College Life


CUSU Academic Support

JCR Academic Support
If you have any issues that you would rather not go directly to see your Tutor or DoS about, get in touch with your friendly neighbourhood JCR Academic Affairs Officer. Send an email to George at
This is perfect if you would like some impartial, anonymous (if you don’t use your cam email address) advice about anything related to your studies. If George can’t deal with the issue and it’s ok with you, he’ll pass your information on to someone who can.

Tutorial Times

The Tutors are normally available to see their students in College at the times below during Full Term. They can be seen at other times by appointment and such appointments should be made via email. In an emergency contact the Tutorial and Admissions Office (or the Porters Lodge out of office hours). If there is a particular problem about which you prefer to consult another Tutor rather than your own you are welcome to do so at one of the advertised times for that Tutor.

Tutorial and Admissions Office Opening hours: 10:30-12:30 and 13:30-17:00 Monday - Friday (closes early at 16:00 on Friday)

Dr Guy Williams Senior Tutor Tutorial & Admissions Office 01223 334811 Friday 1.30 - 2.00 (Contact by email at any time)
Dr Andy Holding Undergraduate Tutor U6 tbc Contact by email at any time
Prof John McCombie Undergraduate Tutor T8 01223 334830 Contact by email at any time
Dr Natalia Mora-Sitja Undergraduate Tutor G3 01223 334837 Contact by email at any time
Dr Harriet Groom Undergraduate Tutor O7 01223 336860 Contact by email at any time
Dr Marcus Tomlain Undergraduate Tutor O4 01223 334816 Contact by email at any time
Dr Kamran Yunus Undergraduate Tutor T1 01223 762809 Contact by email at any time
Dr Ewan Jones Graduate Tutor O2 01223 334887 Contact by email at any time
Dr Jay Stock Graduate Tutor P8 01223 762085 Contact by email at any time


The Maitland Robinson Library was designed by the architect Quinlan Terry and opened in 1993. The Library is available for use by all current students at the College. Members of other Colleges and visitors may not use its facilities unless they have obtained permission through the Fellow Librarian.

The Library receives various periodicals via the SCR, including The Economist, New Scientist, New Statesman, Spectator and others. These can be found on the reverse of the new books display, near the self-issue terminal - back issues can be found by lifting the display shelves.

New book stacks have been introduced in the basement. The new racking is easy to use by rotating the handles to move the shelves. The OPAC terminals, formerly near to the staff office, have moved. One is now on the Punch trolley, near the self-issue machine; the other is now in the back corner of the ground floor, near the Engineering section.

The Library catalogue

The Library catalogue can be accessed via the OPACS in the Library and it is also available online (a Raven password is required). When searching the catalogue use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to increase search results and for greater precision. Books can be renewed and reserved through the online library catalogue. The reader code required for login is the five letters shown on the back of your University card (for example, ABC12) below the bar code.

A vast range of online resources are also available via eresources@cambridge (a Raven password may be required for access).

Computer Facilities

There are MCS computers on the ground and first floors. In addition readers can bring in personal laptops; sockets are available in the floor throughout the Library and the Library is a wireless environment with Eduroam and UniOfCam access.

An MFD is located in the basement corridor with which readers can print, photocopy and scan. Instructions are available here or at the Library front desk.

Borrowing and Renewals

The borrowing limit is 20 books; to borrow in excess of that please go to the issue desk during staffed hours. During full term the loan period is two weeks. Books can also be borrowed over the vacations and are then due at the start of the following full term. 

Books can be renewed online through the Library catalogue until they become overdue. Once the due date is passed there is a three-day grace period before fines begin to accrue; please contact library staff, by email or in person, to request a renewal of overdue books. This can also be done by replying to overdue notification emails. However, renewals are not possible from full term into the vacation loan period; please ensure books are returned before holiday borrowing starts (usually the last Thursday of full term). It isn't necessary to bring books into the Library to have them renewed.

If you want to borrow a book whose status is listed as 'cataloguing', please contact staff who will be able to rapidly process it for you. 

Opening times

Michaelmas and Lent Full Term

Staffed Hours: 9:30am - 5:30pm weekdays only
Card Access: 8.30am - 2.00am

Easter Full Term

Staffed Hours: 9:30am - 5:30pm weekdays only
Card Access: 8.00am - 2.30am

Weekends during full term will be staffed by student library supervisors from 11:30am-5:30pm. Certain services — such as access to locked cabinet books — are only available during staffed hours.

If the library is locked at a time when it should be accessible by card the porters will be able to let you in.

Outside Full Term, access to the library can be gained by card from 8.30am until 11.30pm, including use of self-issue and self-return facilities. When outside of full term the library continues to be staffed for the most part between 9.30am — 5.30pm, albeit more variably.


College Punt Scheme

Downing College is signed up to Scudamore’s Student Punt & Boat Hire Scheme which means any member of the JCR or MCR is entitled to year-round punting at discounted rates.  Click here to find out more. 

