5 Must-Watch Films Set in Cambridge


Date of Publication: 10 April 2020

Can’t wait to explore the quintessential cobbled streets of Cambridge? Spend some time before your course immersing yourself in the beautiful scenery with these 5 films - all featuring part of our beloved city and its university.


1. Chariots of Fire (1981)

It’s impossible to miss the beautiful Cambridge university architecture in this historical drama!

The film depicts the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics – Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams. Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian, runs in dedication to God, while Abrahams, a British Jew has a dedication to the sport which stems from a life full of prejudice.

There are only a few exterior shots of the University of Cambridge, as sensitivity to the film’s accusations of anti-Semitisim at Caius College (Abrahams’ school) led to the refusal of permission to film on its property. Instead, Eton College (which is just north of Windsor) was used instead for the majority of the filming. Still, it’s a great way to learn about two of the university’s great alumni! 


2. The History Boys (2006)

For fans of playwright Alan Bennett, you will love this adaptation of his early noughties play, The History Boys, which features some of the UK’s finest actors, including James Corden, Richard Griffiths, Russell Tovey and Dominic Cooper.

The film tells the story of teachers at a British boys’ grammar school who are preparing their students for their entrance exams to the University of Oxford and Cambridge. A touching but also humorous film, it’s also a great coming of age film with beautiful shots of our beloved Cambridge.



3. The Theory of Everything

Starring the incredibly talented Eddie Redmayne, this touching biopic tells the story of Cambridge local Stephen Hawking – one of the most renowned scientific minds in history – and explores his life as he is diagnosed with motor neuron disease aged just 21. 

With lots of beautiful Cambridge colleges and cobbled streets for its backdrop, the film delves into student life at the University of Cambridge, and shows the romance between Hawking and fellow collegian Jane Wilde – played by the equally talented Felicity Jones.

Throughout the film, we watch Hawking as he defies the odds – both medically and scientifically – taking on an ambitious study of time, whilst himself being predicted by doctors to have very little left.

A heartwarming tale of ambition and dedication, coupled with historic scenery in one of our favourite cities – it’s definitely a must-see! 


4. Sylvia (2003)

Another excellent biopic of one of the University of Cambridge’s famous alumni, Sylvia is the story of a young Sylvia Plath (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), as she’s growing up, determined to become a successful writer whilst battling with her mental health.

A significant part of the film is based at the University of Cambridge, depicting how she met and fell in love with fellow poet Ted Hughes (aka Daniel Craig). Ending in tragedy, it’s a deeply moving film, but one which beautifully portrays the life of the beloved poet.



5. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

Based on the 1991 book of the same title, The Man Who Knew Infinity is a British biographical drama about Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan (played by Dev Patel) who, after growing up poor in Madras, earns entry to the University of Cambridge during WWI. What follows is a pioneering journey of discovery as he discovers groundbreaking mathematical theories, under the guidance of his professor, G. H. Hardy.

Set mainly in Trinity College, located west of the city centre, there are plenty of cobbled streets and renowned architectural monuments to enjoy alongside the story. 

Can’t wait to visit Cambridge and explore the sets for yourself? Take a look at our available Cambridge summer courses and apply to study with us today!

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