Everything you need to know – even when it’s difficult to visit!
We would love to say hello, show you around, and introduce you to our students, staff, and Senior Members. Ours is a wonderful and welcoming community – this page is designed to give you a flavour of it including a video introducing you to the College and our people, culture and community.
History and culture
The oldest graduate college, Hughes Hall was established in 1885, but we wear our history lightly. We are known today as a progressive College, bridging the academic and external worlds with an informal atmosphere. Coming to Hughes Hall today means joining world-class academics, making lifelong friends, and becoming part of a global network, all supporting one another to make a difference around the world.
A distinctive aspect of life at Hughes is our friendly and inclusive culture; and everyone is allowed to walk – or relax – on the grass!
We are one of only three Cambridge colleges for mature students, so everyone here is at least 21. We admit the most postgraduates in Cambridge and have around 200 undergraduates at any one time. And we are proudly multinational, with students from more than 80 countries. Everyone at Hughes has arrived by a different route, with a different background, and brings different experiences, strengths and stories to their studies. That’s what makes life here so varied and fulfilling.
The gates to our Gresham Court accommodation were sculpted by a well-known architectural blacksmith – the 117 marigolds represent all the different countries that our students have come from. We are very proud of our diversity.
In their own words
You can find out more and hopefully be inspired by some of our students who wanted share their own journeys to Cambridge, their research, why they chose Hughes Hall, and their experiences of the College: Meet our students.
Hughes Hall is an oasis of calm and tranquillity right in the heart of Cambridge providing a relaxing and stimulating environment for your studies and research. Our College buildings run alongside the University’s Cricket Ground and around the corner is lively Mill Road, known for its cafes, restaurants, bars, vintage clothes, and international supermarkets. We are halfway between the railway station and market square, a 10-minute bike ride from most university departments, and 5 minutes from punting on the river Cam, and Midsummer Common’s famous cows.
You can find out more on our location and accommodation pages. This links to a University platform that enables you to find the Colleges on a map, as well as other city and University landmarks: www.virtualtour.study.cam.ac.uk.
We have some of the best accommodation at Cambridge, and offer both traditional and modern College rooms with kitchen facilities, and one of the highest number of en-suites. Plus, there are roof terraces, couples flats, city houses, accessible rooms, and some fabulous views across the cricket field. We prioritise our first-year students and those taking longer courses for College accommodation, although you’re welcome to find your own rooms if you prefer. Find out more about College rooms and flats on the accommodation page.
Our college library, the Edwin Leong Library, is a beautifully light and airy space overlooking the lawns. Open 24/7, it has 60 study spaces on two floors, and step-free access. We have 9,000 books, computing and copying facilities, and two experienced librarians to help you find and use information resources for your studies, and develop your research skills.
Everyone in our community can eat together in a grand modern dining hall, its tall windows overlooking the cricket field. Our food is considered some of the best at the University, with a range of hot meals, grab-and-go options and a great salad bar.
Two or three nights a week, we hold traditional Formal Halls. Some are themed to mark special occasions like Chinese New Year, LGBTQ month, or Thanksgiving. Unlike other Colleges, we don’t have a High Table reserved for Fellows. Our students, seniors, staff and guests all eat together so it’s a good opportunity to chat to everyone in our community.
Events and entertainment
You’ll be invited to lots of events around your subject area, both inside and outside College including supervisions, dinners, research showcase evenings, seminars, career events, panel discussions, and large symposia and receptions, organised by both students and Fellows. Hughes Hall also has many sports clubs, societies, and social events; plus College gym facilities, a Steinway piano, and a varied music programme.
We have a particularly strong tradition in rowing and rugby, with representatives in the Boat Race and Varsity matches, although most of our students join clubs for fun, fitness and friendship.
Alongside your departmental work, your week might include a badminton match, a fireside chat on banking, Halloween Formal Hall, rowing for the first time, and a lively night in the College bar. Or just a walk around the College gardens and a good book – what you take from Hughes Hall is up to you! But you cannot miss the May Ball!
It is important to us that you can excel in your studies as well as broadening your horizons. And that you can do this with a smile, whilst feeling comfortable, secure, well supported, and surrounded by people who want you to thrive. At Hughes Hall, we place a great deal of value on our welfare provision if you’d like to explore our detailed welfare pages, and have a tutorial team dedicated to your wellbeing, as well as a College nurse and counsellor. We are always here to help you navigate the peculiarities of the Cambridge system.
Our dedicated Student Centre provides a lot more information for our students on all academic, practical and welfare issues from examinations and IT to how to book a slot with the nurse and what’s on the menu today.
Our student body, the MCR, provides a great deal of support to new students. You can find out more on their website and get in touch with their committee for specific support. They publish a regular ‘Hughesletter‘ to keep students up to date and have also produced a new Student Handbook for 2021 with videos, tours and introductions to the college and many of its members.
Make a difference
Our students tell us we are the friendliest college in Cambridge, but Hughes Hall is unique for lots of reasons. Many of our seniors come from the wider world, bringing experience in business, policymaking, and philanthropy to college life. We combine this with the expertise of our researchers through our Bridge initiative and have launched exciting research centres – in education technologies, climate change, oracy, and digital innovation – all providing a platform for you to make a mark, make connections and make a difference.
We have a range of scholarships, bursaries and awards to help you thrive with us and support you in having an impact around the world. For example, This publication is a great example of the translational and impact-orientated nature of our work, as members of our academic community explain how they have been helping to tackle the pandemic.
- Our News and Events give you a flavour of what goes on at College
- Our Watch Again page provides access to some of our (online) academic lectures, seminars and discussions that have taken place over the last year or so, including the Seniors’ Spotlight Series.
- Our College magazines give a great insight into our work and people: Hughes magazines
- There is lots more information if you’re thinking of applying for undergraduate study, including how to apply; and further details of postgraduate study too
- This video is a useful guide to the three mature colleges at Cambridge: Mature Colleges at the University of Cambridge – Hughes Hall, Wolfson and St Edmund’s
- Plus central University information for undergraduates, postgraduates and for international students (undergraduates and postgraduates)