Postgraduate accommodation

Download the prospective postgraduate accommodation form for 2023-24 here.

A limited number of rooms in College or in a College house are available to single, full-time postgraduate students in their first year, depending on the date when the College receives notification of a confirmed place from the Postgraduate Admissions Office and subject to availability. Priority will be given only to postgraduates who have special housing needs for reasons of disability or health.

All rooms are furnished, centrally heated and vary in size and outlook.  Rooms are study-bedrooms and many offer en-suite facilities. There are no shared rooms.

All rooms have access to kitchen facilities.  Students will require their own pillows, duvets and bed linen.  It is possible for students to hire bed linen by contacting the Housekeeping Office.

The majority of College accommodation for postgraduates is located on the main College site, with rooms in the Singer Building, Battcock Lodge, Regent Street, 1749 House and in houses on Lensfield Road.  There are also six rooms in the Boathouse.

For detailed accommodation information see our accommodation pages and accommodation information on the MCR website.

Accommodation for first year postgraduate students is allocated by the Accommodation Office, subject to availability and is not guaranteed. An accommodation ballot is held for College accommodation for students in their second and subsequent years.

Couple and family accommodation

The College has very limited accommodation for couples, and for this reason we cannot guarantee a flat will be available during your course of study. If you would like to request accommodation as a couple, please make this clear on your Accommodation Form which must be returned to the Accommodation Officer as soon as possible.

The College has no accommodation suitable for students with children. We strongly advise you not to bring your family to Cambridge until you have arranged and confirmed accommodation for them. 

Students seeking couple or family accommodation are strongly advised to contact the University Accommodation Service.

Step-by-step guide to the accommodation process

  • Application forms for accommodation are emailed with the Downing College offer letter.
  • Choose the price band of accommodation most suitable for you.
  • Return your completed Accommodation Application form to the Accommodation Officer as soon as possible. 
  • Rooms are allocated only once the College has received notification of a confirmed place from the Graduate Admissions Office, if the Accommodation Officer is in receipt of your accommodation application form and subject to availability and therefore not guaranteed.
  • Read the Allocation Policy below.
  • Check how accommodation offers are made.
  • Accept your accommodation offer.
  • A Residential Agreement will be emailed to you.
  • Return a signed copy of your Residential Agreement to the Accommodation Office.

Accommodation allocation policy

Every effort is made to place students in their preferred rent band. We will consider all the information given on the application form including the student’s stated preferences and the rent applicable to their choice. Accommodation is allocated subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed, and to candidates who:

  • have a confirmed place (all conditions of the offer have been met)
  • are unaccompanied
  • have firmly accepted (with the College) an offer of study
  • are new, full-time students in their first year of study at Downing
  • will be starting their studies by October
  • will be here for a full academic year
  • have returned a completed accommodation application form

All allocations of postgraduate accommodation will be made by the Accommodation Office. Priority will be given only to postgraduates who have special housing needs for reasons of disability or health.

The Accommodation Office will allocate spaces fairly and without bias, basing the decision solely upon the information provided by the applicant on the application form. Postgraduates who are unhappy with their allocation will be given the opportunity to join a transfer waiting list after their residency has started.

Postgraduate allocation via the Accommodation Office

The Accommodation Office will allocate rooms ONLY to those candidates who have:

  • had their admission confirmed by the University and
  • returned their completed accommodation application form to the Accommodation Office. 

Three priority categories

The Accommodation Officer will allocate rooms, once the two conditions above are met, in TWO waves and prioritised in the following order (categories 1 to 3 below): ​​​​​​​

  1. International students with no experience of living in Cambridge (highest priority)
  2. Home students with no experience of living in Cambridge 
  3. Home or International students with experience of living in Cambridge

Students with medical needs will be accommodated outside of these priority categories based on their specific need, 

The first wave of allocation will occur during Easter Term (typically this occurs at the end of May).

  • Half of the rooms available for allocation by the Accommodation Office (typically around 50 rooms) will be made available in this first wave for category 1 and 2 students.
  • Any rooms not allocated to category 1 and 2 students at this point will be added to the second wave of allocation.  
  • Category 3 students will not be considered until the second wave.

The second wave of allocation will occur in the long vacation (typically this occurs around the end of July).

  • In this second wave the remaining rooms for allocation via the Accommodation Office will be made available.
  • These rooms will be allocated based on the priority categories 1 to 3 above. A category 1 student, for example, who is only confirmed by the University in time for the second wave would take precedence over a category 3 student who has been waiting since the first wave.  

Within each of the three category groups, students are ordered by the date that their conditions are confirmed as met to Downing College (provided those students have also returned their accommodation form). A category 3 student in the first wave, for example, would be higher within the category than students only confirmed by the second wave.   

After the second wave of room allocation, all incoming rooms will likely be filled. 

What happens if I don't get allocated a College room?

Any students who have been unsuccessful in obtaining College accommodation will be contacted by the Accommodation Office by the end of July, which leaves two months before the beginning of the academic year.

  • The MCR can provide useful information on how to source private accommodation in the City.
  • Postgraduate students can join the Postgraduate Accommodation waiting list. 

Offer holders confirmed after the second wave of room allocations will be informed and offered the chance to join the College accommodation waiting list. Students in categories 1 and 2 will be prioritised to the top of the waiting list.  

How accommodation offers are made

  • All offers are sent by email. We advise students holding unconditional offers to check their email at least twice each week.
  • You will usually have seven days to accept your offer. We cannot promise that you will receive an offer of a room in the rent band that you applied for, but we will always do our best to make an offer that is suitable for you.

The accommodation offer

The emailed offer may be PDF or Word format and can be up to 70Kb in size. Please make sure that there is enough space in your in-box to receive this message. Your email offer will comprise a letter giving details of the room offered and the rent band. Once you have accepted this a Residential Agreement will be emailed to you for signature.

Please contact the Accommodation Officer by email or on 01223 762063 if you have any further queries.