If you’re fascinated by science and keen to explore the subject before you specialise, this fast-moving course is for you. Learn from leaders in their field at a university internationally recognised for top quality research in the physical and biological sciences.
- Why study Natural Sciences at Christ's?
- Course content and structure
- What do our students think?
- What are we looking for?
- How to apply
- Helpful resources
- Open Days and Online Events
- Need more information?
Why study Natural Sciences at Christ's?
Christ's College has an illustrious history in Natural Sciences. Many top scientists have studied and worked here, including the legendary Charles Darwin, three Nobel Prize winners and many of today's most influential researchers. Enter Christ’s today and you join a vibrant science community of undergraduates, graduate students and Fellows.
The Darwin Society, our undergraduate science society, arranges a lively social calendar which includes an annual dinner and a garden party. On the scientific side, the society holds days to help local sixth-formers understand evolution and arranges interesting talks in College. It also created the fascinating Charles Darwin and Evolution website. You’ll also find plenty of Christ's students at university-wide clubs such as the CU Biological Society.
Course content and structure
Natural Sciences at Cambridge lets you study a wide range of subjects before you go on to specialise in a single topic in the later years. This means you get to explore a broad spectrum of interests as well as develop expertise in one aspect of science, which can be a real advantage for your future career.
The Natural Sciences course (or ‘tripos’) is a three or four-year degree. Please visit the University website for full details of the Natural Sciences course content and structure.
Christ’s central location is very handy for Natural Scientists, as most of your lectures take place a short walk or bike ride away. As well as lectures, practical classes and field trips organised by the University, you have weekly ‘supervisions’ here at College. These small-group tutorial sessions give you the advantage of personally-tailored tuition from active scientists researching a diverse range of subjects.
You have the chance to work in a real research laboratory and pursue exciting discoveries of your own. And if your work is very high quality, your name might end up listed on a published paper.
Directors of Studies
Dr Tom Monie Director of Studies for Biological Natural Sciences
Dr Mike Housden Director of Studies for Physical Sciences
We also appoint a specialist Director of Studies for each subject in the Natural Sciences course.
Christ's fellows in Natural Sciences
What do our students think?
Read about the experiences of students who are studying Natural Sciences here at Christ’s:
- Natural Sciences (Biological): James, Charlotte, Arqum, Adam, Imogen, Ryan, Xin-Yi and Hannah.
- Natural Sciences (Physical): Elisavet, Eddie, Shadab, Ellie and Stratis.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for enthusiastic, motivated, gifted science students from all backgrounds. The admissions process is designed to provide all applicants with a level playing field. While we do expect you to have a good understanding of the syllabus you are studying, we are more interested in your enthusiasm and your ability to reason and think for yourselves.
How to Apply
Visit How to Apply for full details and a timeline of the application process. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and school types, all over the world. If you’re applying from outside the UK, please read our international students section.
|If you are applying this year for October 2022 (or deferred Oct 23) please go to the information in the current applicants section.|
Biological or Physical Sciences?
You should select Natural Sciences on your UCAS form (code BCF0). You’ll then be asked on the additional questionnaire(s) which option you wish to study:
Read more about these choices at Undergraduate Natural Sciences admission information.
Please note that both Biological and Physical Sciences students can choose from the full range of first year options. If you intend to specialise in Chemistry, you can follow either the Biological or Physical Sciences pathway.
Subjects: What do you need?
Almost all successful applicants for Biological Natural Sciences at Christ's have three Science/Maths A-levels (or equivalent), including Mathematics and Chemistry. We will in principle consider applicants without A-level Chemistry, and applicants offering only two Science/Maths A-levels, but would expect such applicants to provide a clear rationale for their A-level subject choices. We have not in recent years accepted an applicant without A-level Maths. Note that A-level Biology is not a pre-requisite for the study of Biological Natural Sciences, and that students intending to specialise in Chemistry can follow either this pathway or the Physical Natural Sciences pathway on entry.
