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SPIA Program at University of Cambridge, Pembroke College
Cambridge, United Kingdom (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Fall Semester
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Restrictions: Princeton applicants only
Budget Sheets Fall Semester
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Fact Sheet:
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Dept Offering Program: Study Abroad OIP Type of Program: Study Abroad
Language of Instruction: English Language Prerequisite: No
Program Features: Academic Study Degree Level: 3rd year u/g students
Time Away: Fall Semester Housing options:
Duration of Program: More than 4 weeks Program Adviser: Claire Hu
Program Description:
Program Description:

SPIA Program at University of Cambridge, Pembroke College

Please be reminded that you may need to meet different deadlines when applying to this program. This program has reached capacity. Please contact Claire Hu ( if you would like to discuss options for future semesters.
  • Princeton will nominate each candidate for the SPIA Cambridge program by March 10, 2021
  • Nominated students must submit the Pembroke College application by April 1, 2021
  • Students must complete all materials in GPS for final Study Abroad approval by April 30, 2021

The University

The University of Cambridge is one of the world's oldest universities and leading academic centers, and a self-governed community of scholars. Its reputation for outstanding academic achievement is known world-wide and reflects the intellectual achievement of its students, as well as the world-class original research carried out by the staff of the University and the Colleges. Students live, eat and socialize in one of the University’s 31 autonomous Colleges. Undergraduates receive College supervisions – small group teaching sessions – regarded as one of the best teaching models in the world. Pembroke College, founded in 1347 by Marie de St Pol, Countess of Pembroke, is proud of its traditions. Located in the heart of the University city, Pembroke presents a tranquil environment with varied architectural styles framing beautiful gardens and open courts.

Pembroke is an intimate yet diverse community, committed to welcoming students of exceptional talent regardless of their social, cultural or educational background, and giving them the benefit of contact with a large and distinguished Fellowship. Students also enjoy extracurricular pursuits such as music, drama and sport as well as actively engaging in outreach and charity work. 



Visiting students are often drawn to Cambridge by its supervision system. The supervision system is one of the distinctive features of the Cambridge undergraduate teaching system. Cambridge students attend lectures and seminars offered by the University but also typically attend a one-hour weekly supervision, either individually or in small groups, with an expert in the course, or "paper", they are taking. The supervisor will set weekly essays based upon lengthy reading lists and material from relevant lecture and seminar courses. The emphasis is not on ‘contact hours’ but on closely guided, research-based essay writing and problem-solving.

SPIA students will arrive in early September and begin supervisions for their first paper right away (the same as the rest of the Fall students), as well as their task force policy seminar. Students will take their second paper at the start of October, so the two papers will overlap in October as they have 8 weekly supervisions for each paper.

Pembroke offers papers in the following subjects: Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Archaeology, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Classics, Economics, Education, English, History, History of Art, Human, Social, and Political Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion. The system is quite flexible, however in each faculty there may be papers you cannot take as part of a Semester Program. You can discuss your options during the application process.

Note: There may be certain limitations to the courses available for students. Some courses are suitable only if you have completed pre-requisites, e.g. in econometrics, while other papers in the spring semester may be unavailable if vital lectures are delivered in the fall term. 

Once you are admitted to the program you will receive advice on how to choose your papers. A list of papers can be found on the relevant faculty and department websites. 

Regular undergraduates at Cambridge sit ‘Tripos’ exams at the end of each academic year, which are set and administrated by the university, and must be passed in order to proceed to the next year. This wouldn’t work for Semester students. SPIA students therefore sit exams set by their supervisors, which are tailored to the material that they have covered and organised/invigilated by International Programmes. The assessment for grading purposes is made on the basis of these exams and on your coursework.


As a semester student, you will be assigned a personal tutor, usually an academic or an administrator, who will take a close interest in the progress of your studies and also in your other interests and activities. Beside an interest in your academic work, he or she is also there to help in matters of general welfare and to give guidance, advice and help when this is wanted; and to help you get the most out of being in Cambridge and Pembroke. You will have regular meetings with your Tutor throughout the semester to ensure you are settling in well, and you can also call on your Tutor at any time with personal issues, concerns, etc.

