Since all colleges have Computer Science for undergraduates, deciding where to study CS at the University of Cambridge can be a difficult task for freshers.
In this detailed guide, we talk about the best Cambridge Colleges for Computer Science, entry requirements, TMAU scores, acceptance rate for Computer Science and other related topics.
From Churchill to Trinity, read on for an in-depth look at the top options for studying computing at one of the world’s premier universities.
If you are applying to the University of Cambridge, consider reading:
The Best 8 Cambridge Colleges for Computer Science
Choosing where to study computer science at the prestigious University of Cambridge can be a difficult decision.
With over 30 colleges to pick from, each with unique characteristics, it’s important to find the best fit for your needs and interests.
Based on factors like faculty, facilities, student experience and more, here are 8 of the best Cambridge colleges for studying computer science.
The most popular and one of the best Cambridge colleges for Computer science is Churchill. Relatively young compared to other colleges, founded in 1958, Churchill College has a strong reputation in science and technology subjects.
It is the largest undergraduate college for computer science, with around 130 students per year studying the subject.
More than 300 students apply every year for Computer Science at Churchill, but the acceptance rate is among the lowest CS subjects.
According to a 2022 admission report from Cambridge, Churchill College’s acceptance rate for Computer Science was 4.69%. Only 15 applicants were offered a place.
Churchill boasts excellent computing facilities including a specialised IT room and printing services. Students praise the engaging supervision with approachable professors who provide academic guidance and support.
Churchill’s central location offers easy access to key parts of campus. With modern, utilitarian architecture rather unspoiled by tradition, Churchill provides a relaxed and informal atmosphere perfect for focusing on your studies.
St John’s College
St John’s College admits around 5-6 students per year for Computer Science courses. It’s rated as one of the best Cambridge colleges for Computer Science by former students and in the league tables.
The acceptance rate for CS is around 8%.
With high scores in Tompkins table, it is constantly ranked in the top 10 undergraduate colleges at Cambridge.
St John’s was established in 1511, historic courtyards and immaculate lawns provide a quintessential Cambridge setting. Provides specialised Computer Labs and 24-hour IT support.
Students benefit from the college’s academic prestige and excellent relationships with faculty in the Computer Science department.
St John’s offers exceptional funding support through scholarships and bursaries, probably the best at the University of Cambridge.
There are frequent formal halls, a renowned May Ball, many talks and traditions, and a wide range of extracurricular activities to get involved in. The central location also provides easy access to university-wide events.
The college provides many free amenities that other colleges charge for. This includes free membership for sports clubs, free punting lessons, free summer storage, and free parking. There is also a focus on providing free events and activities for students.
St John’s guarantees college-owned accommodation for all years of undergraduate study, and likely for postgraduate study. The en-suite ratios are reasonably good for university housing. Even basic rooms are properly maintained.
With around 180 students per year and 30 per subject, St John’s large size makes it easy to find friends within your college. The porters and staff provide excellent pastoral care too.
For years Trinity has been a top Cambridge college for Computer Science. Constantly ranked in the top 3 on Tompkins table.
Trinity admits around 15 computer science undergraduates annually and has an excellent computing lab open 24/7.
As the largest and wealthiest college, Trinity provides exceptional resources from extensive libraries to funds for research, conferences and internships.
Trinity College offer holders for Computer Science course usually have the highest TMAU score compared to other Cambridge colleges. In 2022, the average TMAU score for accepted students was 7.9.
The acceptance rate for Computer Science at Trinity College was 17% in 2022.
The college provides an intimate and personalised learning experience for computer science students. With small group supervision led by experts, students can develop close relationships and interactions with their professors.
The computer science course itself starts with a broad foundation covering topics like databases, graphics, AI, and various programming languages, alongside math, in the first year. This platform enables students to specialise more in later years based on their interests.
Surrounded by extremely talented peers working on inspiring projects, students find their ambitions raised by being in such a motivating environment.
Career paths after graduation are diverse, from programming at top tech companies to using computing skills for social impact.
The college system also facilitates exploring a wide breadth of knowledge across disciplines, enabled by interacting with students from all fields of study.
With its blend of math and programming fundamentals, creativity, collaborative spirit, and intellectual breadth, Trinity delivers a UK-leading computer science education.
One of Cambridge’s newest colleges, Robinson was established in 1977 with a modernist architectural style. Small and friendly, Robinson admits 7 computer science students per year.
Robinson is considered a great Cambridge college for Computer science with an acceptance rate of around 10%.
Robinson’s Computing Lab is well-equipped with 24-hour access for students. The college is egalitarian and relaxed, providing a supportive environment.
