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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Cambridge, England
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring, Year
  • Budget Sheets: Spring
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Language Prerequisite: No previous study
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.75 Credit Available For: College
Other Eligibility Requirements: A- in Major/Concentration, Min. 3 College Level Courses in Major Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Housing Options: University Residence Hall/Apartment Application Deadline: Fall/Year: February 1, Spring: April 1
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

BCU LogoUniversity of Cambridge: Pembroke College

Pembroke College, founded in 1347, is the third oldest of the Cambridge colleges and has graduated public servants, businessmen, jurists, inventors, musicians, poets, prelates, reformers, scholars and scientists of remarkable, international influence. Today, Pembroke has about 440 undergraduate students and enjoys a reputation for spirit, openness and close interaction among members of its community. Students are expected to carry out a great deal of work on their own, requiring outstanding motivation and enthusiasm for their subjects. The university has rich resources but it is up to students to take the initiative and utilize them.
Each year, Pembroke College accepts a limited number of students from overseas universities for a semester of study comprised of either the Michaelmas term (Fall semester), or for the second (Lent) and third (Easter) terms (Spring semester) of the Cambridge academic year. Competition for places is stiff. The program is also unique for its full immersion into the life and culture of Cambridge, as students live in the same accommodation, take the same lectures, and participate in the same extracurricular activities alongside full-time Cambridge students.
For additional information, visit the Pembroke College website.
The City of Cambridge

Cambridge is a true university town located about 50 miles north of London. Of the city’s 125,000 residents, more than one-fifth are students. Though known for its academics, the city also boasts unique theater, art, and festivals. The university’s 100+ libraries – including Central Cambridge University Library, which houses more than 8 million volumes – make the city an ideal place for bookworms, students, and researchers.

Did you know…?                 

The Cam River runs through Cambridge, and many people participate in punting, a type of boating in which the craft is propelled by pushing against the river bed by a pole.

Cambridge University is home to The Mathematical Bridge (official name, the Wooden Bridge) which is a bridge that connects two halves of Queen’s College and was the first bridge built strictly using mathematical principles. Despite legends, it was not designed by Sir Issac Newton, as he died 22 years before it was conceived of.



The program at the University of Cambridge’s Pembroke College is for College credit only.

There are a limited number of spots for Penn students at Pembroke College. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so students are encouraged to apply early. All candidates should identify a second choice program.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.75

Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Successful completion of at least 3 college-level courses in major by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure. 

Other Requirements: Must have at least A- in major/concentration

Completion of at least two full years of undergraduate study by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure is required.


Language of Instruction


Terms Available

This program is for the Spring or Fall semester only; the full year is not available.

Pembroke College Academic Calendar


Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level. A full course load at Pembroke College consists of two papers per semester. 

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.
Most Cambridge degrees have two sections, known as Part I and Part II. Students on the Semester Program can generally choose courses from both Parts. Cambridge is about depth: this program should not be used as a way of fulfilling general requirements, and therefore students are expected to take courses in the subject area of their major.
Students select two Papers, one in each of the two terms which comprise the semester. There are certain limitations to the courses available to Semester Program Visiting students: some courses are suitable only for candidates with considerable previous training, while other papers may be unviable if vital lectures are delivered in the alternate term. In addition, students should note that they cannot take courses in natural sciences, engineering, mathematics, computer science, foreign languages, law, classics, music, management or geography.
Once you are admitted to the programme you will receive advice on how to choose your courses. A list of courses can be found on the relevant faculty and department websites. Please visit the academics page for more information.
Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  For more on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Grades are reported to Penn on the Cambridge scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
Cambridge Grade Penn Grade
70-100 A
65-69 A-
60-64 B+
55-59 B
50-54 B-
45-49 C+
40-44 C
0-39 F

Special Features

BCU Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by Pembroke College prior to the start of each semester. More information will be distributed upon program acceptance.

Group Excursions

Excursions and activities are organized by the Cornell Brown Penn UK Centre.

Personal Tutor

As a semester student, you will be assigned to a personal Tutor, 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.

Student Associations

BCU Special FeaturesPenn students studying at Pembroke College have access to a wide range of student activities and clubs and societies. Cambridge University also offers many clubs and societies.

Students are also encouraged to join the Cambridge Students’ Union.

May Week

For students participating in the Spring Semester Programm, the week following the last week of Easter Term is called May Week. Semester students are strongly advised to take advantage of this week, which is famous for its sumptuous balls and garden parties, and to stay until the following Friday.


BCU CampusParticipants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

All undergraduates are required to be in residence for the duration of each term. All visiting students are allocated college accommodation in Pembroke College or another Cambridge College that has agreed to provide College facilities for students participating in the Pembroke semester scheme. Nearly all rooms in College are single study bedrooms, and none are shared. Most have heating and wash-basins with direct access to baths and/or showers and a small kitchen. Simple cooking is allowed, but the facilities are not elaborate.

All meals (breakfast, lunch, supper) are available in Hall. None are compulsory and most are self-service. At lunch and buffet supper there is a choice of main course, as well as soup, salads, pudding, yogurt, fruit and coffee. A three-course set dinner is also served in the evening. Vegetarian meals are always available, and other dietary regimes can be accommodated.

Further information can be found here

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets


Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

AASAP/UK Lord Acton Memorial Scholarship: Merit-based scholarship awarded to the applicant who demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of the value of an international educational experience and who agrees to share how the scholarship helped to fulfil their academic and personal ambitions. The award is £500 for a semester abroad or £1,000 for a full year.

BUTEX offers eight scholarships to North American students studying at a university in the United Kingdom. The value of each scholarship is £500 and will be paid to the winners once they have arrived and registered at their host university. Interested students should contact the appropriate Global Programs Manager in the Penn Abroad office.

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Cambridge, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.