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Students at Sidney

Matt, Computer Science


Sidney in three words: “Sainsbury’s, Supportive, Sibilance.”

Why study CompSci in Sidney?Sidney’s intake for CompSci is usually relatively low (normally 1 or 2). I think this is great because, when I first arrived, it encouraged me to make friends with people from other subjects and learn about all of their interesting, very different perspectives on the world. Now, it gives me a great work-life balance between Sidney and the Computer Lab. Don’t worry about the low numbers affecting your potential though, because Sidney is affiliated with Churchill College (among others) for Computer Science. This means that we get to share their great resources, like their excellent supervisors. And there are plenty of opportunities to make friends with other Cambridge CompScis too!”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge?This kind of question is always incredibly difficult to answer, because I have loads of great memories already, after less than 2 years in Cambridge. This university is full of so many genuinely interesting, intelligible, talented people and as a result it’s probably been the best two years of my life. If I’m being forced to think about one particular moment, it’s probably helping to set up and run Sidney’s Silent Disco on the second night of Freshers’ Week. For a bit of context, I’m one of Sidney’s elected Entertainment Reps, and I help out behind a huge array of events, from Bops to Comedy nights, to pub quizzes. It’s such an amazing feeling when I can see how my hard work is directly making my fellow students have fun and be happy.”

Martina, Engineering

Sidney in three words: “Friendly, Fun, Freedom!”

Why study engineering at Sidney? “Engineering is awesome! Sidney engineers are lucky enough to come in cohorts of about 12 people, which means you always have other engineers to share problems, ideas, and projects with. Equally, Sidney is famous for its engineering Fellows – these are the academics who supervise you and make sure you really understand the subject, stretching your thinking beyond the scope of the course. There is as much or as little competition as you want between Sidney engineers and there’s always plenty of time to be doing other things: sports, drama, languages, running various committees (May Ball, HinduSoc, CUES, rowing, etc.) so you don’t end up missing out on the fun to be had at Cambridge.”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge? “Sitting in the sun in Sidney gardens after exams in first year. It was lovely to just be able to read a book, chat to friends, drink Pimms, eat strawberries and be totally free of any kind of work.”

Gillian, Chemical Engineering


Sidney in three words: “Close to Sainsbury’s!"

Why study Chemical Engineering in Sidney? “Everyone at Sidney is really friendly, the gardens are lovely and the atmosphere around college is great, but being across from Sainsbury’s is a total lifesaver when you realise you have no dinner and it’s 2 minutes until Sainsbury’s closes on a Sunday. As there are usually only one or two Chemical Engineers per year at Sidney, you’re guaranteed to make friends at other colleges, which is really nice. It also means you don’t really have to fight over books in the library! In general, Chemical Engineering at Cambridge is a great choice- the department is very friendly and the course is really interesting.”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge?Although it’s a bit touristy, going punting at the end of May Week last year was just so nice (May Week is a time when everyone relaxes and has fun at the very end of term). Exams were over and the sun was out – it was the perfect way to spend a couple hours with friends.”

Anna, Geography


Sidney in three words: “Central, friendly, small.”

Why study Geography at Sidney? “Geography at Sidney is great, we have our very own geography society called the Chorley Society which holds regular talks and a much-anticipated annual dinner. This means that you get to know the other geographers in your college well, not only from your year but from other years too, so geography as a subject has a nice community feel to it! Sidney’s central location is very convenient for the Geography Department – it only takes you around 10 minutes to walk to lectures in the morning, giving you plenty of opportunity for morning lie-ins. Our library is also fantastically well stocked – it has basically all the books you’ll need in first year, so you don’t even have to walk over to the University Library or department library for your work.”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge? “I have many of favourite memories from Cambridge, most of which revolve around lounging outside, ‘working’ in Sidney gardens in the sun with my friends. One of my favourites was coxing my rowing crew for Lent Bumps in my first year, when we got a shock ‘overbump’ (that’s really good) in our last race. We were interviewed by CamFM (the student radio station) on the side of the river before subjecting Sidney’s Boat Club to a raucous rendition of our musical speech ‘One Row More’ at the boat club dinner that evening. Sidney’s Boat Club is impressively large for our college size and really inclusive, again adding to the friendly community spirit of Sidney!”

