Skip to main content

Academic matters

Help and guidance for students

Directors of Studies

The two senior members of College with whom you will probably have the most contact will be your Director of Studies and your Tutor. By the end of your time here you should know at least these two people quite well and they are the obvious people to ask for references when you come to apply for jobs.

As implied in their title, Directors of Studies oversee the overall programme of a student’s work. They see their students at the beginning and end of each term to discuss their progress, and they arrange for their supervision.

They are available to see their students at regular times during Full Term and you are advised to keep checking your email for any messages or information from them.

More information about Directors of Studies can be found here


Attendance at supervisions which have been arranged is one of the most central requirements for all undergraduates. If there is a genuine reason why you will not be able to make a supervision, you must contact your Supervisor well in advance. In the case of sudden illness, you should try to get a message through; if asked, Tutors will always contact your Director of Studies and Supervisors. Students who fail to turn up for a supervision without sufficient warning or explanation will be charged the cost of the missed supervision(s). Persistent failure to attend supervisions will be reported to the College Council and is likely to result in more serious disciplinary action.

Study Skills

Your Director of Studies, our Bye-Fellow for Study Skills and the Librarian are able to help you develop and enhance the study skills you have already. Our Moodle site “Studying at Girton” also has lots of useful information and tips. As a student you should be enrolled on this site but if you cannot see “Studying at Girton” on your list of courses let your DoS know. You will also find lots of useful sessions and information offered by the Girton Skills Programme.  


Your annual examination entry will be completed in conjunction with your Director of Studies at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term.

The checking of examination entries is your responsibility and any fine for an incorrect entry levied by the University will be passed on directly to the student concerned.

Should it ever be necessary, the cost of typing illegible scripts is the responsibility of the student concerned. (Any student with dyslexia or writing difficulties should see his or her Tutor as early as possible.)

Results of University examinations are expressed as a class 1st, 2i, 2ii, 3rd or fail. The proportion of students falling into each category and the marks required varies between subjects but the expectation of College is that all students admitted to Girton are capable of obtaining a 2i and their aim should be to achieve this or better. Further details can be obtained from your Director of Studies.

Students who gain a third will be asked to attend an interview with the Senior Tutor, Director of Studies and Tutor, to explain their poor performance.

Any undergraduate who fails a University examination will automatically be sent down (i.e. sent out of College and the University), unless the Director of Studies and Tutor concerned successfully make a special case to the College Council. 


“Plagiarism is defined as submitting as one’s own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement[; or, in the case of self-plagiarism, unless explicitly permitted by regulation, submitting one’s own work that has already been submitted for assessment to satisfy the requirements of any other academic qualification, or submitted for publication without due acknowledgement]1. It is both poor scholarship and a breach of academic integrity.” Source

It is an important aspect of academic integrity to cite all sources on which you base your work (even if it is not copied directly from them), be they published in hard copy or web based. Your supervisor may ask you to do this for written work produced during the year, and this can be useful for your subsequent revision.1

  • General university guidelines can be found here. There are links here to pages on how to get support, reference and study skills and what is involved in discipline and detection. It is important you familiarise yourself with these and ask questions if in any doubt.
  • Faculty guidelines can be found here 

It is important to be aware of faculty and departmental specific guidelines as, to quote directly for the university statement on plagiarism cited above, “Acceptable means of acknowledging the work of others (by referencing, in footnotes, or otherwise) vary according to the subject matter and mode of assessment.” For example, in the Natural Sciences Tripos full citation is not expected in written unseen examinations such as those taken at the end of the year, but is expected in all submitted and examined coursework.

  • Guidance for students is available here and links therein.

Note that the use of essays purchased from any source or copied from other students is unacceptable regardless of whether the source is acknowledged. If you still have questions, you should talk to your supervisors and /or Director of Studies and/or the course organiser. You are strongly encouraged to do this if you have any doubts. Avoiding plagiarism is an important skill to master and you should not have any inhibitions in asking for help.

Any instance of plagiarism in examined work will be treated very seriously – see below.

Discipline regulation 6 of the University of Cambridge reads:

“No candidate shall make use of unfair means in any University examination. Unfair means shall include plagiarism* and, unless such possession is specifically authorized, the possession of any book, paper or other material relevant to the examination. No member of the University shall assist a candidate to make use of such unfair means.”

If in doubt ask for help.

Academic Dress

All undergraduates and graduates in statu pupillari are subject to the University Ordinance regarding the wearing of academical dress, which is as follows: “members of the University in statu pupillari shall be required to wear their proper academical dress when attending University ceremonies in the University Church or in the Senate House, and at all other times which the Vice-Chancellor may by public notice direct that academic dress be worn”.

Academical dress means the gown appropriate for an undergraduate or graduate. When academical dress is required by Ordinance, it is NOT sufficient merely to carry a gown, as opposed to wearing one. As well as on the occasions mentioned, gowns are also worn when calling on any University office in his/her official capacity.

In College, gowns are worn in College Chapel, for formal meals in Hall (these being meals at which service is provided), and for official College lectures and other public occasions of which notice is given.


The gown for undergraduates must be of Girton College pattern, i.e. of the standard pattern but with the sleeve sewn up, for a length of eight inches from the shoulder. The only headdress permissible to be worn with the gown is a square cap. It is not compulsory to purchase, or at any time wear a square cap.

Affiliated Students

Affiliated students have undergraduate status in Cambridge although they are graduates of other universities. They are therefore required to wear the Girton undergraduate gown. Gowns of other universities are NOT permitted.

Dress worn with Academic Dress

Students are expected to wear suitable clothes with the gown on any occasion when academical dress is demanded. Except for being presented with degrees, suitable clothes for men is taken as a suit with shirt, collar and tie, or trousers, blazer or sports jacket and collar and tie. Although Cambridge these days is very much more informal than it used to be, you will, during your time here, have to attend some formal occasions and at least two formal dinners. Dinner suits are preferred for formal dinners; but an ordinary dark suit will normally be adequate. You will therefore need an ordinary lounge suit and a dinner suit at some stage during your time at Girton.

For women, the wearing of smart, dark trousers (definitely not jeans) with a gown is allowed on most formal occasions. However there are special regulations concerning the dress to be worn in the Senate House when being presented for a degree. This dress is notified at the time when you are proceeding to the degree.

College Governance

Girton College policies, rules and regulations

Discover more