Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

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PBS at Cambridge

PBS is a new course at Cambridge that focuses on the full range of topics in psychology. 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 the first year students take four papers, two of which (Introduction to Psychology and Psychological Inquiry and Methods) are compulsory. The remaining two papers are chosen from a diverse selection of options, such as 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, students 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. Third year students 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.

PBS at Churchill

We anticipate admitting 2-3 PBS students each year. Churchill has a strong reputation for teaching in the sciences. PBS undergraduates at the College will also have the opportunity to interact with students from related disciplines in the arts, notably HSPS (Human, Social and Political Sciences), Linguistics and Philosophy.

Churchill College is fortunate to have two Directors of Studies/Teaching Fellows in PBS - Professor Melissa Hines and Dr Helena Rubinstein. Professor Melissa Hines is Professor of Psychology and Director of the University's Hormones and Behaviour Research Lab and PBS Teaching Fellow at Churchill. 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. Dr Helena Rubinstein specialises in social and health psychology and is currently investigating adherence to treatment regimens during pandemic flu outbreaks.


Many applicants to PBS will have studied psychology. However, a previous qualification in psychology is not essential for entry; indeed, there are no specific subjects that we require. We will consider applicants presenting qualifications in the humanities or sciences (or, frequently, a combination of both). We are looking for candidates with a strong academic track record, excellent critical thinking skills and an intellectual engagement with the discipline.

Subject pre-requisites

Essential Highly desirable/useful
No specific subjects A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics or Biology are highly desirable. An A Level/IB Higher Level humanities/social science subject is useful

Standard entry requirements

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 required to submit two pieces of written work on any relevant subject.


We interview the majority of applicants. Typically, candidates have two interviews: one with a subject specialist and the other with a Fellow in a related discipline and/or an Admissions Tutor. Candidates do not need to undertake any special preparation for the interview, though we do advise that all applicants are fully familiar with their Sixth Form (or equivalent) learning and any other material that has been provided as part of the application process. In the interviews, candidates are likely to be asked some questions about their school or college work, their wider exploration of intellectual matters and their academic background and interests. More specific questions may also focus on the candidate's interest in, and awareness of, the discipline of psychology (this aspect of the interview will not require any prior factual knowledge).


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 for prior reading by the Department of Psychology:


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

Admissions Office

Directors of Studies & Teaching Fellows

Dr Miha Constantinescu

Director of Studies (first and second years only)

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Dr Sander van der Linden

Incoming Director of Studies

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Professor Melissa Hines

Tutor — Social & Developmental Psychology

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