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Cambridge University Oxford University

Cambridge University is the second oldest - after Oxford - in Britain. The university has 31 colleges (see the list of colleges). In 2009 the university celebrated its 800 year anniversary.

The colleges
The origins of Cambridge University date back to the arrival of former students of Oxford University in 1209 but it wasn't until 1284 that the first college - Peterhouse - was founded. By the end of the 16th century another fifteen colleges had been established and then - in the 19th and 20th centuries - fifteen more.

As with Oxford, Cambridge University - especially its older established colleges - has seen many of its students go on to achieve notable things.

No degree
But a successful completion of their studies was not always necessary for former students to achieve success in life. The Poet Laureates Thomas Shadwell
and Alfred Tennyson, the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Siegfried Sassoon and the writers William Makepeace Thackeray and Christopher Isherwood all left Cambridge without a degree. A degree also eluded Edward VII, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Britain's first Prime Minister Robert Walpole and the chemist Henry Cavendish (whose descendants endowed the university's world-famous Cavendish Laboratory).

It wasn't until
Girton College (1869) and Newnham College (1871) opened that women were finally admitted to Cambridge. Since then graduates have included the first British woman to win a Nobel Prize, Dorothy Hodgkin; the poet Sylvia Plath, the ethologist Jane Goodall and the writer Iris Murdoch.

The following list shows the thirty-one colleges, grouped by the century in which they were founded.

The colleges founded before the 18th century include information on a selection of famous people who have been connected to the college and links to the college website and its history webpage.

The colleges founded since 1800 have links to their websites.

The 31 Cambridge Colleges


13th century


Founded: 1284

14th century


Clare College
Founded: 1326

Pembroke College
Founded: 1347

Gonville & Caius College
Founded: 1348

Trinity Hall
Founded: 1350

Corpus Christi College
Founded: 1352

15th century


Magdalene College
Founded: 1428

King's College
Founded: 1441

Queens' College
Founded: 1448

St Catharine's College
Founded: 1473

Jesus College
Founded: 1496

16th century


Christ's College
Founded: 1505

St John's College
Founded: 1511

Trinity College
Founded: 1546

Emmanuel College
Founded: 1584

Sidney Sussex College
Founded: 1596

19th century

Downing College
Founded: 1800

Girton College
Founded: 1869

Fitzwilliam College
Founded: 1869

Newnham College
Founded: 1871

Selwyn College
Founded: 1882

Hughes Hall
Founded: 1885

St Edmund's College
Founded: 1896

20th century

Murray Edwards College
Founded (as New Hall): 1954

Churchill College
Founded: 1960

Darwin College
Founded: 1964

Lucy Cavendish College
Founded: 1965

Clare Hall
Founded: 1965

Wolfson College
Founded: 1965

Homerton College
Founded: 1976

Robinson College
Founded: 1979

14th century
Clare College A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Second only in age to Peterhouse, Clare College was founded as the House of the University of Cambridge in 1326. It took its present name a few years later after receiving an endowment from Lady Elizabeth de Clare, a granddaughter of
Edward I.


Famous People

Hugh Latimer Bishop of Worcester. Oxford Martyr
Fellow, 1510-55

Nobel Prize Winners

R. Timothy Hunt Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 2001
Undergraduate, 1961-64

Prime Ministers

Duke of Newcastle
Prime Minister of Britain, 1754-56 and 1757-62
Undergraduate, 1710- No degree

Writers and Poets

William Whitehead Poet laureate, 1757-85
Undergraduate Fellow, 1740-

Siegfried Sassoon Poet
Undergraduate, 1905-07 No degree

Pembroke College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Pembroke College was founded in 1347 by Mary de St Pol, the wife of the Earl of Pembroke.


Prime Ministers

William Pitt, the Younger
Prime Minister of Britain, 1783-1801 and 1804-06
Undergraduate, 1773-76 MA
Pitt continued to live at his rooms in the college until 1780

Writers and Poets

Edmund Spenser
Undergraduate, 1569-72 MA, 1576

Thomas Gray Poet
Fellow, 1756-71
Regius Professor of Modern History, 1768-71
Gray lived at the college from 1756. He died in his rooms there in 1771

Ted Hughes Poet laureate, 1984-98
Undergraduate, 1951-54

Gonville & Caius College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Gonville & Caius College was founded as Gonville Hall in 1348 by a Norfolk clergyman, Edward Gonville.

The college was given its present name after it was refounded and expanded in 1557 by a former student John Caius.


Inventors and Scientists

William Harvey Physician. Discoverer of the circulation of blood
Undergraduate, 1593-1597
See Merton College, Oxford

Stephen Hawking Theoretical physicist
Fellow, 1965-69
Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, 1979-2009

Nobel Prize Winners

Charles Sherrington Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1932
Undergraduate, 1880-83 Fellow, 1887-93
See Magdalen College, Oxford

James Chadwick Nobel Prize for Physics, 1935
Fellow, 1921-35, 1959-74 Master, 1948-58

Howard Florey Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1945
Fellow 1926-
See Lincoln College, Oxford

Francis H.C. Crick Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1962

Antony Hewish Nobel Prize for Physics, 1974
Undergraduate, 1942-43, 1946-48

Nevill F. Mott Nobel Prize for Physics, 1977
Fellow, 1930-33 Master, 1959-66
Cavendish Professor of Physics, 1954-71

Richard Stone Nobel Prize for Economics, 1984
Undergraduate, 1931-35
See King's College

John R. Hicks Nobel Prize for Economics, 1972
Fellow, 1935-38
See All Souls College, Oxford

Josef E. Stiglitz Nobel Prize for Economics, 2001
Fellow, 1966-70
See All Souls College, Oxford

Michael Levitt Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 2013
Fellow, 1970-74

Roger Tsien Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 2008
Fellow, 1977-81

Writers and Poets

Thomas Shadwell Poet laureate, 1689-92
Undergraduate, 1656-58 No degree

Trinity Hall

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Trinity Hall was founded in 1350 by William Bateman, the Bishop of Norwich.

From its beginnings the college concentrated on educating clergymen and lawyers, reacting to a shortage in these professions caused by
the Black Death which had ravaged the country in 1349.

To this day the college has kept this tradition in the study of law.


Famous People

Donald Maclean Cambridge spy
Undergraduate, 1931-34

Marshall McLuhan Social/Communication theorist
Undergraduate, 1934-36

Rachel Weisz Actor
Undergraduate, 1988-91

Inventors and Scientists

Stephen Hawking Theoretical physicist
Graduate, 1962-66
See Gonville & Caius

Writers and Poets

Samuel Pepys Writer
Undergraduate, 1650
In 1650, shortly after starting his studies, Pepys transferred to Magdalene College

J.B. Priestley Writer
Undergraduate, 1919-21

Corpus Christi College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Founded in 1352 Corpus Christi College was set up by two local guilds: the Guild of Corpus Christi and the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As with other colleges at the time it concentrated on training priests to replace those who had died during
the Black Death.


Writers and Poets

Christopher Marlowe Playwright
Undergraduate, 1581-84 MA, 1587

John Cowper Powys Writer
Undergraduate, 1891-94

Christopher Isherwood Writer
Undergraduate, 1924-25 No degree

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