College Bar

Fed up with study?  Need a break in the evening?  Time to hit the bar!  The College Bar is located behind the library inside the Butterfield Building and is open at 8pm - 11.30pm (Sunday - Friday) and 8pm - 12am (Saturdays). Downing is proud to have one of the few student-run bars in Cambridge.  The bar is a non-profitmaking organisation, ensuring that your drinks are as cheap as possible.  With a specially extended licence in Michaelmas and Lent terms, going to the bar is a great way to spend the evening with friends.

TV Room

The JCR TV Rooms are a great place to go and relax with your friends. You can watch all the terrestrial channels, DVDs or even plug in your games consoles. The TV Room usually gets very busy during big sporting events so be sure to get there early! You can find the TV Rooms located on S Staircase .  There is also a television in the College Bar.

Music Facilities

There are several places in college where you can practice your music without fear of upsetting anybody else.
To find out more about the music societies in Downing, visit the societies page

  • The Music Room in the West Lodge (E staircase) can be booked for practice and events through the conference office.
  • There is a seperate practice room (V4) that can be booked via the Porter's Lodge.
  • The piano in the chapel can also be booked for practice at certain times of the day- Just sign up on the list in the chapel!

Performances often take place in the Music Room, the Master's Lodge, the Maitland Room (West Lodge), the Chapel and the Howard Building.


The Lt. Col. Anderson Fitness Room (as it is formally known) is equipped with a range of cardiovascular and individual resistance equipment and is located behind the Howard Theatre. There are toilets and showers on site. There is also a drinking water supply. It is open to all members of the college at a cost of £22 membership per year.

Before you first access the facilities, there is a mandatory induction session that you must attend. To book your place on the next one, email Helin Machin in the HR Office ( At present the induction session costs £12 per person.

When using the facilities, be aware of other users. At peak times please refrain from using a machine for more than twenty minutes. Typically busy periods are lunchtimes and early evening. Please take a towel and wipe sweat off equipment after use.

Key fobs to open the door are signed out from the Porters' lodge. They must be returned as soon as possible after use, and in any case within 24 hours. There are stiff penalties for retention.

Sports Facilities

We have netball and tennis courts on site, and these can be booked out via the booking form in the Porters Lodge. There is also a basketball hoop on these courts.The sports pitches are located on Grantchester Road. Here there are football and rugby pitches. 

View Downing College Sports Ground in a larger map


Computer Room

The Computer Room is located behind T staircase and is open 24 hours a day - perfect for those last-minute essay writing sessions. You need a code to get in which you can get from the Porters' Lodge (or just knock and someone will probably let you in).

The room contains 18 PCs, 1 Mac, printers (printing is 2p a sheet) and a scanner. All of the computers are connected to the Cambridge network and offer internet access, e-mail facilities and access to the Public Workstation Facility (PWF). The PWF allows you to use various software packages in these categories:

  • Communications and Networking
  • Databases
  • E-mail clients
  • Graphics and Presentation
  • Programming Languages
  • Spreadsheets and Statistics
  • Teaching Packages
  • Utilities and Accessories
  • Word and Text Processing

Useful Times


College Gates:

  • Nurse's Clinic (O5)
    Monday: 1-3pm
    Tuesday: 5-7pm
    Wednesday: 1-3pm
    Thursday: 5-7pm
    Friday: 1-3pm
    Appointments can be made outside these 
    hours via email
    Outside NPR: 12pm-1pm (Mon-Fri)
  • Main Gate
    Closed: 11pm-6am (Card access)
  • Chapel Gate/Downing Site
    Locked: 4pm-10.30am (Card access between 6am-10pm)
  • Lensfield Road Gate
    Always shut (Card access)
  • Kitchen Yard Gate
    Always shut (Coded)


  • Tutorial & Admissions Office 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-5.00pm (Mon-Fri), closes early at 4.00pm on Friday
  • Bursary Office 10.30am-12.30pm, 1.30pm-4.30pm (Mon-Fri)


Click here to see live energy and gas consumption for the current day, the past month, and the past year. If you're interested in other environmental issues visit the Downing MCR and CUSU green pages.


Downing runs many Widening Participation events in College to encourage school students to apply to the College. The best way to keep up to date with the current events is to sign up to the Access mailing list by emailing the college Access Officer at  We’ll email out various opportunities throughout the year to get involved in – these could be as easy as hour-long tours of the college (with food included if you participate over lunch!), open days taking place in Easter Term, or other opportunities further afield.

Other ways to get involved include:

  • Signing up for the CUSU Shadowing Scheme in Michaelmas, to allow current year 12s to experience undergraduate life for a couple of days in early Lent Term.
  • Joining the CUSU Ask-A-Student Facebook group to answer questions from current undergraduates.
  • Second years and above have the opportunity to apply to become CAMbassadors, paid roles assisting in Access Events for the University as a whole.