Justin, Mathematics


Sidney in three words:Close to Sainsbury’s.”

Why study mathematics at Sidney?Mathematics is one of the most prestigious courses at Cambridge. Sidney is one of the smaller colleges, and as such the mathematicians provide a lot of support for each other, offering help if necessary. The Allen Society (Sidney’s mathematical society) also puts on some good events, with free food, drinks, and a lecture about a (usually) interesting subject.”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge?There are too many good times to pick out a single one – social events like May Week, formals are obvious choices but more than that there are sporting events, talks and even some comic moments in lectures that stand out, usually when a lecturer makes an error in their delivery… intentional maths jokes tend to be pretty poor.”

Alex, Modern and Medieval Languages

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 21.50.59

Sidney in three words:Welcoming...Nurturing...Home.”

Why MML at Sidney? “MML at Sidney provides you with a great opportunity: you will live and study in a college known for its open and friendly attitude, where you can benefit from the high calibre of staff (academic and otherwise) throughout your degree. Sidney has various links with universities and companies around the world for your Year Abroad, and its MML Fellows are experts in a wide-range of subjects.

Work aside, Sidney’s social life is great too. We boast one of the few student-run bars to still exist in the whole of the University and there are frequently parties and dinners to have fun at. All in all, Sidney is great, and you already know that MML is great (since its your choice of course), so what’s stopping you?”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge? “Most of my best memories of Sidney have been due to all the great friends I’ve made here. I could not have hoped for a better bunch of friends to spend my time with. If I had to pick one single event, it would be Sidney May Ball in my first year. Every 2 years, Sidney hosts a massive black-tie ball inside the College walls and it is genuinely one of the most fun and exciting parts of the year. A chance to celebrate after exams and just to enjoy what the College can offer!”

Joe, Natural Sciences


Sidney in three words: “Friendly, welcoming, fun.”

Why study Natural Sciences at Sidney? “Natural Sciences is a great course to study because it allows you to learn about broad range of subjects before specialising in the area that you feel passionate about. I was unsure whether I wanted to be a biologist or chemist initially and the Natural Sciences course allowed me to explore both areas in first year. It also provided the opportunity for me to study History and Philosophy of Science in second year, alongside chemistry. The course is challenging and forces me to think about science in ways I hadn’t previously considered. Lab classes are really enjoyable too, and the time I spend in labs is usually quite relaxed – we’re given an experiment and plenty of time in which to carry it out, then we discuss the implications of our results with a demonstrator.

The small community at Sidney is wonderful for so many reasons; one thing that’s helpful about studying such a popular subject is that there’s always someone to talk to about a field you find interesting, or someone to ask about a question you’re having difficulty answering.”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge? “My favourite memory is when we won against Queens’ Collegein the final moments of my last game as college lacrosse captain. I enjoy playing with the team every week, but that game was certainly the best.”

Alia, Philosophy


Sidney in three words: “Chill; Friendly; Caring.”

Why study Philosophy in Sidney?There are, at most, three philosophers in a year, so you get to form really close-knit subject groups – so even if you don’t hang out all day every day, you’re still really close friends with the others on your course! Also the location at Sidney is great so the furthest you have to walk for lectures is only around 20 minutes!”

Favourite memory from college/Cambridge?Winning the Alphabet Bop for dressing as an aeroplane… Or my friends chilling in my room after a meal on my birthday… Or finding out I was put in the number one women’s boat for rowing in college… Or just being here… I love it!”

There are many more subjects to study at Sidney than those listed above. Check out the subject page to see a full list. There is also more detailed information about Cambridge courses on the university website  and you can see student and staff testimonials on the BeCambridge website.

