With only ~75 undergraduates per year Peterhouse feels like a big, friendly family, with everyone looking out for eachother. We have a whole college student facebook group (an approximately 1:1 ratio of banter and helpful information) and a freecycle page to facilitate the exchange of everything from bike pumps to fake swords and women’s wigs (sometimes it’s best not to ask!) The college staff are also amazing, after a few days many will know you by name and ask you how your day has been.
People understandably worry that being the smallest college it can get a bit claustrophobic; but I haven’t found this to be the case. Firstly we have large grounds - the exceedingly pretty Deer Park* is an excellent place to have a picnic, kick around a football or revise in the sun. And you‘ll get to know as many people as you would in larger colleges- just from a wider range of year groups and subjects. It’s often fun to hear about other people’s subjects, as well as receive their pearls of wisdom on your own (not sure how I would have passed anatomy without an engineering friend telling me to ‘just remember that the head is found above the body’ ...).
Being the oldest college comes with many advantages. Peterhouse has magnificent, atmospheric buildings- our 13th century hall is the oldest secular building still used for its original purpose and was the second building in Britain to get electric lights, after Buckingham Palace (facts that always impress visiting relatives!). The college has amassed a great deal of money over the years (it is now the fourth richest) which means incredibly generous grants for books, sports/music equipment and travel!
Unfortunately Peterhouse has also amassed several stereotypes- being overly traditional, masculine, right wing etc. Don’t worry- like most college stereotypes, these are now completely untrue. Peterhouse students are as diverse and and (mostly) normal as anywhere else! The college itself is also becoming much more progressive, notably electing its first female master- the BBC journalist Bridget Kendall- in 2016. Of course some traditions remain- the double latin grace before formal dinners, dressing up fancily for society talks, the canteen thinking it’s normal to serve students things like ‘ Almond and porcini bake with veggie chipolata’ and ‘Truffle macaroni cheese’. But as long as you don’t take it too seriously it’s definitely more endearing than it’s restrictive!
Click the links on the left to find out about accommodation, food and drink, welfare and entertainment at Peterhouse. You can also find information specific to students with disabilities, international students and LGBT+ students.
‘ If you like to travel, apply to Peterhouse. The college has a disproportionate number of funds and trusts that have been set up specifically to finance student travel - not just for study, but also to learn languages, or even just for a course-related holiday. Last summer I travelled with a group of ten friends to Istanbul, and many of us received travel grants to cover the cost of our flights. This is something really specific to Peterhouse - there are only one or two other colleges with comparatively generous grant schemes, and Peterhouse’s grants are definitely envied across the rest of the university!’
‘The support of the college in all aspects of life beyond just studying is excellent; the college gave me a sports grant of £150 towards the cost of a bow when it looked like I might have to give up archery through unavailability of equipment.’