Cambridge College. These exist primarily so that our students can realise as much as possible of their personal potential while studying at the College. All facilities are available for no additional charge. Find out more about our different indoor and outdoor sports facilities.

St Catharine's College boathouse from above
The College's own boathouse welcomes new and experienced rowers
St Catharine's-branded weights in the College gym
The College has its own purpose-built gym (credit: Binky Nixon)

Music facilities

There are two rehearsal spaces in College, both of them on the main site. Find out more about how to access and book these rehearsal spaces.

Piano player
The music room has a grand piano and space to rehearse
St Catharine's College 2022 May Week Concert
Students and Fellows perform together in the annual May Week concert

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St Catharine's health and wellbeing team
The health and wellbeing team
 

Catz is deeply committed to offering meaningful and effective health and wellbeing support to all members of our community through one-to-one support and a programme of activities. Through care and investment over recent years, the College has established its position at the forefront of welfare provision in Cambridge. 

The core Health & Wellbeing team (the Head of Wellbeing, the Community Health Practitioner and the Chaplain; pictured together) coordinates this support, drawing on resources and initiatives from across the College and beyond. You can find out more about what the team does and access helpful resources from their section of our website

William, a postgraduate student elected as the MCR Welfare Officer 2023–24, explains: 

"In the dynamic academic environment of St Catharine's, students are encouraged to embrace the wealth of health and wellbeing support available to our community, including the Health & Wellbeing team, tutors and porters, all whom want to help you thrive and enjoy your time at Catz."

Postgraduate Tutors

All postgraduate students are assigned a Tutor on joining the College. Our tutors help to support the general well-being of their students (or ‘tutees’), and you should not hesitate to call on your tutor for advice or assistance on navigating academic, financial, social and personal matters while you are at Cambridge. 

Tutor for Disabilities

This particular tutor supports students with disabilities during their time at Cambridge, in their interactions with either the College (e.g. accommodation requirements) or the wider University (often alongside the Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre).

Tutor for Families

Catz has a diverse student population and this includes many parents, especially among our postgraduate students. Please see the resources and support available to students with children.

Head of Wellbeing Mary Simuyandi with St Catharine's postgraduates
Head of Wellbeing with postgraduates

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"We want St Catharine’s to be a diverse and vibrant community wholly committed to fostering an environment where everyone is able to thrive and feel a sense of belonging. We are committed to being an inclusive community with a culture that upholds excellence, diversity and equality of opportunity for all" – Catz Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy 2023

St Catharine’s has made great strides in its recent history towards nurturing equality, diversity and inclusion – and has already modelled best practice in various aspects of College life – yet had not clearly articulated our aims and ambitions until 2023 when our first EDI strategy was published, which explains the College's approach to fostering equality, diversity and inclusion.

In addition, the MCR Committee organises a range of activities throughout the year to support our students, such as meet-ups to connect postgraduate students who identify as Black, Asian and/or other ethnicities that have been traditionally underrepresented at Cambridge.

Recent milestones

Sir Ian McKellen at St Catharine's College with the Rainbow Flag flying
Alumnus Sir Ian McKellen in 2014

2014: Catz first flew the Rainbow Flag to celebrate the return of alumnus Sir Ian McKellen. Over the next seven years, the College flew the Rainbow Flag to mark different national and international days of significance. Since 2021, the Progress Flag has been flown on these occasions to include traditionally marginalised LGBTQ+ communities.

2020: The EDI Working Group was set up, bringing together Catz students, staff and Fellows to guide and inform policies, procedures and behaviours across all aspects of College life. The Working Group was responsible for developing the EDI strategy in 2023 and will lead on the development of action plans to deliver against the College's EDI objectives.

2020 onwards: Catz has started every new academic year by celebrating Black History Month (which is held in October in the UK) and embracing over a century of Black students, staff and Fellows contributing to our academic community. Find out more about our Black history.

2021: An LGBTQ+ Fellow was elected and the LGBTQ+ Care Group was set up to help nurture an environment that is supportive on issues of importance for people who identify as LGBTQ+, by providing a dedicated forum for discussing issues that affect LGBTQ+ members of the Catz community. The Group reports to the EDI Working Group with recommendations and updates on its activities. 

