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Tea and Coffee

We believe that a friendly, relaxed atmosphere is vital if you want to work efficiently, and as such, we meet at 11.00 am for morning coffee and biscuits. This is normally held in the entrance to the Hoyle Building or outside on the lawn/in the marquees. It is well worth going to so that you can mix with your fellow students and get to know a bit about what they are doing. Most of the department will be there, so it is an ideal way to locate lost or well-concealed supervisors There is also an afternoon tea meeting at 15.30 pm nearly identical to morning coffee. There is no charge for tea and coffee and you will find hot water, sugar and milk in the kitchens if you would like to bring your own speciality tea or coffee pods for the machine in the Hoyle kitchen. There is also instant coffee, hot water and a coffee brewing machine on the lower floor of the Kavli building for use by those whose office is in the Kavli.


There isn’t a canteen at the IoA, the nearest place to buy a range of snacks, food and drink is the West Hub or Café | Greenwich House ( At the far end of JJ Thomson avenue is West Cafe in the Hauser Forum building. Within the Cambridge Sports Centre, there is Caffiend of Cambridge, serving great coffee and cakes. There is also the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS) on Wilberforce Road, if you are over there for a lecture or seminar already.

If you fancy a more substantial lunch, there are a couple of pubs on Huntingdon Road/Castle Street fairly close to the IoA, the Castle Inn being a particular department favourite, and of course the city centre is not that far away.

The Food Park on the West Cambridge and Eddington Sites, has lots of different street food options. Do check the website first as many of the trucks are now pre-orders only.

Churchill College dining hall welcomes visitors from nearby university departments, you can apply for a non-member Student Dining Card by filling out the form (see attachments) and handing it to the cashier in the Dining Hall.  It's best to choose a quiet time to do this. Fitzwilliam College is also open to external students and provides value for money meals which can be paid for with a college card or debit/credit card, they do not accept cash.

There is a medium sized supermarket, Sainsbury's, not too far from the IoA and also a very nice Patisserie - Dulcedo Patisserie. Both are located in the Market Square, Eddington which is about a 12 minute walk or 5 minutes on a bicycle.

The IoA itself has vending machines that sell snacks and drinks. Don’t forget you can sign up for the Bread and Cheese Lunch every Wednesday during Term at 12:30 pm, it is currently free of charge! There are also several small kitchens with a fridge and a microwave, so you can heat up your own food if you bring it. However, the kitchen near the Hoyle reception is only to be used by the catering staff for tea & coffee, and should not be used by students, except for cleaning up after the Thursday colloquium.

Post and Telephones

Mail trays are located in each of the main buildings, both for standard (Royal Mail) post and the University Messenger Service (UMS). The latter is a free service that delivers letters and small parcels between university departments and colleges every weekday.

You can use the IoA mail trays for work-related post and already stamped personal items. The deadline for outgoing post is 16:00 pm each weekday. If you need to arrange for Recorded/Special Delivery of important documents, such as job applications, contact reception.

Incoming mail addressed to you at The Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA, will be delivered to your departmental pigeonhole each weekday morning after tea break. There are sets of pigeonholes in each of the main buildings, yours will be in the building containing your office. UMS mail is collected and delivered to the Hoyle building at 11:00 am each weekday and will be distributed with the post.

Each office has a telephone, shared between all the people in that office. Incoming calls can be made direct to your office number. As with the mail, there are two types of telephone networks, the University has an internal network of 5-digit numbers (which start with either 3 or 6) and calls between numbers on this network are free. If the 5-digit number begins with a 3, add an extra 3 at the beginning to dial it from outside the network, if it begins with a 6 you should add a leading 7.

Personal and business telephone calls can be made from the telephone in your office, although any personal calls must be paid for and will be added to your bill. For calls outside the University network (UK landlines and mobiles), dial 9 first to get an outside line. You will need to dial reception (37548) to make international calls from your office phone.


STFC states that “research students may, with the prior agreement of their supervisors, take up to eight weeks holiday in each year (pro rata for parts of a year), inclusive of public holidays. Leave should not normally be taken during the academic term”. However, this is quite a generous entitlement and students are asked to think carefully about how it would affect their progress before taking extended breaks. In any case, you should always check with your supervisor before making arrangements to be away from the Institute. Do inform Bev at Reception if you are away from the IoA for two days or fewer (this is mainly for fire safety etc). Please discuss longer holidays and absences from the Institute with Debbie Peterson before making any arrangements.