Clare College Cambridge

Natural Sciences

Holly Rees

Sixth-Form College, East Anglia


Before choosing to apply to Clare, I had already decided that I would apply to Cambridge for Natural Sciences. I have always been really keen on both Biology and Chemistry, and Natural Sciences seemed like one of the few courses that allow you to study them both in great depth for at least two years. I was also enthused by the idea of an extra year of Maths! The only thing that I didn’t like about the course was the number of hours I would have to spend in the laboratory doing practicals, because I had never enjoyed them at school. However, over the course of the year, I have started to like doing experiments more and more as we have moved onto doing really interesting things, such as a polymerase chain reaction amplification of DNA in ‘Biology of Cells’. In fact, I am now really hoping to do a PhD in Biochemistry or Chemistry after I finish my undergraduate degree.

At first, I found choosing which college to apply to a daunting prospect. There didn’t seem to be much to differentiate between them other than the age of their buildings and their size. To help my decision, I went to loads of the colleges and asked the porters if I could have a quick look around the grounds. Clare really stood out; it has a beautiful bridge across the river, the gardens are incredible and the old buildings are stunning. But what I really remembered from my visit to Clare was how friendly the porters were – one took his time to show me round the Hall, and took me down into ‘Cellars’, the college bar, to make sure I had the best possible impression of Clare!

Having visited, I read up about Clare from the website and the University prospectus – I was delighted to find out that both David Attenborough and James Watson had been to Clare, so it seemed like a very inspirational place to study biology and chemistry. It was also called the ‘friendly college’ – and this has definitely been my experience throughout my first year here. Everyone I have met at Clare has been really open-minded and I feel like I have learnt so much from the other students over dinner or a coffee.

All the first years live in Memorial Court, so you’re never far from your friends. In second and third year, lots of people move out to live in the ‘Colony’, where you can apply to live with groups of friends. It’s always really easy to find people in the Buttery for dinner or lunch, and the food they serve is usually really good.

I have also been amazed at the number of things there are to get involved with and to do at Clare. There is ‘Clare Ents’ every Friday in the fantastic bar (which is underground in a crypt!), ‘Clare Jazz’ and ‘Clare Comedy’, all of which make for great evenings of music and entertainment. Clare also has an auditorium that students can hire out for free to watch a film. That’s not to mention the huge amount of music and sport that you can do at Clare – there seems to be everything from rowing to rock climbing to choir singing. I went on the college skiing trip to Mayrhofen after the first term. This was a great way to get to know people better, away from all the stresses of work!

The academic support at Clare has been outstanding. In particular, this year I have really benefitted from extra revision supervisions in Maths, and a term of one-on-one supervisions to help with essay writing skills. My supervisions have been invaluable in helping me to understand the course material.

If you’re keen to do a challenging but unbelievably rewarding science degree in a friendly and inspirational environment, I can’t recommend coming to Clare to study Natural Sciences highly enough.