Sidney is a lovely College to be at; we’re right in the middle of Cambridge with everything close by (especially Sainsbury’s, which is what we seem to be best known for around Cambridge!).
Tindalls is currently the only art supply store in the city (as of October 2019), but it’s only about a two-minute walk away. We’re a small Cambridge College with a close community, and it’s easy to get to know people across your year and the years above.
Even though Architecture is a small course, Sidney is really well equipped for it: we have one of the largest sections on Architecture of any College and the librarian is happy to buy any books if there’s something useful missing from the library collection. As well as that, there’s an extensive department library. You’ll meet with your Director of Studies (DoS) at the beginning and end of every term. They are there to help, advise, and oversee your academics.
New students will get to know their year group in the Department pretty quickly. Everyone has their own desk and works together in studio, so after first year I also knew most of the year above and even some third years. This is one of nicest things about Architecture at Cambridge - everyone is really friendly and ready to help each other out. We also have Arcsoc, the Architecture society, which organises guest lectures and also amazing parties. The Faculty is about a 15-minute walk from Sidney, or cycling will take about 5-10 minutes.
There are three terms in Cambridge: Michaelmas, Lent, and Easter. Michaelmas and Lent consist of three lecture/supervision days and two studio days, whilst Easter term starts with exams and after that the focus will be on studio work - so no more lectures. In the first two terms you have five lectures per week - one for each of history and theory pre-1800, post-1800, structural design, environmental design and construction. They can vary between one and two hours in length. It is important to go to all of them and make notes either by hand or on a laptop, as you’ll have an exam on each subject. Each week you’ll also have a supervision on the history and theory subjects in small groups. This is a relaxed but really effective way of making sure you understand the lecture content, and can ask any questions you may have. Generally, there will be some reading and maybe a small assignment to do beforehand.
We do the design part of the course during the two stuido days, and the studio tutors guide us through our projects. The first project in Michaelmas will be a built design project, where you’ll work in groups to design and actually build something. This is a really relaxed way of getting used to how everything works and to make new friends. The studio tutors will tell you about drawing and making models and presenting, there’s no need to know any of that beforehand. I remember stressing about expectation levels and knowing these things in advance but I shouldn’t have, Michaelmas is meant to figure all this out. In Lent you’ll probably do more individual projects. At the end of term there’s also a one-week trip which is really cool. Easter will start off with exams and after that there’ll be only studio work, with loads of time preparing for the portfolio hand-in at the end of the year.