Natural Sciences in Cambridge allows both physical and biological science students to follow the same unique and demanding course, which can be tailored towards your scientific interests. A broad first year provides the basis for increasing specialisation in the second, third and, in some disciplines, fourth years. The breadth and flexibility of the course reflects the modern blurring of boundaries between the sciences. It provides a huge advantage because it makes it possible for you to follow your interests as your studies proceed and your interests develop.
When you apply to study Natural Sciences, you will be asked to identify yourself as a ‘biological’ or ‘physical’ scientist, but you will not be asked to commit to any single specialist area. In the first year (Part IA), all Natural Scientists study three options from a choice of eight experimental sciences, plus one Mathematical option. The subjects span the entire scientific spectrum, and students are free to select the courses that most interest them. In the second year (Part IB), the choice becomes broader still: some courses develop topics covered in the first year, while others introduce entirely new material. The flexibility of the course makes it possible to combine biological sciences with, for example, organic chemistry, or to combine physical sciences with a new subject like History and Philosophy of Science. In the third year (Part II), most students focus on a single subject, although there are still opportunities for breadth within the Biological and Biomedical Sciences or Physical Sciences options. In several subjects, it’s possible to take a fourth year (Part III) (subject to satisfactory academic performance), leading to an MSci degree.
Further details of the course, including a full list of the many available options, are available from the University's Natural Sciences web pages.
Natural Sciences at Caius
Caius has a large community of Natural Scientists (usually something like 26 per year), split roughly equally between the Physical and Biological Sciences. We also have a large number of Fellows, who teach our students and are involved in active research at the various University Departments. The College has a vibrant scientific community, including the student-driven Caius Natural Sciences Society.
The Director of Studies in Biological Sciences is Dr David Summers (Genetics), and the Directors of Studies in Physical Sciences are Dr John Ellis (Physics) and Dr Andrew Bond (Chemistry). Directors of Studies provide advice on subject combinations and other opportunities, to help you get the best from the Cambridge course. Caius also has Fellows in a large number of the specialist subject options (for example, Earth Sciences, Biochemistry, Psychology, etc.), who are able to support you as you progress through the course. About half of our science graduates go on to study for higher degrees, either in Cambridge or elsewhere. A Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge is also valued outside science. In recent years, Caius science graduates have entered a wide range of professions, including law, advertising, finance, television, management and drama. One of our recent graduates is making television documentaries with Sir David Attenborough!
Caius seeks to admit well-qualified, ambitious and enthusiastic students who will make the most of their academic opportunities. When applying for Natural Sciences, we will ask you to specify either the "Biological" or "Physical" stream. The distinction is largely administrative: your choice will not limit your possibilities if you should be accepted for the course, and all applications are ultimately assessed in the same way. Candidates should usually have taken A-level Mathematics (or equivalent), plus two further science A-levels. The most common combinations are: Mathematics / Chemistry / Physics or Biology. Applicants with Mathematics plus only one science subject at A-level (or equivalent) will be considered. In addition, Further Mathematics (at A-level or AS level, or equivalents) is advantageous, especially for the Physical stream and Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences.
All applicants for Natural Sciences (including Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences) are required to sit the University's Admissions Assessment in Natural Sciences.
We consider all aspects of a candidate’s written application and we invite the majority of candidates to interview. Natural Sciences applicants will usually be given two interviews of 20-30 mins. Applicants for the Biological stream will be given a general scientific interview plus a more focused subject interview on biological topics. Applicants for the Physical stream will be given a general physical sciences interview plus a subject interview focused on a choice of either Physics or Chemistry. Applicants for Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences are assessed within the Physical stream, and may also have an additional interview with College Fellows in Chemical Engineering.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Directors of Studies or the Admissions Office on firstname.lastname@example.org.