Study at Peterhouse
Each subject has a department which organises all the lectures, classes, practicals and exams/assessments. Students from all colleges attend these together. Hence your college choice only has a very minor effect on your experience studying at Cambridge- this page gives a general overview but check the subject pages (on the left) for more information.
Firstly it’s worth checking how far away your college is from your department. Peterhouse is pretty central- nothing is more than a 10 minute bike ride away. It is one of the closest colleges to the Engineering and Architecture departments, as well many of the Natural Science and Medicine facilities. These subjects have a lot of contact time - it is great to be able to nip back to your room for something to eat or a quick nap between lectures!
Secondly, your college organises all your supervisions. During a supervision a small group of students (usually 1-4) spend an hour with a supervisor- an academic who is skilled in your subject. During this time you may discuss essays or problem sheets which you’ve handed in previously or go over the most recent lectures. The personalised help you get through supervisions is really what makes studying at Cambridge so outstanding, something I didn’t really appreciate till I got here. It’s difficult to pick a college based on supervisors as all are generally good; if one college doesn’t have anyone suitable they’ll just get someone from elsewhere. However supervisors can have different styles (and set different amounts of work!); check the subject pages for more Peterhouse specific information.
Thirdly, your college provides a library. The Peterhouse Ward library is impressive, one of the best in Cambridge. It rivals most department libraries in terms of size and has >60,000 books plus a huge range of current academic journals. If they don’t have the book you’re looking for, the friendly librarians will usually buy it in for you within a week. You can take out up to five books for two weeks at a time (and renew them after this) and then ten books over the holidays. Hence you never have to buy a textbook. However if you do want your own copies, Peterhouse will reimburse you 50%. The library is open from 9am-midnight everyday and is an excellent working environment. It is bright and quiet with comfy chairs and WiFi and laptop plug-points throughout. There are also 6 PCs, a printer and a scanner- with additional macs, PCs and printing facilities in the nearby computer room. The only disadvantage is that you’re not allowed to eat and drink in the library - according to the signs this could ‘irrevocably damage the mahogany and cherry wood desks’..! Still, there’s a water fountain just outside and you’ll be 2 minutes from hall and less than 5 minutes from your room - so it’s not really a problem! The nearby JCR (junior common room) and computer room are also good for chattier group revision.
Finally, the people studying your subject in your college will become your close friends, and your first stop for help. Being a small college the community is particularly close knit across all year groups. On the flip side, there are probably fewer subject based dinners and talks than in some larger colleges- although they do still happen! Additionally if you are doing a subject with only a small intake across Cambridge, it is possible you will be the only one at Peterhouse.