Downing College

| University of Cambridge

Downing College, Cambridge

Downing College, Cambridge was founded in 1800. It teaches in the region of 440 undergraduate students and 183 graduates. The college is ranked in position 11 of 29 in the Tompkins Table of academic results for the year 2014 (where 1 is the top possible score). It is located around 0.75 km from the centre of town.

Courses offered [ + ] Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic | Archaeology & Anthropology | Architecture | Asian and Middle Eastern Studies | Chemical Engineering | Classics | Computer Science | Economics | Education | Engineering | English | Geography | History | History of Art | Human, Social and Political Sciences | Land Economy | Law | Linguistics | Management Studies | Manufacturing Engineering | Mathematics | Medicine | Medicine Graduate Course | Modern & Medieval Languages | Music | Natural Sciences | Philosophy | Psychological and Behavioural Sciences | Theology & Religious Studies | Veterinary Medicine | (additional courses are often available to post-graduate students and many colleges offer complex arrangements of modern languages - please see our courses page for details )

College Scorecard (averages out of five calculated from 20 impressions)
Study (4), Music (3), Sport (4), Smugness (2), Artiness (3) Facilities (4), Accommodation (4)

http://www.dow.cam.ac.uk/ | locate on map

Downing was founded primarily for Medicine and Law. We have consistent very high marks for both these subjects, can came top of the university in terms of percentage of firsts for 1st year medicine last year, as well as having the highest mark in the year.
Downing has guaranteed accommodation for 3 years, and all accomodation is essentially on College - the furthest being 65 Lensfield (or possible 3 Gonville) Roads. There is a very high percentage of ensuite rooms, and most rooms are very high quality. Certain buildings and staircases are used as conference hotels and B&Bs in the holidays. Also, our bedders are amazing, doing far more work for us than they are officially required to.
We have a large, recently-built library, tennis courts, squash courts, a gym, a cafe/bar (with the downstairs 'Party Room' which is essentially a club-for-hire for use for birthdays/fresher's week etc). Being a city college, we are lucky enough to have the Paddock, which is essentially a field that we can play football / relax on or whatever takes our fancy. We also now have a Michelein star chef, so our food is high ranking also!
We have a chapel choir, but no college orchestra. We generally do very well in sport - for instance our MI boat came 2nd in bumps last term.
Downing is a really friendly place, and all the year groups mesh in really well as a College community. Something that actually makes a big difference to student life which is awesome about Downing is that while the gates are locked at night, College room keys open them, so you can arrive back whenever you want after a good night out. Added ot that, our porters are really friendly, and are always up for a chat.
All in all, Downing is an amazing College, and i've certainly loved my time there so far. the 50" TV in the JCR helps too!

Study (5), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (3), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Medical Student (March 29, 2010) - add your impression

Best Accommodation in Cambridge, first year I got massive room, double bed, en-suite. And the people here are the best!

Study (3), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (5), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Current Student (March 30, 2010) - add your impression

Hey! I always thought of Downing as the law college. Amazing for sports and law.. Pretty killer location too - huge grounds etc.

Study (5), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (3), Facilities (3), Accommodation (3), Smugness (2)

Review by Sarah - Graduated 2008 - add your impression

Downing has this kinda reputation as best for law but just putting it out there that others have also come top and beat it in Tomkins for Law in recent years.

Study (3), Artiness (3), Sport (3), Music (3), Facilities (3), Accommodation (3), Smugness (3)

Review by Undisclosed - cam student (September 10, 2009) - add your impression

Firstly, ignore the Tompkins table - a quick look at
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tompkins-Table.png
will show you how unreliable it is.

That aside, the things which set Downing apart from other colleges in Cambridge are:

- The architecture and layout: pretty, very open and fairly unique for a Cambridge college.

- The Paddock: big grassy area inside the college for sports practices, playing around on, sitting in the sun, etc. Unusual in Cambridge - Jesus is the only other college I can think of like this.

- The accomodation: Although all colleges say they will provide accomodation for all three years, Downing has the advantage that all undergraduate accomodation is either in college, in houses that back on to college, or there are a couple of houses in the next street. Most other colleges will pack you off to the other side of town in your 2nd or 3rd years, which is a bit of a pain

Study (4), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (4), Facilities (4), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Finalist (March 29, 2010) - add your impression

Study (3), Artiness (3), Sport (5), Music (2), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (1)

Review by Undisclosed - Current Natural Sciences student (August 18, 2011) - add your impression

It's also a great college for Natural Sciences- sandwiched between the Downing Site, Chemistry department and Pharmacology, and very close to the New Museum Site, it has pretty much all of the sciences covered (Physics beyond the first year is in the Cavendish, which isn't close to anywhere anyway). There's an annual dinner for NatScis as well, subsidised by the college.

The staff, especially the porters, are really accomodating and helpful- you'd think this would be universal but in some colleges the porters are a real pain to deal with.

