"She read biology at Cambridge." That doesn't mean 'she read a book or something about biology at Cambridge'?
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No, it certainly relates to the overall course of study at a particular University, which may be comprised of many other courses in order to be conferred a degree at a given institution. The concept of "majoring" is rarely considered in the UK; for one, the University system and the requirements for the courses offered for study are very different to most US colleges, and one does not typically describe themselves as having majored in a particular subject area.
In addition, the term "read" would typically be reserved for those who have completed a course of study at one of the so-called red brick Universities. Many other Universities exist which converted from polytechnics a while back, but most speakers of British English would not use the term "read" to refer to studying a course at one of those institutions. However, for Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and so on, it is certainly appropriate terminology which is in common use. This will, of course, vary from person to person.