The Cambridge Advantage: Work hard, play hard
There's a great social scene here and most students describe their life in Cambridge as 'work hard, play hard' – it's always amazing how much they fit in alongside their studies!
There are hundreds of clubs and societies to get involved in, and throughout term-time there's a whole range of student-organised entertainment events (or 'ents') on offer as well. Among the highlights are the legendary College May Balls, held during May week (which is actually about two weeks in June, after exams). In addition, there's plenty going on in and around the city throughout the year.
- 700+ student clubs and societies to choose from
- top 5 for good community atmosphere (Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013)
- 50+ sports available, with opportunities to get involved at any level
University is about trying things you've never had the chance to do before (and might never get the chance to do again). At Cambridge, you can do almost anything at almost any level, from 'having a go' to semi-professional, and your extra-curricular activities may even provide a springboard for subsequent careers.
Cambridge has a vibrant political scene and around 50 political clubs and societies with a range of affiliations which allow students to debate local, national and international political issues.
You could also get involved in CUSU or your College students' union, or go along to the Union Society's debates, where notable figures from the media and politics (such as Ken Livingstone, Rupert Everett, Russell Brand and Dara O Briain) regularly speak alongside the student members.
Other politics societies include:
- Education Activist Network
- Fabian Society
- Wilberforce Society
Cambridge students are very active in numerous community projects, campaigns and charity work, both locally and worldwide.
Considerable energy goes into planning and running various University-wide and College-based RAG events, which raise more than £160,000 annually for local, national and international charities in all manner of ways, such as Jailbreak, when sponsored students have to get as far away from Cambridge as possible without spending anything. Former jailbreakers have reached Australia, New York, Hong Kong, Sweden, Singapore, Los Angeles, Finland, Dubai and Morocco.
Other community and charity groups include:
- Amnesty International
- Cambridge Hub
If you'd like to try your hand at journalism, there are three regular term-time student newspapers (Varsity, The Cambridge Student and, online, The Tab) and a variety of other publications that you can get involved in. The University also has a number of prizes for original student writing.
In addition, there are groups for those interested in film-making and photography, such as CU-TV; and the University's award-winning radio station, Cam FM, is always keen for new members. Professionally managed and presented and engineered by University members, training is also offered in many aspects of radio, so there are plenty of opportunities to have a go at presenting a show or support the running of the station.
Other media societies include:
- Weevil Magazine
- Photographic Society
Cambridge is renowned for the amount and quality of its student-produced drama. Most well-known is the Cambridge Footlights comedy group, where many now-famous comedians and actors started their careers. Based in the ADC Theatre, the Footlights stages fortnightly 'Smokers' (informal evenings of original sketches and stand-up), as well as putting on four main shows, and performs at the Edinburgh Fringe each year.
However, Cambridge Footlights is just one of around 30 drama groups in total.
Auditions are often open to all and there are also opportunities to have a go at directing, producing, set design, lighting, sound, stage management, costume, make-up and front of house if you prefer not to be on satge.
To support all this drama, there are excellent facilities. In addition to the ADC Theatre, a number of Colleges have their own purpose-built auditoria and several major productions take place in the city's Corn Exchange and Arts Theatre. During May Week, College gardens also become theatres for open-air summer productions.
Other drama societies include:
- European Theatre Group
- Cambridge Impronauts
- Gilbert and Sullivan Society
There's a great deal of music-making at the University and all sorts of music can be heard in College common rooms, the University Concert Hall, and venues in the city itself.
There's an enormous range of musical societies and student bands catering for any style and level of experience – though you have to audition or have minimum standards for some, others are open to all students regardless of ability. Whether you want to sing, play an instrument or be the Musical Director for a student production, there'll be something to suit you.
Many Colleges run acoustic and open mic nights, and numerous bands, choirs and orchestras regularly record and tour nationally and internationally. The Faculty of Music also offers masterclasses and workshops, and supports a great array of musical activities too, such as student-organised concerts.
If you're an organist, singer/chorister or play an instrument to a very high standard, you may like to consider applying for one of our Music Awards. For more information about Organ Scholarships, Choral Awards and Instrumental Awards, see the Music Awards webpages.
Music groups include:
- Show Choir
- Chinese Orchestra Society
- Rock Society
Currently, there are more than 700 clubs, societies and groups to choose from, and the number keeps growing! As well as those already mentioned above, there are societies relating to:
- the environment
- food and drink
- games and hobbies
- science and technology
- academic subjects
See the Societies Directory on the CUSU website for the full range.
If there isn't a group or society for your particular passion or interest at the moment, you could start one yourself – all you have to do is find a few like-minded people.