Psychology is a diverse discipline and this is reflected in the PBS course, which covers developmental, biological, cognitive, and social psychological approaches to topics such as psychopathology, language, perception, gender, family relationships, brain mechanisms, personality and group interactions, amongst other topics. There also is the opportunity to look at these topics from the perspective of other disciplines, notably anthropology, linguistics, philosophy and sociology.

In your first year, you would take four papers, two of which (Introduction to Psychology and Psychological Inquiry and Methods) are compulsory. You’d choose the remaining two papers from a diverse selection, including Biological Anthropology, Sociology, Politics, Social Anthropology, Computer Science and Philosophy (refer to the University Prospectus for further details of optional papers). In the second year, you will take four papers, two of which, Social Psychology and either Biology and Cognition or Experimental Psychology, are compulsory, with two additional papers again chosen from a wide range of options. In third year, you would undertake a research dissertation in addition to three optional papers.

Full details are provided on the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos website, and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

We aim to admit two or three PBS students each year. Churchill has a strong reputation for teaching in the sciences but you would also have many opportunities to interact with students from related disciplines in the arts, notably HSPS (Human, Social and Political Sciences), Linguistics, and Philosophy.

Dr Sander van der Linden is Director of Studies in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences for Churchill College, University Lecturer in Social Psychology, and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making lab. His research concerns social norms and influence and human judgment and decision-making. Professor Melissa Hines is Professor of Psychology and Director of the University’s Hormones and Behaviour Research Lab. Melissa is one of the world’s leading experts on human gender development, focusing particularly on the interaction between biological and social factors in gender development.


Psychology has a wide range of applications including graduate study in professional Psychology, such as Clinical or Occupational Psychology, teaching, management consulting, banking, journalism and the civil service.

There are a series of talks on careers available to graduates from the PBS Tripos that will assist students in thinking about their future careers.

Reading list

The following books are recommended reading from the Department of Psychology:

  • Pinker, S (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking)
  • Kahneman, D (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)
  • Hrdy, S (2011). Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding (Harvard University Press)
  • Damasio, A. (2010). Self comes to mind: constructing the conscious brain. (Vintage Books)
  • LeDoux, J (2003). Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (Penguin)


For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office