2022: Catz began celebrating Neurodiversity Celebration Week each March.

2022: The multifaith prayer room was opened at Catz.

2023: Catz published its first EDI strategy.

St Catharine's students with sparklers for Diwali
Students celebrate Diwali at Catz
L'myah Sherae interviewed by BBC Look East at St Catharine's College
The BBC has reported on the College's Black history, including research by former postgraduate student L'myah Sherae

 

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Close up of bicycle wheels with autumn leaves

In 2022, Catz published its environmental sustainability strategy setting out an ambition to achieve carbon-equivalent net zero status by 2040 and to deliver a detailed roadmap setting out how the College intends to achieve this goal. The strategy includes guiding principles for all future activity and sets out what the College means by environmental sustainability, why it is important, what the Catz community intends to achieve and how these goals will be delivered. Read the strategy.

The strategy built upon the work started in 2020 when Catz published an investment policy (recently updated in 2023), which demonstrated a commitment to ethical and other issues of social responsibility – including working to address climate change as one of the biggest challenges that humanity has ever faced. 

In 2023, Catz published a roadmap document explaining how it intends to achieve net zero status by 2040, backed up by detailed action plans covering different areas of life at Catz. 

The strategy and roadmap were developed by the Green Working Group, a group consisting of Catz students, staff and Fellows who meet regularly each term to bring environmental issues to the attention of the General Estates Committee, which reports directly to the Governing Body (the Catz Trustees). New students are encouraged to get involved in the Group's activities.

 

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Social activities

The Middle Combination Room (MCR) Committee represents our postgraduates and organises a busy calendar of social activities that encourage our students to make new friends and network. This includes regular 'formals' (formal evening meals), swaps (when our postgraduates visit other Colleges and invite others to visit Catz) and bops (parties held in the Catz Bar). In addition, there might be a board game night held in College or a day-trip to another part of the UK if you are feeling more adventurous. All in all, our active and sociable MCR is one of the very best things about being a Catz postgraduate student.

Sports clubs & societies

St Catharine's College men's football team
The Catz men's football team

There are a large number of clubs and societies at Catz, which bring together both undergraduates and postgraduates with shared interests: from extracurricular activities like Yarn Soc (for crochet and knitting) and sports clubs that welcome students of all abilities, to societies representing specific subjects like literature and science. You’ll find out more and have a chance to sign up when you arrive.

The University's Student Union also organises a Freshers’ Fair so you can explore the hundreds of groups and teams open to all Cambridge students, regardless of their College. Students have the option to get involved in activities at a University or a College level, and most opt for a blend of both!

If you don't find a particular cause or interest represented in the societies and clubs already available, you are more than welcome to set up your own group. In the last couple of years, Catz students have set up Bubble Tea Society, Brown Girl Link Up and Black Girls' Space to name just a few!

Music

Catz is proud of our musical tradition, and provides opportunities to musicians of many kinds and abilities. At the heart of College music is the Catz Choir, which sings two or three services each week, as well as giving regular concerts and traveling on international tours each year. The Catz Choir welcomes enthusiastic singers of all voice parts to perform a wide and varied repertoire.

Christmas Luminaria performance at St Catharine's College
A snowy setting for the Luminaria outdoor performance in 2022

Catz also has a junior Girls' Choir (8–15 year olds; the first of its kind in the UK), which performs each Christmas in a special outdoor performance called 'Luminaria: A Ceremony of Light' for the College and members of the public.

The College hosts performances by professional musicians as part of regular concerts and a summer concert that brings student performers together for an outdoor musical celebration, all of which are free for Catz students.

For ambitious instrumentalists, the College provides Instrumental Awards to support the cost of music lessons. The College's three-manual organ is one of the finest instruments in Cambridge, making the Chapel a popular venue for recitals and other performances.

Find out more by exploring the music section of this website. 

St Catharine's postgraduate students at their midsummer event
A highlight of the social calendar is the MCR's Midsummer Garden Party and Dinner

Contact details

Postgraduate admissions
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