In recent years, all successful applicants for Physical Natural Sciences at Christ's have had three Science/Maths A-levels (or equivalent), including Mathematics and either Chemistry or Physics. We would expect you to achieve an A* in A level Mathematics, or for IB students a Grade 7 in Higher Level Mathematics (Analysis and Approaches). Whilst we do not require any formal qualification in Further Mathematics, applicants who have undertaken either AS-level Further Mathematics or some equivalent study of Mathematics beyond their A-level curriculum are likely to be more competitive than those who have not. Note that students with A-level Chemistry will have a broader choice of options during the first year of the degree programme than those offering Physics as their only experimental Science.
NB. We require students taking science A-levels to complete and pass the practical assessment.
If you want to apply for Natural Sciences and are studying for qualifications other than A-levels, please contact the Admissions Office for advice on the subject combinations to take.
Pre-interview Admissions Assessment
Applicants for Natural Sciences at Cambridge must sit a pre-interview admissions assessment called the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA). This will take place in your school, college or local testing centre in early November. The Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment examines your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, and forms part of our holistic admissions process: there is no set score that we are looking for. The same assessment is used regardless of which College you have applied to. When applying, it is important to be aware of the registration and assessment dates:
- Natural Sciences applicants must be registered to take the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA). Ideally be registered by 1 October. See how to be registered.
Please note that open centres may set an earlier deadline for accepting entries, and it is your responsibility to check if this applies at your centre.
- Natural Sciences applicants sit the NSAA in early November.
Information about the assessment including example papers and subject content is available on the University Admissions website from March each year, and further advice is available in the resources section below.
If we invite you for interviews, these usually take place in early December. Those invited for Cambridge interviews are normally interviewed for 35-50 minutes in total. At Christ’s, we usually split the time into two interviews with academics in Natural Sciences during which you are likely to be asked one or more problem-solving questions in addition to more general questions. The aim of the interviews is to determine applicants' potential to benefit from the Natural Sciences course. This is not the same as factual knowledge, or even necessarily past scholastic achievement: interviewers are more concerned to identify motivation and intellectual potential. The interviews have no fixed format but might include, for example, discussion of aspects of school coursework, or being presented with a science question in an unfamiliar guise and being encouraged to think it through. Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section.
We also hold interviews in a number of locations overseas. If this may be relevant for you, please see the international students section .
Christ's College does not have fixed quotas of places for different subjects and the exact numbers admitted in any one year will depend upon the strengths of the fields of applicants in various subjects. However, Christ's aim is to admit around 24 to 30 students each year in Natural Sciences.
You need to be academically ambitious: conditional offers are likely to be minimum A*A*A at A-level, and for IB candidates 42 points overall, with 7,7,6 in relevant Higher Level subjects, but the majority of Christ’s students arrive with higher grades. If you are applying for Natural Sciences (Physical), we would normally ask you to achieve an A* in A-level Mathematics, or a Grade 7 in Higher Level Mathematics (Analysis and Approaches) if you are doing the IB. Please note that we require A-level students to complete and pass the practical assessment in science subjects.
If you are studying in another system we would expect you to be working at or close to the top of the mark range. The international students section has information about typical offers for other qualifications.
If you will have already finished school when you apply, we recommend that you read the page for post-qualification applications.