Robinson has a reputation for strength in sciences and high student satisfaction.
The college offers awards and support for those facing financial hardship. Robinson’s small community and focus on student well-being make it an excellent choice for studying Computer science.
As one of the smaller and more intimate colleges at Cambridge, Emmanuel has a very friendly and international atmosphere that fosters a sense of community.
Its coveted central location, nestled near the market square, puts you right in the heart of town.
This makes it easy to pop out to lectures, shops, pubs and clubs, with little travel time wasted.
A very small number of students per year study computer science at Emmanuel. They accept around 3 applicants yearly, with an acceptance rate of around 6.5%.
Emmanuel’s court buildings and gardens have a palpable sense of history, being founded way back in 1584. The college chapels host beautiful choir performances and organ recitals to enjoy.
Don’t let the historic facade fool you – the accommodation at Cambridge is modern and comfortable, with some rooms even along the River Cam for idyllic views.
The college recently invested £2 million in upgrading IT infrastructure, with an onsite computer officer providing support.
Emmanuel has strong relationships with the Computer Science department, organising joint supervisions with other colleges.
Studying computer science at Emmanuel means being part of a vibrant, centrally located college community.
Finances are made easier at Emmanuel as the inclusive fee covers necessities like room fridge rental and laundry without surprise add-ons.
Generous bursaries and scholarships are also available based on need. Dining is a social highlight, with formal halls featuring a delicious, freshly made menu.
While it lacks some facilities available at larger colleges, like a student bar or gym, Emmanuel’s more relaxed atmosphere has appeal. There are still squash courts, music practice spaces and a computer lab.
Your time can be spent on more important things, like punting along the Cam or partaking in the weird and wonderful traditions of the eccentric Cambridge colleges.
Its cosy environment allows you to settle in and focus on your studies and interests, while still being close to the stimulating buzz of the city.
If you prioritise charm, character and convenience, Emmanuel may feel just right.
Dating back to 1326, Clare College is one of Cambridge’s ancient colleges with elegant courts and lawns by the river.
Clare takes around 5 Computer science undergraduates per year, with an acceptance rate of around 6-7.5%.
Clare College deserves strong consideration thanks to its excellent facilities and resources for Computer Science courses.
As a top Cambridge college for Computer science, it can offer a small cohort of CompSci students to motivate each other and regularly get together for late-night coding sessions or to commiserate over challenging problem sets.
Direct supervision comes from an engaged Director of Studies with an inspirational teaching style that keeps students focused through long supervision sessions.
Proximity to the Computer Lab in central Cambridge provides easy access for spending late nights working on projects or using lab equipment.
Beyond studies, Clare offers a vibrant social setting with formal dinners, parties at their underground bar, and plenty of opportunities to unwind with peers on the grounds.
Students can go punting on the River Cam or enjoy meals at the on-site cafe.
I think it provides an ideal balance between academic rigour and a supportive community with many international students.
Queen’s College admits around 8 students for Computer Science courses each year. With typical Cambridge high standards can provide a great opportunity to study and develop computer coding skills, and start a career in IT.
It’s one of the oldest colleges, with a strong focus on tradition. Queen’s is ranked 10 on Tompkins table.
The acceptance rate for CS is around 8-9%. So, these are the fair chances to get into Cambridge if you score a high TMUA score and prepare well for interviews.
The college library houses an extensive computing section. Students experience a friendly atmosphere and camaraderie at Queen’s along with outstanding academic support.
Centrally located by the river, Queen’s offers convenience and connectivity. Queen’s encourages a diverse environment, providing bursaries to attract students from all backgrounds.
Queen’s long history and strong identity make it a distinguished choice for studying computer science.
Everything started with Peterhouse. It’s the oldest Cambridge college, founded in 1284.
Very traditional Cambridge College. Maybe will sound like is not for Computer Science, one of the most popular subjects in education in the UK.
But, surprise – compared to the really small size (you will see if visit) of the college, Peterhouse admits around 3 computer science students per year.
Peterhouse has one of the smallest number of applicants in Computer Science – around 15-20 per year.
The acceptance rate is around 15-17% but does not give a realistic view of the applicant’s chances to get into the Peterhouse computer science course.
Students experience personalised academic guidance from expert supervision. The college’s computing facilities benefit from frequent upgrades and extended access hours.
Peterhouse’s city centre location offers convenience. The college encourages excellence through scholarships and essay prizes.
Since the college is very small, you will have a chance to meet all students and tutors.