Visiting your old school, or other schools in your area, is particularly useful as it is the most direct way of getting prospective students into contact with a current undergraduate. If you’d like to find out if there are any schools in your area send the Access Officer an email we can discuss what schools might be most in need of a visit.

At the moment, CUSU has good resources, including Powerpoints, available for such visits under its Target Schools scheme. Downing-specific resources are planned to be created and uploaded to this page during Summer 2014.

After you’ve visited, if you send the Access Officer an email detailing where you visited, what you did, and any contact details for the school, there is a chance that College will be able to refund any reasonable travel expenses.

Another page you might want to keep an eye on for participating at home is your regional CUSU Access Group. These allow Access Officers, Admissions Tutors, and Schools Liaison Officers from across Cambridge to request assistance for access events in their ‘Target Area’. Downing’s Target Area is Southwest England, so any students from this region are particularly encouraged to get involved with Downing Access!

Exam Term FAQ

Exam term is on us again, or for the first time for those lucky freshers…

Here is a list of useful information for those who have never sat university exams before, or who have blocked the experience from their minds. Don't forget, if you have any questions about anything, or feel that instructions for anything are unclear, contact the Academic Affairs officer, Welfare officer, your tutor or the Senior Tutor for more information.

How can I found out when/where my exam is? 

You should receive a yellow examinations sheet from the college tutorial office in exam term outlining dates, times and locations of exams. The details are also published in a special edition of the Reporter, and this can be found at

If you have not received your yellow sheet, please contact the T&A office as soon as possible, or the Academic Affairs officer.

Where can I find out directions to my exam halls? 

Find out in advance of the exam where they are and how long it will take you to get there. There are maps of the university on the, but if your exam is in a place not listed there, or you are still not sure where it is, contact the CUSU Academic Affairs officer for details.

What if my nightmare is true and I am late for the exam?

You can enter the exam room up to 30 minutes late. If you know you are going to miss the start of your exam, tell the porters, college nurse, tutor or senior tutor immediately - the College will then ensure that you get to the exam as soon as possible.

The Examiners will phone the College if you do not turn up for an exam.

What can I take into the exam?

You can take in pens, pencils, a bottle of water, a ruler, any stationary needed for that particular exam, the yellow exam list, a clear see through pencil case, and a watch/ quiet timing device.


What if I can't make the exam because of a religious obligation?

The University can make arrangements to allow for religious requirements which would create difficulties for sitting a paper at certain times.

What if I have a special requirement for exams?

If for example you need food at regular intervals, suffer from excessive fatigue and need regular breaks, are unable to access the exam site, need the exam in a different format, require dictation facilities or any other such requests, contact your tutor, college nurse, JCR Academic Affairs officer or the relevant officer at CUSU who will make the relevant arrangements.

What if I am ill during exam term?

There are many mechanisms in place to deal with illness at any time during exam term. Contact your tutor, the college nurse or the JCR Academic Affairs officer for more details. Your tutor will have the most comprehensive info however, so go to them in preference.

Sports funding

There are several funds that you can apply to for help with funding for sports.

The Eric Evans fund:

There are two different forms depending on whether you are applying for money to (a) enhance personal performance or (b) for a coaching, officiating or administration qualification.

The Hawk's Charitable Trust:

Applications have to be endorsed by a University Senior Member to confirm financial need; grants are normally only awarded in sports of Blue or Half-blue status, taking into account if need is equal, the level of sporting excellence and the academic level.

Applications are normally submitted by a date which is defined in the middle of the Lent term and advertised to all colleges and sports clubs.  The trustees make their decisions before the end of that term. Each year the awards are announced in the University Reporter and either at the end of the Lent Term, or early in the Easter Term, a reception is arranged at the Hawks’ Club at which the awards are made.

Talent Athlete Scholarship Scheme:

Sport England TASS provides athletes (aged over 16 years who are currently in education whilst competing at England Talent level in their sport) with a tailored package of Core Services including strength & conditioning, education & lifestyle support, physiotherapy, psychology and sports medicine.

The athletes also receive a sport specific personal award to be used towards training, coaching and competition expenses.


All Ospreys are invited to apply for a bursary, and are encouraged to nominate their team, club, and teammates and fellow Ospreys for one of the other three awards. This year sees the introduction of two new awards; the Oliver Wyman Team of the Year Award and the Deutsche Bank Award for Contribution to Cambridge Sport. These two awards join the prestigious Osprey of the Year Award and Ospreys' Bursaries in honouring the extraordinary achievements of our members.

Downing alumni sports fund (DEADLINE PASSED):

The Downing Alumni Sports fund provides small grants to enable undergraduate and postgraduate students to participate in sporting activities. Applications are welcomed from those competing at any level, but priority will be given to small awards which enable students to participate in sports which they have not previously been able to try. Repeat applications are less likely to be favoured.  The deadline for applications is 12noon, 21 November 2014. Download an application form or pick up a form from the carousel outside the Tutorial and Admissions Office.