|Reading suggestions||Book / resource suggestions for all areas of the Natural Sciences course. Some of the student profiles also recommend books or say what they read. See for example Stratis, Charlotte, Arqum|
|Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment preparation||Notes to guide students preparing for the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (required for all Natural Sciences applications)|
|Study from home / A level sciences|
|Study from home / USA Advanced Placements||Khan Academy resources: High School Biology; AP Biology; High School Chemistry; AP Chemistry; High School Physics; AP Physics 1; AP Physics II; AP Calculus BC|
|Yourgenome||Website about DNA, genes and genomes by the Wellcome Genome Campus:|
|Big Picture Biology collection||Wellcome Trust Biology resources|
|IntoBiology website||Science news, careers guidance, and study skills support.|
|iBiology||US website featuring Biology talks|
|Covid-19 reading suggestions|
|Chemistry demonstration lectures||Demonstrations to illustrate particular concepts, with many experiments never seen before.|
|Cambridge Chemistry Race||Chemistry Competition for teams of Sixth Form students|
|Periodic table resources|
|A future in Chemistry||Royal Society of Chemistry careers website|
|Isaac Physics||Website to help you develop problem-solving skills in Physics from GCSE to A-level through to the transition to university. See A-level resources and student support. There is also a mentoring scheme, events and opportunity to earn a summer school place.|
|Isaac Physics video lesson archive||These lessons cover the core syllabus for A level Physics.|
|Physics.org||Science news website|
|NASA STEM Engagement website||Enrichment resources from NASA|
|CERN Resources||Photos, films, reports etc.|
|Advanced Mathematics Support Programme||Advanced Mathematics Support Programme
See in particular A level Mathematics resources and A level Further Mathematics resources. If you are studying independently, Integral offers an online Further Mathematics course. See studying an Advanced Maths option independently.
|NRICH Mathematics||Free online resources to help you to develop the advanced applied mathematical skills needed to make the most of the study of sciences at university. See in particular BioNRICH, ChemNRICH, PhysNRICH, Advanced Scientific Mathematics and prepare for university, and live problems|
|MEI (Maths Education) study from home||Resources for students studying at home|
|HE+ Mathematics||Resources for students who would like to explore Maths beyond the school curriculum.|
|Earth Sciences introduction||Earth Sciences is one of the new sciences that you can study in first year - worth a look!|
|History and Philosophy of Science introduction||Another of the course options - you can take this from second year if you want to (see routes).|
Watch Cambridge Festival recordings
|You can see a selection on Youtube from the 2021 festival including ones on organoids, developing Medicines in the pandemic, what we've learned about science communication in the pandemic and Marine Biology. There are also podcasts available from previous festivals|
|Gresham College Science lectures||Free lectures online including individual lectures such as Covid-19 and series such as
Cosmic Concepts; The Unexpected Universe, The Nature of Reality, or Cancer: A fight we are steadily winning. You can search by topics e.g. Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Astronomy or Physics.
|Oxford Physics public lectures||Looking at topics as diverse as the creation of the universe to the science of climate change.|
|Webpages for secondary school students who would like to explore science.|
|Finding out about research after the undergraduate degree. Hear from students from different departments.||Zoology - ZooCasts series 1 & ZooCasts series 2
Life Sciences - a day in our lives PhD students & a young person's guide to life sciences (aimed at younger children, but worth a watch by all!)
|CamGuides||Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working|
Come to an Open Day or Online Event
Online events: Our open days and events page advertises regular online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge. If you can, come on a College Open Day and if you are from a state school and interested in Natural Sciences (Biological), apply for our Biological Sciences Taster Day to find out more about the College and the Natural Sciences course in person.
Further subject-specific opportunities you might wish to consider include Subject Masterclasses organised by Cambridge Admissions Office, Cambridge Physics Lectures and Natural Sciences-specific talks in the July Cambridge Open Days. Do also look out for the Cambridge Festival in March, as although it's not specifically for prospective students, there are a lot of science events. If you are a UK student from a background where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education, you can apply to attend a Sutton Trust Summer School in Natural Sciences or to shadow a current Natural Sciences undergraduate via the Cambridge SU Shadowing
Scheme (do be aware that there's a high proportion of applicants to places for both of these last two opportunities so please don't be discouraged if you don't get a place).
Need more information?
For more detail of what the course involves, read Undergraduate Natural Sciences admissions on the University website, and look at the Natural Sciences Tripos website and overview booklet for prospective students too.
If you have any other queries, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help however we can.