Cambridge University Student’s Union (CUSU) runs Twitter accounts for most subjects at Cambridge – every day a student will let you know what they’re doing as part of their degree at Cambridge. You can find them all at #CambTweet.

If you have any questions, you can contact Admissions Officer, Miss Sophie Comiskey (), Tel. +44 1223 3 38872) or the student Access Officer ( for more information.

Have you ever wondered how a typical day might look for a sciences or arts student at Sidney Sussex? If so, then Trina and James are both here to tell you more!

Trina, Natural Sciences

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 20.49.31          Every day starts with a few lectures in the morning, beginning at 9 or 10am. Lectures are held in the various departments of the subjects that you are taking, and handouts with detailed notes are usually provided (one of the perks of being a scientist!) Unfortunately, being a scientist also means that you have to go to Saturday morning lectures, unlike your friends from other subjects. However, the promise of Saturday brunch is enough to motivate you through the Saturday lectures! After lectures, there are often practical classes to go to, which can be from 3 to 6 hours long. Practicals involve doing lab work related to the theoretical material covered in the lectures that week.  On days with these labs, you tend to carry a packed lunch to eat in the lab lunch break, which is often an hour. Otherwise you can go out and grab a bite to eat from the various cafés around. On days without labs, I usually go back to college for lunch, where I’ll cook a light meal or (on lazier days) buy something ready-made from Sainsbury’s, which is just opposite college.

In the afternoons, I usually prepare for my supervisions, which occur mainly in the early evenings. In supervisions, we discuss the lecture material from the previous week and learn extra material beyond the course, as well as being able to ask any questions we may have on topics. Each supervisor sets weekly work that usually takes between 3-4 hours each, and we can have supervisions 3 or 4 times a week.

For dinner, I usually go to hall in college with my friends, where we can buy a range of hot or cold meals at reasonable prices. It’s a nice time to socialise and relax. After hall, most people spend the evenings doing extracurricular activities (for example, I sing in Sidney Singers), or in their rooms or the library doing supervision work and reading over lecture notes to consolidate what they’ve learnt. Often we are all tired of working by around 9pm, at which point we socialise, for example, in the JCR or the college bar!        


James, History


         After staying in bed for as long as possible –that’s usually until either 8am or 6am, depending on whether I’m rowing that morning– I head off to the faculty for a lecture. These cover the broader aspects of the papers we take, covering the key themes and events, and are given by leaders in the field. After a lecture on the changing diplomatic relations between Britain and France at the start of the twentieth century, and a class on Henry II and the Angevin Empire in the twelfth century, I head back to college for lunch.

 After making myself lunch and catching up with my neighbour, I settle in to do some reading for my weekly essay. This is the standard form of work in History. Each week you meet your supervisor, either alone or in groups of two or three. For an hour, you discuss the ins and outs of the essay for that week, going over some of the points you didn’t understand, and also stretching your understanding of the topic a little. At the end, you get a new essay to complete for the next week, along with a list of somewhere between six and twelve books to have a look at in order to build your answer.

 Daily work usually involves continuing to work through the reading list for that week, building an idea first of what the different important themes and factors are for the week’s essay, and then finding your own argument to answer the question. This week I’m trying to examine why after the French Revolution, the new French republic ended up at war with Britain.

 At 6pm, it’s time for dinner in hall. This is a good chance to catch up with friends and make plans for the evening, all the while eating in a beautiful sixteenth century dining hall, with excellent food cooked for you.

 After dinner, I head back to my room to do a little more reading, before heading to the bar for a game of pool and a drink. At 10:40pm, I meet up with my co-hosts, and we head over to the CamFM Studio to present our weekly radio show. We play songs along a different theme each week. Tonight the theme is music from video games. At about quarter past midnight, I get back to college and listen to a podcast for a little while in bed before going to sleep.

Watch this video to hear from some other students about what it's like to study at the University of Cambridge.