The University of Cambridge is the world’s second-oldest university as well as the UK’s second-oldest academic institution. It has a rich and illustrious history stretching back to the 13th century in history. Today, the University of Cambridge is one of the most highly renowned and top-ranking universities (QS World University Rankings 2023 of #2) around the world. Being a more than 800-year-old top-tier epitome of world-class quality education, it has successfully given birth to some of the brightest brains like Issac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, and many more. Let’s discover some of the famous University of Cambridge’s notable alumni!
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Did you know: The city of Cambridge itself dates back as early as the Bronze Age. Archaeological evidence shows that the village has existed from prehistoric times, however, the name “Cambridge” does not appear until the Middle Ages.
History of Cambridge
Oxford University and the University of Cambridge have been engaged in an unspoken but healthy competition to be among the world’s top five institutions. This healthy competition may be traced back to their origins since they share many customs and even history. In 1209, a group of academics and professors left Oxford due to political strife and a dispute with the townspeople and founded Cambridge University. Later, King Henry III granted it a Royal Charter in 1231. The two institutions have maintained a friendly connection via different traditions including the Annual Boat Race, and they are collectively known as the ‘Oxbridge.’
Cambridge University Notable Alumni List
Here is a quick list of some of the most popular University of Cambridge alumni:
- Isaac Newton
- Stephen Hawking
- Stephen Fry
- Hugh Laurie
- Dame Emma Thompson
- Naomie Harris
- James Cracknell OBE
- Charles, Prince of Wales
- Dan Stevens
- Rachel Weisz
- Sacha Baron Cohen
- Lily Cole
- John Cleese
- Mike Atherton
- Andy Hamilton
- Robert Oppenheimer
- Alan Turing
- Ian McKellen
- James Chadwick
- Rajiv Gandhi
- Robert Frost
- Ernest Rutherford
- Rupert Brooke
- Subhash Chandra Bose
- Homi J. Bhabha
- Har Gobind Khorana
- Salman Rushdie
- Jagadish Chandra Bose
- Amartya Sen
Did you know: Cambridge University has received more Nobel Prizes than any other university. The Cambridge University notable alumni have won 32 Nobel Prizes in Physics alone (although affiliates have received Nobel Prizes in every category).
Let’s know about some of these people in detail from the above list of University of Cambridge alumni:
One of the most famous Cambridge University alumni. Born in 1643, Sir Isaac Newton was a student at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, before he became renowned for discovering gravity. He studied Advanced Mathematics, as well as Optics and Mechanics, throughout his stay at the college. He published several papers as a student that were well-received by the science community. Many of us don’t even know that his early work and research on gravitational forces was originally rejected, and it took a long time for them to gain hold. He gifted the world and the field of Science his 3 laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation – which characterized gravity as a universal force that impacted all things or objects in the universe.
Also read about MBA at Cambridge
Another one of the greatest scientists of all time in the University of Cambridge’s notable alumni list is none other than Stephen Hawking. After earning a first-class honors degree at the University of Oxford, Hawking went on to Cambridge to pursue a PhD in Cosmology, which he accomplished despite being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21 only. He was a Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge from 1979 to 2009 and is considered one of the world’s most prominent theoretical physicists and cosmologists. His best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, established his reputation as one of the most articulate communicators in the field of Science.
Did you know: The discovery of DNA was announced at the Eagle pub in Cambridge. On February 28th, 1953, Cambridge scientists Francis Crick and James Watson entered The Eagle Pub to reveal that DNA carries genetic information.
Dame Emma Thompson
The incredibly talented Dame Emma Thompson is another star on the University of Cambridge alumni list. Thompson is one of the finest actresses in the UK. With her stunning performances, she has won several awards, including 2 Academy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, 3 BAFTA Awards, 2 Golden Globe Awards and more. She got enrolled in Newnham College, the University of Cambridge to pursue an English degree, which she finished with upper second-class honours and even received a scholarship afterwards.
Read about Gates Cambridge Scholarship!