Academic Calendar

Note that the Cambridge academic year consists of three terms: Michaelmas (October to early December), Lent (January to early March), and Easter (April to mid-June).  SPIA fall semester students must arrive in Cambridge approximately 1 month before the start of Michaelmas to start their supervisions work early. For more information, please see the calendar page.
  • Arrive: September 6, 2021
  • Depart: December 11, 2021


On this program, you will be allocated housing in University housing in the city or in one of the Cambridge Colleges. Housing does vary from year to year, but generally, students will be housed in Pembroke College ‘hostels’ (College-owned shared houses) with other Semester students, within a 15 minute walk of the main college site. Keep in mind that Cambridge is not a campus university, and the colleges, accommodation, departments, faculties, libraries, etc. are all spread across the city. Student rooms are single-occupancy and have washbasins and internet access. 

Dining is an important part of College life. All colleges have a servery (sometimes referred to as a buttery) and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pembroke students tend to eat the majority of their meals in the college as it is good way to catch up with fellow students. The Pembroke servery offers a wide variety of breakfast items, ranging from croissants, cereal and yogurts to a full English breakfast. For lunch and dinner there are always fish, meat and vegetarian options, together with an array of vegetable side dishes and dessert choices. Light meals and snacks are also available at Café Pembroke.

You can also attend College dinners known as ‘Formal Halls’. These are three-course candlelit meals enjoyed in beautiful dining halls with your fellow students and faculty, a Cambridge tradition dating back hundreds of years. You can find out more about catering at Pembroke through the Kitchen’s blog.

Student Life

The SPIA program begins with a welcome buffet and orientation sessions and ends with a farewell drinks reception. You'll also get to attend a drinks reception with the Master of Pembroke and take two trips out of Cambridge, which are included in your program fees.

The SPIA program is administered by Pembroke College and all semester students will matriculate as Pembroke College members. As a Semester student you will be a Cambridge student and consequently there are plenty of extracurricular activities you can get involved in. Whether you’re interested in sports, music, acting, politics or journalism, there will be a student club, or Society as they are called in Cambridge, you can join.

Colleges are hubs of social activity. Each college has a bar and a Junior Common Room (JCR) which is the focus of undergraduate life. Pembroke’s JCR is actually called the Junior Parlour (JP) and its website gives a flavour of what College life has to offer. The Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) represents Cambridge students at the University level, and provides central services, support and entertainment for all students. University societies involve students from all the Colleges and there is a huge variety of societies.

Money Matters

Students who receive financial aid at Princeton continue to receive Princeton financial aid for the approved costs of study abroad programs during the academic year. For detailed information about financial aid, program fees, and billing for study abroad, please visit the Money Matters section of the Study Abroad website.

Passport and Visa

Most students will enter the country on a short term study visa, which will be acquired at the border (no need to apply in advance). This allows you to study in the U.K. for fewer than six months. Under no circumstances should you apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa to attend the SPIA fall semester program. If you are a non-visa national, and the UKVI website informs you that you do not require a visa, you must present the short term study letter (and carry supporting documentation) at the UK border and request a short term study visa stamp in your passport, even if not prompted.  You are able to apply for a short term study visa if you are from outside the EEA (European Economic Areas) and Switzerland and meet the other eligibility requirements:
  • You are aged 18 or over
  • You have been offered a place on a course at Cambridge and intend to leave the UK at the end of the study or at the end of the six months, whichever is sooner
  • You have evidence of sufficient money to support yourself, and pay for your return journey, without working or using help from public funds
If you are a visa national, or are planning to spend more than 6 months in the UK, you should discuss your visa situation with both your Princeton study abroad adviser and Pembroke.

Please read the UK visa and immigration guide on other documents to include in your application.  


SPIA students are eligible to apply for the fall Pembroke program with a 3.0/ B average for the fall and spring semesters prior to the semester of study abroad. 

Application Process

Students interested in applying to this program must complete separate processes:
  • SPIA students must be nominated by Princeton by March 10, 2021. Click "apply now" here on this GPS brochure to access the application.
  • If you are nominated, then you must apply directly to the Pembroke College program by April 1, 2021. Visit the program website directly for application instructions, deadline, and further information. 
  • SPIA students must complete all GPS materials, including their course approval forms, by April 30, 2021.
As part of the application process, students designate the supervisions they wish to take while at Cambridge. Applicants should be sure to plan their supervisions with the help of the appropriate departmental representative at Princeton. 

Pembroke College will make the final admission decisions. All SPIA students will be required to submit a non-refundable program deposit once accepted by Pembroke.

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Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall Semester 2021 04/30/2021 05/07/2021 TBA TBA
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