Make sure to read the following:
- The Best Cambridge Colleges
- Cambridge Colleges Rankings
- Top Cambridge Colleges for Engineering
- Cambridge Colleges For Medicine
- The Best Cambridge Colleges For Law
- The Best Oxford Colleges for Computer Science
- Top Durham Colleges
- University of Cambridge acceptance rate guide
- Best student accommodation at Cambridge colleges
Best Cambridge College For Computer Science For International Students
For international students looking to study Computer science, Cambridge offers a world-class education.
Read also: Cambridge colleges ranked
When weighing the different colleges, key factors to consider include diversity and inclusion, support services, and community engagement. Based on these criteria, here are some of the top options for international computer science students:
Churchill College stands out for its diversity and number of international students. Over 50% of students come from abroad, allowing you to meet peers from around the world.
Churchill also provides tailored support services for international students like English language programmes, cultural transition assistance, and visa advice.
It’s the most popular and best college for Computer science at Cambridge for international students.
Its informal, egalitarian culture encourages international students to get involved in college life and build a sense of belonging.
St Edmund’s College
St Edmund’s College has an internationally focused outlook, admitting students exclusively for master’s and doctoral programmes. It is great and one of the best colleges for Computer Science at Cambridge for postgraduate students.
Along with academics from across the globe, St Edmund’s attracts over 450 international students from 100 different countries.
The college offers exceptional support like free English lessons, mentoring programs, and family events to welcome partners and children of international scholars.
Ranked at the top of Tompkins table, Trinity is one of the most popular Cambridge colleges for international students.
Also, many overseas students consider Trinity College as a top choice for Computer Science at Cambridge.
Trinity College has the resources and global network to support international students in computer science.
As one of the largest colleges, Trinity hosts students from over 40 countries and provides special funding for internationals facing financial hardship.
Trinity students gain access to worldwide internship and job opportunities through the college’s extensive alumni network.
Why Study Computer Science at Cambridge University?
From Alan Turing to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Cambridge University has a great history of pioneering computer scientists.
Today it remains one of the world’s best places to study Computer Science and launch a successful tech career.
Some of the key reasons why Cambridge stands out for computer science:
- Top research options – Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory undertakes globally impactful research across subjects like machine learning, cybersecurity, quantum computing and graphics. Innovation and technology are the heart of Cambridge University. Studying alongside world experts provides opportunities to get involved in emerging fields.
- Outstanding faculty – Cambridge’s computer science faculty includes outstanding academics like Professor Ross Anderson, Dr Pietro Liò and Dr Cecilia Mascolo, pioneers in security engineering, machine learning and mobile systems.
- Industry Connections – Cambridge’s reputation has attracted partnerships with tech giants from Microsoft Research to Google’s DeepMind, providing pathways to careers at top companies.
- Historic Setting – Undoubtedly, studying CompSci surrounded by Cambridge’s ancient colleges fosters creativity and innovation, while graduate-only colleges provide a solely academic environment.
- Vibrant Tech Community – Cambridge offers abundant tech clubs, hackathons, competitions and events to get involved beyond your studies and build your skills.
- Worldwide Alumni Network – Graduating from Cambridge Computer Science provides access to a prestigious global community of experts and opportunities.
Entry Requirements for Computer Science at Cambridge
First off, to get into the best Cambridge colleges for Computer Science you’ll need killer math skills.
We’re talking A* in A-Level Maths as a bare minimum. Some colleges want an A* in Further Maths too if you can take it. An A* in Physics or Chemistry doesn’t hurt either.
For IB students, you’ll need around 42-43 points total, with 776-777 in Higher Level subjects. Again, 7 in HL Math is non-negotiable.
Another 7 in science like Physics or Chem will strengthen your application.
Now, here’s the twist. You don’t need only great grades, all applicants have to sit the Test of Mathematics for University Admission.
So make sure you prepare for that. It’ll assess how you apply your math knowledge to solve problems.
While you don’t need programming experience beforehand, Further Maths or similar advanced math will give you a major edge.
If it’s not offered at your school, self-study AS Level modules, online material, or math competitions.
The colleges might adjust offers based on your unique situation. But keep in mind – this is highly competitive.
You’ll need to exceed expectations to stand out. Meeting the typical offer is no guarantee.
If English is not your first language, you’ll need IELTS 7.5 overall plus 7.0 in writing, or equivalent English qualification.
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Do you need to sit an Entry Exam for Computer Science?
Yes, to be admitted for undergraduate Computer Science at Cambridge you must take the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA).
What is TMUA?
The Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) is a mathematics entrance exam used by several UK universities, including Durham, Warwick, and Cambridge, to assess the mathematical potential of applicants.
It is typically taken by students applying to study mathematics, computer science, engineering, and related fields.