James Hugh Laurie
James Hugh Laurie CBE is an English actor best known for his role as the main character on the Fox medical drama series House, for which he has won 2 Golden Globe Awards and has earned countless nominations. He was once one of the highest-paid performers in the television industry and was included in the 2011 Guinness World Records as the most-watched leading male actor on television. Laurie gained popularity soon after creating a comedy duo with his friend Stephen Fry, who he met through a common classmate Emma Thompson at Cambridge. Laurie has been included in our honorary list of Cambridge alumni. He graduated from Selwyn College in 1978, where he studied Archaeology and Anthropology.
Stephen Fry is an English actor, comedian, writer, and an incredibly famous Cambridge University alumni. Fry was offered a scholarship to Queen’s College for Matriculation in autumn 1978, after briefly teaching at a preparatory school before taking his place. At Cambridge, Fry pursued a degree in English, graduating with upper second-class honours. Fry also met his future comedy duo Hugh Laurie at Cambridge and starred alongside him in the Footlights.
Also read about Cambridge Trust Scholarship!
Did you know: There are nearly 100 libraries at Cambridge University! This includes the University Library, which, as a legal deposit library, has the right to a copy of every book produced in the United Kingdom.
The Royal Family of the UK has a history of attending the University of Cambridge. Charles, Prince of Wales is one such member of the Royal Family in the long list of University of Cambridge notable alumni. The next heir to the British throne after Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles was born in Buckingham Palace and completed his schooling at Cheam and Gordonstoun, the same school which his father had gone to as a child. He also spent a year at Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop campus in Australia. He served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen, better known as Borat, Bruno, or Ali G, is another gem on our list of the University of Cambridge notable alumni. He is a well-known actor, comedian, and writer, most known for the three fictional characters he created to satirize the responses of the general population. He has received many Emmy nominations, an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, a BAFTA award, and a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in 2006 for his role in the feature film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for the Benefit of Kazakhstan. During his time at Cambridge, he majored in History at Christ’s College and graduated with honors in 1993. Baron-Cohen was also a member of the Footlights at Cambridge and appeared in Fiddler on the Roof and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Did you know: In Cambridge, the first-ever game of football was played following Association rules. These regulations are based on the so-called “Cambridge Rules,” which were originally employed in 1848 on Parker’s Piece in Cambridge.
Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist who is most remembered for his contributions to evolution research. His theory that all living things originated from common ancestors is now generally recognized and regarded as a fundamental scientific principle. He proposed his scientific idea that this branching pattern of evolution stemmed from a mechanism he called natural selection, in which the battle for existence has a comparable impact as the artificial selection involved in selective breeding, in a joint paper with Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin was hailed as one of the most significant characters in human history, and his death was commemorated with a burial at Westminster Abbey.
Alan Mathison Turing was a mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist from the United Kingdom. With the Turing machine, which may be regarded as a model of a general-purpose computer, Turing had a significant impact on the development of theoretical computer science, offering a formalization of the ideas of algorithm and computation. Turing is regarded as the founder of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
Hiddleston, Thomas William, is an English actor. He has received several awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe Award and a Laurence Olivier Award, as well as two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Tony Award nomination.
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was a politician in India who served as the country’s sixth prime minister from 1984 until 1989. After his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, he became India’s youngest prime minister at the age of 40.
Emma Thompson is a British actor, screenwriter, producer, campaigner, author, and comedian who was born in the United Kingdom. She has received several awards, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, a British Academy Television Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award. She is one of Britain’s most celebrated actors.
Dame Emma Thompson
James Cracknell OBE
Charles, Prince of Wales
The University of Cambridge has been ranked #2 by the QS World University Rankings 2023.
Tom Hiddleston and Emma Thompson studies at the University of Cambridge.
The University of Cambridge has been home to many international stars who brought fame to the esteemed institution! Want to study abroad at your dream university? Reach out to Leverage Edu at 1800572000 and let our experts assist and guide you through the process of making your dream into reality