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Sports, societies, and more

Life outside the library and the laboratory

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. But life outside lectures is important too! Hughes Hall has many sports clubs, societies, and social events; plus College gym equipment, 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.

So, 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!

We have many different clubs and societies, mostly run by students, where you can meet new people, develop your interests or discover new ones. If you prefer something cerebral, we have clubs devoted to chess, photography, music, film, music, wine, law and enterprise. Some overlap with College subject areas, and others reflect cultural interests and events. However, every club is open to everyone, no matter what they’re studying. You can find more information about our societies and sports teams on the MCR website. We have a great range of sports societies and 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.

Hughes Hall Boat Club

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.

Everyone is encouraged to try rowing or coxing at Cambridge. Most of our College rowers (90%!) had never been in an ‘eight’ before their arrival. Hughes Hall Boat Club (HHBC) has a history of consistently impressing on several fronts, making every stroke count towards its phenomenally fantastic results. It has risen rapidly through the Cambridge College rowing ranks since its inception in 1989 to become one of the most successful clubs on the river, frequently winning the prestigious accolade of Blades in the annual Lent and May Bumps.

We are a large and active club and welcome members of all levels. Our new members quickly progress during Michaelmas term with novice regattas taking place in November, followed by training and racing in Lent and May Bumps, the biggest events in the Cambridge calendar. We are looking for both rowers and coxswains of all levels to join us for the coming year.

We row from Emmanuel Boathouse and land training (ergs) takes place in the Garden Room facility at Hughes. Training sessions vary between the different crews.

For more information about the club please visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HughesHallBoatClub/ or email boatclub@hughes.cam.ac.uk.

College Gym and fitness equipment

The College, MCR and Boat Club are currently working together to create an improved gym space in the Suzanne Ziegler Garden Room for all College members to use. It is planned that the Gym will be available free of charge starting from Easter term 2023. Aside from certain reserved hours, this will be open to current Hughes students between 7.00am and 11.00pm. Other external facilities are available next to the college at the main city sports centre, Kelsey Kerridge, used by our badminton and climbing teams. The athletics, football, netball, and other clubs use nearby facilities around the city.

Hughes Hall MCR

Our student body, the Middle Combination Room (MCR) is the focal point for all our students who automatically become members when they matriculate. The MCR organise a wide range of social events for the students, and have their own – recently refurbished – multi-purpose room in College. The room serves as a place to relax with friends over coffee, has a well-stocked bar, and is the location for bops, quizzes, bands and watching sporting events. The MCR have their own website, keeping you up to date on their activities: Hughes Hall MCR


As well as a busy social events diary, we run a number of academic events during the academic year. As part of this, we host five major formal gatherings every year, where distinguished figures from the College and the wider world are invited to speak on their areas of expertise:

  • The City Lecture, now in its 16th year, features leading speakers from the worldwide business community.
  • The Zimmern Medical Lecture and Dinner, held since 2009, celebrates our medical community and brings the academic and working medical worlds of Cambridge together.
  • The Charnley Law Dinner celebrates and promotes law study at Hughes Hall, and has featured distinguished speakers from the field since 2010.
  • The Kathleen Hughes Hall Memorial Lectures have been running for 15 years, and are given in association with the University’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic studies.
  • The Richard Berg Rust Lectures are held in memory of our former Development Director, to remember his huge contribution to the College and his love for the literature, culture and music of his native North of England, especially Northumberland and County Durham.

Our unique Bridge Initiative runs its own lectures, seminars and events focusing on research translation and helping to prepare our students for life beyond the College gates, by inviting the great and the good from the worlds of policy, business, research and philanthropy to talk about their careers, and help our students build connections. Our research centres include Cambridge Oracy, the Digital Education Futures Institute, the Cambridge Centre for Digital Innovation and the Centre for Climate Engagement. We also have partnerships with initiatives including the Cambridge-Africa Programme, Cambridge Governance Labs, Hughes Hall Enterprise Society, Life Sciences & Society Seminars and Three Minute Thesis.