Magdalene College

Everything you are about to read has been written by current and recently graduated students at the University of Cambridge, to give you honest information about what it’s like to be a student at Cambridge.

Magdalene College is a small College located slightly away from the town centre on the banks of the River Cam. It has a stunning diverse range of architecture and fantastically beautiful gardens. The fact that this is combined with lots of local amenities, while at the same time offering peace and quiet make Magdalene stand out. The college has a completely mixed intake and typically admits slightly more than a hundred undergraduates each year.

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Magdalene College

Credit: Cambridge University

Key facts

  • Distance to Sports Pitch
    335m, squash and eton fives court on site
  • Gym
    2 - separate weights and cardio-based gyms.
  • Music Practice Rooms
    4
  • Prayer spaces
    College Chapel and plenty of communal rooms
  • Special Diets Main Meal
    Vegetarian/Vegan: Every lunch & dinner. About 9 or 10 of these options are vegan per week; the other 2 or 2 are vegetarian.
  • Special Diets Main Meal
    Other: Menus available in advance and contain allergen advice. Booking system allows selection of dietary requirements/allergies
  • Theatre space
    Yes-Cripps Court Auditorium
  • Undergraduates / Year
    116

What is your favourite thing about Magdalene?

Emma
Emma
Robert, Magdalene, Engineering, 3rd year
Robert
Engineering, 3rd year

Emma: Magdalene in the summer term is unbeatable! We’re lucky enough to have our own punts which you can sign out free of charge and take up and down the river Cam, and also our own ‘beach’: the large bank of grass where punts are launched from, which is the best place to picnic and sunbathe. As a college it’s very compact and there are always events going on, so you quickly feel at home with many friendly faces. Being only two minutes from the centre of town is also pretty awesome. As a college it’s very respectful of its students, ready to help with any problems and receptive to things you want to change about college life.

Robert: My favourite thing about Magdalene is the quality of Engineering teaching and social elements. These help to create a very productive environment where co-operation is valued far higher than individual competitions. As soon as new students arrive they are welcomed and given support by students from across the years of the course. Helpful advice and suggestions are passed down from year to year, some advice decades old. The college staff are incredibly well organised which makes the transition to a much harder workload manageable. Each student has a Director of Studies and a number of supervisors assigned to them for each year. The academic staff are able to present you with identified goals and structure a timescale to achieve them.

Describe your College’s atmosphere

Robert, Magdalene, Engineering, 3rd year
Robert
Engineering, 3rd year

The most obvious consideration about Magdalene is that a relatively small intake and College layout means you’ll get a chance to meet everyone. This leads to a relaxed friendly atmosphere which reflects the diversity of personalities and experiences students contribute. Regular college events allow opportunities for students to get together whether that is over a heated debate or an end of term party. Magdalene has no historic precedent for specialisation in a certain area so the College enjoys a broad range of successes both in academic fields and elsewhere. Students are free to enjoy and experience a range of the available societies on offer. This reflects into everyday living with no pressure to do the ‘right’ thing since many different pathways all have positive things they can offer.

What is the accommodation like?

Choong Ling, Magdalene,
Choong Ling
Natural Sciences, 2nd year

The rooms in Magdalene are a mixture of bedsits and sets (i.e. separate bedroom from living/working area) with some en-suites. The rooms are divided into price bands, from 1* to 5. The vast majority of the rooms will have a sink (unless it’s an en-suite) and a mini-fridge. About ? of the undergraduates live in “The Village”; a collection of buildings just across the road from the Porters’ Lodge. All of Magdalene’s accommodation is very close together (a maximum of three minutes walk from the main college site) which helps to create a close, community feel. Magdalene guarantees accommodation for three or four years, dependent on the course. In subsequent years, rooms are chosen by a ballot. Half way through the year, the names of students are drawn in a random order, and rooms are picked according to that order. For third year rooms, this ballot order is reversed. It is possible to ballot alone, or in a group of up to eight people.

How good is the food?

Emma
Emma

Pretty good! Every day hot and cold meals are served in Ramsay dining hall at breakfast, lunch and dinner, for very reasonable prices. There are always three or so options, which cover dietary requirements such as vegetarian or vegan, but the best thing about Ramsay is the chance to catch up with friends over a meal. This is especially true at weekends, when the very popular ‘brunch’ is served. Everyone also has access to small communal kitchens near their rooms, and many students enjoy cooking for themselves. Formal Hall at Magdalene is the chance to have a delicious three course meal in the candlelit 16th century hall, for only £6.50 currently! A real treat, offered every night, though people mainly go to celebrate birthdays.

What about entertainment and extra-curricular activities?

Emma
Emma

Magdalene is a real beehive with people encouraged to do many different things with their spare time. During fresher’s week you’ll typically go to events like pizza, film or games evenings, pub-quizzes and college ‘bop’(fancy dress party) laid on by the JCR, and held in the two communal spaces - the bar and common room. These events continue to run throughout the year, always getting a good turnout as there’s real college spirit. Wherever your interests lie - Magdalene will probably have the facilities for you to pursue them, as we’ve our own theatre, chapel, music hall, games room, punts and much more! Sports-wise, we share close by pitches and courts with St John’s college, and have our own boathouse and squash court. One of the great advantages of the university being organised into colleges is that you can play pretty much any sport you want, either competitively or for fun, without needing too much commitment or experience. Having said that many people enjoy taking college sport to a high level and Magdalene has various teams competing in intercollegiate leagues, and at the top level there are also university wide teams.

What welfare support is there?

Robert, Magdalene, Engineering, 3rd year
Robert
Engineering, 3rd year

The college has a strong support network. Officially, your Director of Studies and Tutor are the first ports of call for academic and non-academic matters respectively. However, there are many more people within college you can talk to. The College Chaplain is always happy to talk about anything, even if you are of a different faith. He also has cake & curry or port & hot chocolate evenings throughout term, open to all. The JCR also has a welfare officer, who is willing to talk about anything welfare-related and open to suggestions of welfare things that can be done by the students. One of these things is “week five packs”, where, on the fifth week of term, all of the undergrads receive a bag full of sweets, chocolates, crisps and toys. The college also has several student minds representatives, who run mental health awareness campaigns, and have started events such as a cake evening; where they will also deliver cake to people who can’t make it to the main event themselves.

What about your College would you change?

Robert, Magdalene, Engineering, 3rd year
Robert
Engineering, 3rd year

Magdalene College could streamline the process of reserving rooms (or punts) by introducing an online system. Magdalene students are currently able to reserve rooms (or punts) free of charge but a quick check which doesn’t involve walking to the Porter’s lodge or conferencing office would be valuable. Also the Magdalene JCR web page is very rarely updated and the Balloting site is missing a large amount of basic information such as which floors certain rooms are on. If an enthusiastic IT officer was elected to the JCCR they would be able to fix this.

What has been going on at Magdalene College?

- Recent Events -

Guitar recital

Some students from the Magdalene Musical Society performed a guitar recital in the College chapel.

Cake and Hot Chocolate evening

The Magdalene representatives for Student Minds (a welfare scheme) ran a ‘Cake and Hot Chocolate evening’ in the Junior Common Room - students could drop in, relax there for the evening, or even order a delivery to their room!

College party

College discos are usually called ‘bops’ at Cambridge, and Magdalene had one at the end of term that was Mythology-themed!

College Gallery

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