All students at the University must belong to a College. Each of the 31 Colleges forms a separate community and its members represent most of the academic subjects. Colleges are independent of the University faculties and departments. The College fulfils a number of roles for any student, including providing a social structure, (non-academic) tutorial care, and frequently accommodation. In the case of undergraduates, the Colleges are also responsible for admitting a student to the University, directing the student's study, and arranging certain kinds of teaching (notably supervisions, as tutorials are called in Cambridge).
Although postgraduate admissions are a matter for the Board of Graduate Studies, on the recommendation of the Department, postgraduate students must nonetheless also be admitted to a College. The postgraduate application form for the MPhil or PhD) therefore lists the Colleges and asks applicants to express a rank-ordered preference for four. An offer of admission by the University does not automatically guarantee a place at a College but in practice acceptance by a College is largely a formality. The choice of College is entirely a matter for the applicant, though members of the Department of German and Dutch will be happy to give advice. Applicants new to Cambridge may wish to bear in mind that some Colleges admit only postgraduate students (Clare Hall, Darwin, Hughes Hall, St. Edmund's; Wolfson College admits mainly graduate students) and some admit only women (New Hall, Newnham; Lucy Cavendish admits only women aged over 21 who are returning to higher education). There may be some advantage in choosing a College to which a member of the Department or someone otherwise concerned with German or Dutch is affiliated, but there is no reason not to apply to other colleges. For further information please consult the University of Cambridge Graduate Studies Prospectus.