Glossary of Terms


All undergraduate studies at Cambridge lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The degree or Master of Arts (MA) is not awarded on examination, but is awarded, on application, to any BA in their seventh year of matriculation.


A College employee who does domestic work in the residential rooms of a College, including cleaning the room, changing the sheets, but not making the bed.

Director of Studies

Each student at Cambridge has a Director of Studies whose task it is to keep a student’s academic progress under review, advise on choice of courses and recommend specific programmes of study.


A Fellow is a senior member of the College, who shares in its government. The Fellows, together with the Head of House – in Trinity’s case, the Master – are collectively responsible for College affairs. They are responsible not only for teaching, but also for administration, finance, catering and care of buildings.

Formal Hall

Three-course, waiter-served meal taken in Hall (q.v.)

Gyp Room

This is a basic kitchen in College accommodation for the use of College members. ‘Gyp’ is a name that was once given to college servants.


‘Hall’ refers both to the meals taken in Hall and to the magnificent College Hall itself.


The Junior Combination Room is the undergraduate common room administered by the Trinity College Students Union (TCSU).


The Head of House at Trinity, who together with the Fellows, is responsible for the governance of the College. Despite the connotations of the title, the Master of Trinity can be either a man or a woman.

May Week

May Week is the week after the end of the Easter Term. Despite the name, May Week is in June. It is a time of celebration and relaxation after the conclusion of the exam period. The May Bumps rowing races happen during the first week. The second week is when college May Ball traditionally takes place.


The College Porters are in charge of regulating access to the College, signing keys in and out, delivering mail, and generally making sure that the College runs smoothly. Porters do not, alas, carry bags, and it is wise not to risk offence by asking them to do so.

Set (of rooms)

A fair number of student rooms in Trinity take the form of a ‘set’, usually consisting of a smaller bedroom and larger living (or ‘keeping’) room. Some sets consist of a shared keeping room with two separate bedrooms, giving an opportunity to live with a friend.


These are the main form of College teaching in Cambridge. They are small group teaching sessions taken by a specialist in your area of study (a Supervisor).


This is the way a Cambridge degree course is organised. In most cases the Tripos is divided into two parts; the first part taken is at the end of the first or second year and the second part at the end of the third (or sometimes fourth) year.


Each student is assigned to a Tutor, who is responsible for looking after their personal welfare whilst at Cambridge. Back to Top