Undergraduate Applications 2021

Welcome to Newnham College! Our Freshers’ t-shirts say “witty and rebellious women since 1871”, and that sums us up.

In normal years, a team of students would be welcoming you in person to Newnham, to discover what makes us special. We’re so sorry you can’t meet our fabulous students as they would love to meet you!  However, our Admissions team are able to offer a few small tours at the end of August – book your spot before spaces run out!

As we can’t see many of you, we have put together a collection of videos, tours, memes and Instas. There’s much more across this site, but this is more of the students’-eye view.

The student-led tour

This tour, recorded in summer 2019 and led by second-year student Roma, is a video version of the tour you’d have if you came to visit in person.


What makes us special?

Newnham is the most supportive, beautiful and conveniently located college. Change my mind.

This is a hugely supportive college. We have generous bursaries and grants available, both for basics like rent, living costs and books, and for more obscure things (the ‘Opportunity fund’ is for whatever you ‘would otherwise be unable to do’). About a third of Newnham undergraduates receive rent bursaries, for example.

We have amazing welfare reps working to support all our college members.  We have a College nurse and a counselor here on site, to support mental and physical health. Even our gardeners run stress-reducing activities!

It’s also beautiful. Take a 360 degree tour of our College Library (most beautiful in Cambridge), College Hall (most beautiful in Cambridge) and College Gardens (most beautiful in Cambridge). Not that we’re biased.

Student Vee Tames wrote about Newnham’s buildings in the student newspaper

What you won’t see in this 360 tour is the newly-opened Dorothy Garrod Building. It has en-suite bedrooms, some with balconies, with great shared kitchen social spaces. There’s a glass-walled gym on the roof, a rooftop garden for hanging out, and the famous Iris Café


We’re a women’s college

Hi guys. Yes, women study at Cambridge too.

We’re a women’s college, which means we’re led by women, for women. Maybe that shouldn’t matter in 2021, but it does. Students Charlotte Zemmel and Jasmine Charles wrote about why.

If you come here, you’ll see women hold the most senior roles, and learn from them how to make change in the world. We have famous alumnae like Emma Thompson, Claire Balding, Diane Abbott MP, Rupa Huq MP, Rosalind Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin and many more.

Your teaching and social life will be with women and men from across the University, and you’ll come home to a College that supports women 100 per cent.

If you want to check whether you’re eligible to apply to Newnham and would be supported here, please see our FAQs.

“Studying at a womens’ college has meant that I do not have to undergo these gender calculations at every supervision or DoS meeting, and as I reflect on my first two years of Cambridge life, I am astonished by my personal confidence growth.” (Charlotte Zemmel, Varsity)


Being here is empowering



In this video, recorded last year, Zainab talks you through the Cambridge application process: “I’ve always found Newnham very empowering. You have this idea of a stereotypical Cambridge student and I thought I couldn’t be further from that.”


But what’s it really like?

Wearing PJs around college? Oh yes.

You can check out the Newnham student atmosphere on Instagram (@Newnham_jcr, @NewnhamWelfare) – these are student-run pages, so totally authentic.

You can also follow the official College Instagram account on @NewnhamCollege.

You can see the amazing art and gardens (@NewnhamCollegeGardens, @NewnhamCollegeArt), you can find out more about the teaching resources (@NewnhamCollegeLibrary), the music (@RaleighSociety) and the food (@the_Iris_Café).




Virtual open days and online events

(Nelly is the cat. NCBC is the Boat Club. A formal is a formal hall dinner. The Iris is the cafe, where the new pool table is. The buttery is the cafeteria.)

Take a look at our page on the University of Cambridge Virtual Tour! You’ll find photos, videos and articles about life at Newnham, as well as helpful links to further information.


Now for the official bits about applications in 2021…

Will Newnham and the University recognise that my education has been disrupted by coronavirus?

We appreciate that your home life and your education will have been disrupted by coronavirus. You may be worrying about how this will affect your Cambridge application, as well as much more. Remember that you’re not alone, and that many other Cambridge applicants all over the world have had their education disrupted too.

The University will be taking this into account in its admissions process – find out more.

It’s sensible to keep a record of disruptions to your education, as suggested on the University page. If you record this as you go along, you’ll have it if you need it.

How will 2021 applications be different due to coronavirus?

Newnham and all the Colleges will always follow the latest public health advice, and we can’t predict exactly what guidelines will be over the next year.

We are all working hard to plan the next academic year and the Cambridge admissions process. Some things will be different – as in all areas of our life at present – but providing a really good student experience is a priority.

Open days and events will take place online during summer 2021

We are now able to offer tours of Newnham at the end of August!  Book your spot before spaces run out!

We will do our best to make sure that you have the information you need about Newnham, the University, its courses, and the admissions process. Key information is here:


How can I prepare to apply in 2021?

Do what you can, with the time, energy and resources available to you. This can be a time to develop some of the independent study-skills that you’ll need at University. It can also be a time to work on how you balance work, relaxation and physical and mental health – another important skill.

Take a look at the HE Plus website. This contains free online study resources developed by Cambridge academics. Especially if your school or college can give you limited support at the moment, these resources will help.

This list is a list of suggestions for ways to explore your subject before applying to Cambridge.

You should also look at the subjects that interest you on our website, and look to see if there are any related subjects that you hadn’t first thought of. For example, if you’re thinking of studying English Literature, you might also be interested in Anglo Saxon, Norse and Celtic; if you’re thinking of studying History, you might be interested in studying History of Art.

Is Cambridge University moving its teaching online?

Some media sources said that Cambridge was putting all teaching online in 2020-21. This is not true, and was a misunderstanding about how teaching at Cambridge works.

Cambridge teaching takes place through a mixture of small-group teaching, supervisions (one to three students studying with one academic), practical classes (e.g lab work) and lectures (large numbers of students with one academic). Lectures are an important part of learning, but they are only one part of it. Social distancing means that the University will replace large group face-to-face lectures with online lectures for the 2020-21 academic year. Small group teaching is what makes Cambridge particularly special, and we expect the small group forms of teaching to continue in person, taking into account health and social distancing requirements at the time.

Read a statement by the heads of all the Cambridge Colleges about teaching in the academic year 2020/21. This was first published in The Times newspaper, 22 May 2020.