UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, CAMBRIDGE ENGLAND
The university grew out of an association of scholars in the city of Cambridge that was formed, early records suggest, in 1209 by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk. The two “ancient universities” have many common features and are often jointly referred to as Oxbridge. In addition to cultural and practical associations as a historic part of British society, the two universities have a long history of rivalry with each other.
Academically, Cambridge often ranks as one of the world’s topmost universities, the leading university in Europe, and contends with Oxford for first place in UK league tables. The University’s affiliates include 87 Nobel Laureates – the second highest for an institution according to many calculations. The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-led British universities, the Coimbra Group, the League of European Research Universities and the International Alliance of Research Universities.
Cambridge is a collegiate university, meaning that it is made up of self-governing and independent colleges, each with its own property and income. Most colleges bring together academics and students from a broad range of disciplines, and within each faculty, school or department within the university, academics from many different colleges will be found.
The faculties are responsible for ensuring that lectures are given, arranging seminars, performing research and determining the syllabi for teaching, overseen by the General Board. Together with the central administration headed by the Vice-Chancellor, they make up the entire Cambridge University. Facilities such as libraries are provided on all these levels: by the University (the Cambridge University Library), by the departments (departmental libraries such as the Squire Law Library), and by the individual colleges (all of which maintain a multi-discipline library, generally aimed mainly at their undergraduates).
The principal method of teaching at Cambridge colleges is the supervision. These are typically weekly hour-long sessions in which small groups of students – usually between one and three – meet with a member of the university’s teaching staff or a doctoral student. Students are normally required to complete an essay or assignment in advance of the supervision, which they will discuss with the supervisor during the session, along with any concerns or difficulties they have had with the material presented in that week’s lectures. Lectures at Cambridge are often described as being almost a mere ‘bolt-on’ to these supervisions. Students receive between one and three supervisions per week, depending upon their subject. This pedagogical system is often cited as being unique to Cambridge and Oxford (where “supervisions” are known as “tutorials”)