Natural Sciences

Photograph: © University of Cambridge Credit: Nathan Pitt

Natural Sciences at Cambridge

Natural Sciences (NST) is the framework within which most science 'subjects' are taught at Cambridge.

Natural Sciences offers both physical and biological scientists a unique and demanding course that combines a broad first year with increasing specialisation in the second year and total specialisation in the third and, in some disciplines, fourth years. The breadth and flexibility of the Natural Sciences Tripos reflects the blurring of boundaries between the different sciences: biological problems are increasingly being solved using techniques which require an understanding of physics and chemistry, whilst many of the most pressing problems being addressed by physicists, chemists and materials scientists require a knowledge of biology. You are not admitted to the University of Cambridge to read a single subject, but select three subject options plus maths in the first year after which students go on to specialize during the last year or two of your three or four degree course.

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

Natural Sciences at Churchill College

Churchill College has a mission in science and technology, and as such we have a large community of natural scientists, admitting approximately 35 students each year. The College library is extremely well resourced for the Natural Sciences Tripos, and has over thirty fellows across the Natural Sciences. Teaching arrangements in the College follow the university wide supervision system, ensuring that students receive expert guidance and encouragement throughout their time at Churchill College.

At Churchill College we emphasise diverse range of options available to natural scientists from the outset. In the first week of the first term all of our all our Natural Science Freshers (the new students) hear presentations from our Directors of Studies about the range of the seven experimental subjects and computer science before selecting their preferred three. While some new students come to this meeting with a very clear idea about what subjects they intend to take, others may not have not fully made up their minds and can change their minds even at this stage. Having said this most Cambridge scientists think of themselves as being predominantly physical scientists or biological scientists.

Biological Sciences

The College has, over the years, had many eminent biologists in the Fellowship, such as Watson and Crick, Edwards, Gurdon, Ashburner, H.E.Huxley and Keynes. This close association with the most exciting developments in Biology continues with Fellows providing teaching across the three broad themes of biology that can be studied, namely: (a) whole-organism biology, (b) cellular and molecular biology, and (c) human biology. Most people taking biological subjects within the Natural Sciences Tripos will take a three-year degree course; the exceptions are Biochemistry which now offers both Part II and Part III courses in the third and fourth years respectively, and Systems Biology as a Part III option.

Physical Sciences

The majority of students who study the physical sciences – Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and Metallurgy and Geology (Earth Sciences) – will go on to take a four-year course leading to a Master's as well as a Bachelor's degree. We recommend that all students in physical science register for a four-year degree. With a healthy presence in physical sciences in the College and some famous alumni, we have groups of students in the physical sciences that share common interests, leading to a strong tradition of excellence in the College.

'Certainly in my subject Churchill has some of the University’s best teaching Fellows. After an hour with them you really understand the course; no mean feat with Part IB Thermodynamics!’

Richard, Fourth Year, Physics.


The standard entry requirements to Churchill College apply.

Subject pre-requisites

Essential Highly desirable/useful
At least two science/mathematics A Level/IB Higher Levels A third science/mathematics subject to at least AS/IB Standard Level is highly desirable

Standard entry requirements

In addition, it is important to note that:

Written assessments

Cambridge University uses a system of common format written assessments, specifically tailored to each subject. These give us valuable additional evidence of your academic ability, knowledge base, and potential to succeed at Cambridge. For more information about written assessments in this subject, click on:

Written assessments

Written work

Applicants are not required to submit examples of written work.


After submitting your UCAS form the applications are all reviewed and about 90% of all applicants to read Natural Sciences at Churchill College are invited for interview during early-mid December.

There are ordinarily one or two interviews with academic Fellows from the College, where you will be asked about your current studies and related ideas.


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

Admissions Office



Photograph: © University of Cambridge
Credit: Nathan Pitt

Directors of Studies & Fellows in the Natural Sciences

Dr Christopher Tout

Director of Studies - Astrophysics Parts II & III

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Dr Rita Monson

Director of Studies - Biology IB and some of Part II

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Dr Katherine Stott

Director of Studies - Chemistry Parts IA and IB

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Dr Sally Boss

Director of Studies - Chemistry Parts II & III

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Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright

Director of Studies - Physics Parts IA and IB

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Dr Dave Green

Director of Studies - Physics Parts II & III, MASt in Physics and Astrophysics

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Dr Helen Curry

Director of Studies - History & Philosophy of Science

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Dr Eurof Walters

Director of Studies - Maths for Natural Sciences

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Dr Morag Hunter

Director of Studies - Earth Sciences

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Professor Ken Siddle (Biochemistry)

Vice Master & Teaching Fellow

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