The 2.5-hour TMUA exam is split into two parts:
- Paper 1: Applications of Mathematical Knowledge
- Paper 2: Mathematical Reasoning
Both parts consist of 20 multiple-choice questions.
Topics covered include algebra, trigonometry, calculus, vectors, complex numbers, and more.
The aim of the TMUA is not to test what students have been taught, but rather their underlying aptitude and capacity to understand new mathematical concepts.
High scores demonstrate strong mathematical reasoning skills and analytical abilities.
Analysing results from 2022, the TMUA scores show a clear pattern – applicants with higher scores are much more likely to receive offers across Cambridge colleges.
The average applicant scored around 5 out of 9, while the average for offer holders was around 7 TMAU score.
Scoring above the average is a must if you want to get into the best Cambridge colleges for Computer Science.
TMUA Exam Key Dates for the 2024 Entry Cycle
TMUA key dates for the 2024 entry cycle are below in the table.
|1 September 2023||Registration opens|
|29 September 2023 at 18.00 (BST)||Deadline for test centres to register candidates|
|18 October 2023||Test date|
|28 November 2023 at 9.00 GMT||Results released|
|1 December 2023||Deadline to apply for a Results Enquiry|
Cambridge Colleges Computer Science Acceptance Rate
In 2022, the University of Cambridge received over 1600 undergraduate applications for around 160 places in Computer Science.
Cambridge’s acceptance rate across all courses is around 15.7%, so Computer Science is significantly more competitive.
Computer Science acceptance rate at Cambridge is around 13%.
Acceptance rates vary slightly across Cambridge colleges, depending on how many computer science students each admits annually.
In 2022, Trinity College offered 15 out of 87 applicants (17.2% rate), compared to Churchill’s 15 out of 320 applicants (4.7% rate).
Check below in the table Computer science acceptance rate for all Cambridge colleges in 2022.
|College||Offers||CompSci Acceptance rate|
|Gonville and Caius||6||12.2%|
Is the University of Cambridge Good for Computer Science?
If Stephen Hawking did not make a mistake studying at Cambridge, neither will you.
The University of Cambridge provides an excellent CompSci education that distinguishes itself from other top universities in a few key ways:
- Cambridge offers a broad computer science curriculum that exposes students to a wide range of topics – from programming languages and algorithms to the history and social implications of computing. This gives students a comprehensive understanding of the field.
- There is less emphasis on learning specific programming languages and more focus on problem-solving methods and computational thinking. This trains students to adapt their skills as languages and technologies change over time.
- Through individual and group projects, students gain valuable real-world experience in managing time, collaborating in teams, documenting work, and presenting results. This builds career-ready skills beyond just coding proficiency.
Cambridge takes a thoughtful approach designed to produce well-rounded computer scientists. The focus is on building strong analytical skills, breadth of knowledge, and the ability to apply computer science concepts to solve complex, real-world problems.
Students graduate with a great theoretical foundation and practical abilities that enable success in either graduate studies or industry careers.
Which Cambridge campus is best for Computer Science?
For undergraduates, the Computer Science course is based in the West Cambridge site, where excellent facilities like the William Gates Building (home of the Computer Lab) are located. The central department and lectures are situated here rather than on individual college campuses.
Which Cambridge College has the most Computer Science students?
Churchill College has the largest number of undergraduates studying Computer Science. This contrasts with smaller colleges like Peterhouse which may admit as few as 10.
Which Cambridge colleges do Computer Science?
All undergraduate colleges accept students for CompSci courses.
How long is Cambridge Computer Science?
The undergraduate Computer Science degree is three years. There is also a four-year option to include an integrated master’s year or study abroad. Graduates can then stay on for a one-year Master’s qualification or pursue doctoral research at Cambridge.
Do I need further maths for computer science at Cambridge?
Further Maths at A Level is a highly recommended prerequisite for Cambridge’s demanding Computer Science course. Applicants are expected to have an A* in Maths A Level plus Further Maths demonstrates wider mathematical ability essential for computing concepts.
What is the most difficult Cambridge College for Computer Science?
Churchill College has the lowest acceptance rate at around 4.7% making it highly competitive, however, the difficulty varies individually.
What is the easiest Cambridge College for Computer Science?
No Cambridge college offers an ‘easy’ admittance to Computer Science, which is consistently competitive across all colleges. However, the highest acceptance rates have Hughes Hall (42.9%), St Edmund’s (37.5) and Wolfson (33%).
What is the average TMUA score for offer holders?
For Computer Science, successful Cambridge applicants average around 7 on the TMUA score. Scoring above these averages provides a greater chance of admission.