Pembroke is one of the most beautiful and charming* of the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. With one of Oxford’s grandest dining halls, a distinguished baroque chapel and dominated by beautiful fifteenth to seventeenth century architecture, the Pembroke grounds are inspiring. Pembroke is famous as the place where J.R.R. Tolkien put pen to paper and wrote the story of a Hobbit from the shire. It is where Samuel Johnson tackled the English language as an undergraduate and where Oliver Cromwell’s most trusted parliamentarian John Pym, first argued the merits of an English Republic.
The interests of today’s graduates are equally diverse; with students studying taught and research courses from all faculties of the university. Pembroke’s MCR is particularly international in flavour, with a large number of students from all the continents successfully applying every year. The college offers a number of graduate scholarships and is home to many Rhodes scholars.
Selecting an Oxford College is a very personal decision. Academic interests, aesthetic judgements and social considerations all play a part. Pembroke is not for everyone. It is active, intense and diverse; all qualities that attract students after a certain type of Oxford experience. Whilst academic achievement is a top priority there are very few Pembroke graduates who concentrate exclusively on their research.
The college is a classic Oxford college, with the corresponding old-fashioned traditions and facilities that the older foundations maintain. For some, a modern college without the ritual and traditions of an ancient Oxford College will seem a more amenable option. Similarly, as with all the ancient colleges, Pembroke is home to a large undergraduate population alongside the MCR. For some, an exclusively postgraduate environment is preferable to the busy life of a full-blooded Oxford College.
The MCR’s internationalism means that although we have many British members, the culture is far more cosmopolitan than cloistered. At the end of the day, you will doubtless find that there are a number of colleges that on paper seem to fulfil your criteria, and it will come down to a gut feeling about the kind of communities you sense behind the walls. Look around this website, especially the ‘about the MCR’ section, browse the Student Union's web page for more info on different colleges, and if you can, come and have a look. There are many excellent colleges – its your decision. We will keep the home fires burning in case you are accepted into this, our home, Pembroke.
*beauty and charm are subjective concepts that you are welcome to debate with the MCR's philosophers
A lot of incoming graduate students get a room in college. Some rooms are on the main college site (both in the historic bit of Pembroke, as well as in the more modern part of college completed in 2014), but most rooms for postgraduate students are in the the Geoffrey Arthur Building, or “GAB” as it’s referred to. The GAB consists of two garden quads with a computer room, a common room, and a laundry. Everyone stays in a staircase with 5 other people. On the top floor of every staircase there is a kitchen and eating area, and each staircase also has three toilets, two showers, and a bath. Each room also has a sink with taps.
By contrast, the vast majority of MCR members beyond their first year of study live in rented accommodation around Oxford. If living in college does not sounds like your cup of tea, the Facebook group OxGradHousing will have good leads for alternative living arrangements. As with all Facebook housing groups, be aware of possible scams and fake accounts encouraging you to set up accounts on dodgy websites.
How to apply?
Applying for post-graduate study at Oxford University is very different from the undergraduate application process, because your application is first sent to the faculty of your proposed study. This is one of the best things about the Oxford graduate system – you are accepted by the same lecturers and professors who will be teaching and advising you.
Once you are accepted by the faculty and the University, your application is sent to the College. On the application there is a section in which you can give the name of your preferred college (Pembroke!), or, if you want to, you can state that you have no preference. Your accepted application is then circulated to your top-choice first, and they either accept your application, or it is passed onto all the other colleges, and one of them chooses you. If you get accepted by the University then you are guaranteed a place at a College, but it may not be your preferred College.
To obtain an application and for more information on the application process, visit Oxford University’s application homepage.
Many of the post-graduates at Pembroke are here on merit-based scholarships and bursaries. If you want to learn more about the scholarships available, ask the graduate secretary and visit Oxford University’s funding homepage.