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Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

Illustration of cogs as a head

PBS at Cambridge

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.

PBS at Churchill

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. 


Many applicants to PBS will have studied Psychology but you do not need to have done so - indeed, there are no specific subjects that we require. We will consider you if you present qualifications in the humanities or the sciences, or, as is frequently the case, 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 is highly desirable. A Level / IB Higher Level Biology and/or humanities / social science subjects are useful.

For details about potential A Level and IB offer conditions in your target degree, see our Typical Offers webpage and select your course from the University's Course Listing homepage then check out the "Subject Requirements and Typical Offers" link in the Entry Requirements tab.

For other qualifications, see our Typical Offers page.

Admissions assessment

We do not use a common format written admissions assessment in this subject, before or at interview.

Written work

We will ask you to submit two examples of teacher-marked written work on any relevant subject.


If called, you will normally have two interviews: one with subject specialists and the other with a Fellow in a related discipline and/or an Admissions Tutor. You do not need to undertake any special preparation for your interviews, though we do advise that you should be fully familiar with your sixth form (or equivalent) learning and any other material that you have provided as part of your application process. In the interviews, you're likely to be asked some questions about your school or college work, your wider exploration of intellectual matters, and your academic background and interests. More specific questions may also focus on your interest in and awareness of Psychology (though it's important to note that this aspect of your interviews 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 reading from the Department of Psychology:


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

Admissions Office

Directors of Studies & Teaching Fellows

Professor Melissa Hines

Tutor — Social & Developmental Psychology

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