The college itself benefits from all being built in the same style; even the recently completed Howard building. No ugly 60s block to be ashamed of! This is also reflected in its layout- while some other colleges are arranged somewhat haphazardly due to new courts being added wherever they will fit, Downing's layout is as simplistic and elegant as the neoclassical style in which it was built.

Downing is one of the few colleges which has a green area on which undergrads can walk and play sport, as well as being across the road from Parker's Piece where most sport practices are held.

Study (3), Artiness (2), Sport (4), Music (2), Facilities (4), Accommodation (4), Smugness (1)

Review by Undisclosed - BioNatSci Student (March 29, 2010) - add your impression

The main reason why I chose downing was its close proximity to where natsci lectures would be, and the fact we are allowed on some of the grass at the end of the college.

And I'm glad you could walk on that grass as I have since discovered many other good things about being there, my top 5 in reverse order are:
-The food, actually a lot better than many of the other colleges I have eaten in (formals and slops)
-The location- I can wake up 10 minutes before lectures, can a uni student ask for any more!
-The paddock, as I said its what attracted me to the college and did not dissapoint, not only is it a space to do sports practice on more importantly its a social hub during revision procrastination, you know someone will be there when you need a break.
-The accommodation, each year I have been in incredibley well kept and well sized rooms, which as everyone else says are an easy walk to college, another major plus is that most staircases and houses have ovens, something which you will miss more than you think if you don't have one.
-Sport- The best thing for me has been how incredible the downing sports teams are, not only are most of them of a high standard, they are also very inclusive and friendly catering for all abilities and it has some of the more social college teams outside the mainstream rowing and rugby which of course have a high following at every college.

Overall its a great place to be, but be warned if music is your main interest outside of study this may not be the best college for you.

Study (4), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (2), Facilities (4), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Current NatSci (March 30, 2010) - add your impression

Excellent accommodation and beautiful place, it really is 'the friendly college'

Study (4), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (3), Facilities (3), Accommodation (4), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Current Student (July 20, 2009) - add your impression

Downing is a fantastic place to be - it really is a very friendly place, and one where you feel like you're part of a big family. It's not so small that everyone is on top of one another, but equally not so big that you don't recognise all of the faces, and know at least all of your year, and probably more!

Downing has recently been rated as having the best accommodation in Cambridge, and has many other fantastic facilities, including a Michelin-starred chef, who makes great food.

Downing consistently has one of the best Freshers' Weeks of all Cambridge Colleges.

It is also incredibly successful in sport, in which there are many opportunities.

It might help to clear up this "Law College" business - Downing is known as a Law College because of its significant reputation within the legal world, and this is not at all to the detriment of other subjects. Further, it is known as a Law College not by its academic results, as one previous poster suggested, but by the quality of the teaching, the curiousity and genuine interest of the students, and the fantastic extra-curricular opportunities provided by the extensive community of alumni through the college law society.

Overall, Downing is a great place to be and enjoy the Cambridge experience!

Study (5), Artiness (3), Sport (5), Music (4), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (3)

Review by Undisclosed - Student (March 29, 2010) - add your impression

It is a really nice college. Is 10 minutes away from main town and libraries, but you can also head into the 'real' town and Grantchester. Bar is pretty active. Is not a huge college so everyone knows each other - the word 'community' is ridiculous but it is there. It's not too austere like St John's etc. I wish it was a bit less 'raaa' and a bit more accommodating to the 'alternatives', i.e. people into less common culture stuff. Food is supposedly the best in cambridge, and also it's the one college in cambridge that I know that doesn't have a singly 'ugly' 60s kind of bit - unlike every other college in Cam.

Study (3), Artiness (1), Sport (5), Music (4), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - 2nd year english student (June 20, 2011) - add your impression

A great college to be at if your main interests are high academic achievements and sports. There is a lot of support from tutors and supervisors, they really care how you are doing and help you as much as they can, encouraging students to make the most of their university experience rather than push them to their mental limits to reach their goals. The facilities are of a very high standard- the library is gorgeous and well-stocked, the bar is a great place to hang out because the bar staff (students) try hard to prepare interesting events, the TV rooms boasts with a new 50'' TV, the gym is decent, etc. The accommodation is also very good. First-years mostly have hotel-standard en-suite rooms and second and third years live either in the college staircases or in Lensfield road houses. All of the accommodation is onsite and all of the college buildings are beautiful, no ugly 60ies architecture. Sports teams' performances are outstanding. Not only is there a sports pitch (the paddock) onsite, Kelsey Kerridge Sports centre and Fenner's Gym are only a few minutes away. The location is ideal for science students (and yes, it is very, very convenient to be this close) but being a 5-minute walk away from the city centre is just enough to avoid the tourists and the crowd but still have everything right in front of you. Freshers' Week is extensive and there is a lot of activities so there is something for everyone. Hall food is amazing, definitely way better than at most of other colleges. Also the other college staff (porters, bedders, people in the T&A office, etc.) are incredibly friendly and understanding (especially when it comes down to paperwork or deadlines, which is often useful).

