Clare College Cambridge

Natural Sciences

David Land

State School, North-East England


My original reasoning for applying to Clare was that I thought it was a more "sciencey" college; its three Nobel Prize winners were all scientists and it had a good number of Scientific Fellows. This, whilst true, was not a good reason for choosing Clare as most teaching is given centrally by the University anyway, only supervisions are college run and no college can guarantee you better supervisors. However, now that I’m at Clare I can give you some better reasons for applying to Clare:


History – Clare is the second oldest college and, as a result, has a fantastic history and traditions. I enjoy feeling like part of an 800-year-old institution and eating in Clare’s Great Hall and walking through Old Court, amongst other things, gives this impression. But, despite this, I’ve never found Clare to be intimidating or overzealous about upholding its traditions; they are maintained because people enjoy them. For example, unlike many colleges, we are not required to wear gowns for Formal Halls, but everyone does because it’s part of the experience.


Relaxed Environment – Studying at Cambridge is hard and there can be a lot of pressure on people to achieve high marks, etc. Clare correctly recognises that most people who have made it to Cambridge are sufficiently motivated and capable already so, whilst offering as much support and help as one could ask for, Clare doesn’t heap additional pressures on you. That said, Clare is still one of the highest-achieving colleges academically despite (or perhaps because of) the more relaxed atmosphere.  


Setting - Clare spans the river Cam in a very beautiful location with what are generally accepted to be the nicest gardens in Cambridge (and Clare students are allowed to go to the gardens whenever they want, except winter, more than can be said for most college Fellows' Gardens...). Despite being conveniently close to the city centre, standing on Clare bridge you can see Clare and King's college (which are both quite stunning), Clare gardens, and the grassy courts of Trinity and King's. You cannot see any streetlights or traffic (except punters). This is personal taste, but I think Clare is definitely one of the nicest college environments.   


Size – Clare is an average-sized colleges, which I think is ideal as it means it is big enough to have plenty of societies and sports teams, whilst still small enough to be a nice community


So that's Clare College in general, now to look more specifically at studying natural sciences here. Studying science at Cambridge is different to studying it at any other university because you have to study three sciences and maths in your first year. So, despite wanting to do Physics, I ended up studying Biology of Cells and Chemistry. However, I would cite this as a good thing, particularly for me as I enjoyed all three of these sciences at A level and I enjoyed being "forced" to take them at university level; but, more importantly, it is very useful to have a broader perspective on the scientific world.