"What I think is special about the College is that it's home to an incredibly diverse range of people." Kate Norgrove

Teaching

A partnership with the University

Open Air Study
Open Air Study

Undergraduate teaching at Newnham, as at the other undergraduate colleges, is  a three-way partnership between the student, the College and the University (the latter in the form of its constituent faculties and departments).

All students take one of the Triposes - a joined-up course of study which normally provides teaching over the three years of the normal undergraduate course (or four years in the case of the Integrated Masters courses in Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering).  Within the Tripos, it is the responsibility of the relevant Faculty Boards to determine the overall programme, and to provide the appropriate course of lectures. Practical or fieldwork components of a course are also the responsibility of the Faculty Board.

In parallel with the formal course of lectures and practical work, students also have  supervisions (or tutorials) with senior staff and graduate students. The responsibility for providing supervisions rests with the College. Increasingly, supervisions in very specialised courses are arranged by the relevant departments, but it is the colleges' responsibility to monitor the quality of supervisions, to contribute to the teaching program of the department in this way, and to pay supervisors for their time.

A student's course of study is overseen by her College Director of Studies - a teaching officer whose duties includes advising the students on which courses to take, arranging supervisions, monitoring the student's progress, and providing general academic support.  The DoS also liaises with the Departments over matters affecting the student. Most Directors of Studies are also members of the relevant Faculty, and form a crucial link between the College and the teaching Departments.

As well as regular supervisions and Direction of Studies, colleges may also provide other support for learning. At Newnham, this takes several forms:
  • In some subjects, incoming students are asked to work through subject workbooks and other set work before arriving. This allows the Director of Studies to assess each student's skills right at the start of term, and to make arrangements for any special teaching needed to bring students up to a common standard.
     
  • For freshers, several subjects provide short induction sessions, which are intended to familiarise students with the teaching staff in that subject, and with the arrangements for the course. Cambridge teaching terms are short - eight weeks each in Michaelmas and Lent, and for most students only four weeks in Easter (before exams) - and it can be hard for a student to catch up once she falls behind.  The start of Michaelmas Term is extremely busy, so the induction sessions may start in the week before term, to leave time for the formal business of matriculation, safety briefings and the like.
     
  • Throughout the year, the College runs short seminars on time management, study skills and preparing for exams. The idea here is to allow students to share their ideas with each other - we recognise that all students are individuals and will have their own approaches to these activities, but most will admit to room for improvement in at least one area.
     
  • Each year, Newnham hosts a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. The RLF Fellow is generally in College on two days a week, and can be consulted by any student who wants to develop her writing skills, and particularly her academic writing. We have received extremely positive feedback from both non-scientists and scientists on the Fellows' contributions.

How to Contact Us

Porters' Lodge,
Newnham College,
Sidgwick Avenue,
Cambridge CB3 9DF
tel. 01223 335700
fax 01223 357898

enquiries@newnham.cam.ac.uk
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