There are two sides to every story and Downing is no exception. Whilst the college is just the right size in terms of people so you never get bored or seeing the same faces but know almost everyone, people form very close groups from the very beginning at it is easy to feel lonely and left out if you do not fit in. The next thing is that the college is not particularly wealthy, hence the accommodation and food are quite expensive, especially if you do not ever cook for yourself. Music is also not the strongest attribute of Downing, so most students who do want to do it, usually do something (play in an orchestra or sing in a choir) outside the college but the situation is improving a bit by open mic nights in the bar every now and then. The students are hard-working in general, which contributes to slight competitiveness and less of a team spirit when it comes down to work.

All in all, I think Downing is a lovely place to be but to be honest, it is not the best college for those who seek an exceptionally friendly and laid-back community.

Study (5), Artiness (2), Sport (5), Music (2), Facilities (5), Accommodation (4), Smugness (3)

Review by Undisclosed - Current student (April 17, 2010) - add your impression

Whoever said Downing was the "Law College" was wrong. It's got a great tradition of other subjects too (medics and engineers to name but two). But that's kind of irrelevant when you're picking your college. The most important thing is who you're around. Downing is a college where everyone knows everyone else unlike some of the other larger colleges, but it's not like we're Sidney Sussex, where we're all right next to each other and so have to. Also, Downing is exceptional at sport, Top of the football league and netball league, second in rugby (to Johns who essentially have the blues team) and with a solid Rowing club as well (2nd in Lent bumps).

Downing is also in a prime location, right next to Downing Site (for medics and Bio-natscis), the Chemistry dept and the Engineering dept, close to the centre of town and only a short bike ride from Sidgwick and other such places.

Finally Downing is a good looking college with MASSIVE grounds. If you want to feel like you're really at Cambridge you might prefer this to a less photogenic college like Churchill or Robinson.

Study (3), Artiness (1), Sport (5), Music (4), Facilities (4), Accommodation (5), Smugness (1)

Review by NSD - Current Downing Engineer (March 29, 2010) - add your impression

Study (5), Artiness (4), Sport (5), Music (5), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Undisclosed (March 30, 2010) - add your impression

Downing is definitely brilliant for law - we have the best supervisors, a law society with great links to the profession and a great library with lots of law resources. It also has a good reputation for natural sciences and medicine, and the fact that it's next to the lecture halls for those subjects probably helps!

Study (5), Artiness (3), Sport (5), Music (4), Facilities (4), Accommodation (4), Smugness (1)

Review by Undisclosed - Undergraduate (March 29, 2010) - add your impression

Study (5), Artiness (3), Sport (5), Music (5), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - Undisclosed (March 30, 2010) - add your impression

BEST college ofc...
amazing for law and medicine. actually best college for law obv (virgo..)
beautiful grounds
small enough so you know everyone but big enough so you dont have to know everyone well
reeealllly friendly porters
just, generally amazing...

Study (4), Artiness (3), Sport (3), Music (3), Facilities (3), Accommodation (4), Smugness (1)

Review by Undisclosed - student, undergrad, fresher (March 31, 2010) - add your impression

Downing is such a friendly college, something which is immediately clear as soon as you get to the porters lodge! Both students and staff are so welcoming you will immediately feel at home here.

In the summer Downing is beautiful with wide open space instead of lots of cramped courts. There are no ugly modern add ons, as all buildings are done in the style of the original ones, including our brand new theatre.

Sport is very big in Downing and we top leagues in many sports. We have an especially good boat club and are committed to rewarding sporting achievements.

It is well-known for medicine and law with excellent supervisors and a good number of students in each. Having said that we also have a large number of natural scientists.

With one of the best freshers weeks in Cambridge, this is definitely worth putting on your shortlist!
[And do come and visit us if you get the chance :) ]

Study (4), Artiness (3), Sport (5), Music (4), Facilities (4), Accommodation (4), Smugness (3)

Review by Rebecca Farrington - Law student (March 31, 2010) - add your impression

I studied in Downing as a graduate student about 10 years ago. Although it has very good facilities for the undergraduates, the I felt that the graduate students were not given ideal housing. It is only for a year, it is not in the college grounds and I felt I do not really belong to the college.

The eating facilities are the best however and deserve a mention.

The computing facilities were poor and it is made difficult to access.

A number of my overseas friends have been unhappy and left the college for other options (St CatherineĀ“s or Darwin mostly).

I remember one tutor with long hair and looking pretty cool, however eveytime I had to go to the tutorial office to collect my scholarship check, he would greet me by saying "what is the problem"?

Well, sir the problem is that I never felt welcomed in your college. And being an Associate Professor myself now, I always remember you and act the opposite to the students, that is welcoming them and not making them feel out of place.

Study (3), Artiness (3), Sport (5), Music (3), Facilities (3), Accommodation (2), Smugness (3)

Review by Undisclosed - Ex graduate (July 5, 2012) - add your impression

Study (4), Artiness (3), Sport (4), Music (4), Facilities (5), Accommodation (5), Smugness (2)

Review by Undisclosed - current student (May 24, 2012) - add your impression