Natural Sciences

  • UCAS Code: BCF0 BA/NS
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3-4 years
  • Places per year: c. 20

Natural Sciences offers a wide range of physical and biological science subjects from 16 departments in a unique and demanding course. A broad first year is combined with increasing specialisation in the second year and the possibility of total specialisation in the third year.

The breadth of the course reflects the blurring of boundaries between the different sciences and before committing yourself to one department you study a variety of subjects, some of which may be new to you. This means you can change your mind about which subject to specialise in. The flexibility of the course makes it possible to take purely biological sciences, purely physical sciences or a combination of both, according to your interests.

Natural Sciences

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Course Overview

The major strength of the Cambridge Natural Sciences Tripos lies in the wide range of options available to students from day one.

In the first year, you choose three science subjects from:

  • Biology of Cells
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Evolution and Behaviour
  • Materials Science
  • Physics
  • Physiology of Organisms
  • Psychology (subject to timetable/numbers)

plus one Mathematics option from:

  • Mathematics focusing on Physical sciences
  • Mathematics focusing on Biological sciences

Many students discover a passion for the new subjects that they start in the first year, such as Earth Sciences or Materials Science, and continue with these in subsequent years.

How You Learn

You will be taught through lectures and practical laboratory classes. You’ll also have supervisions and complete projects, coursework and field work for some courses.

In your first year, you will usually attend 12 lectures a week and have 1 supervision a week for each of your 4 courses. As well as this, you’ll take part in practical labs.

In your second year, you will typically attend 9 lectures a week and have 1 supervision a week for each of your 3 courses.

Depending on the courses you choose, you’ll also take on practical labs, project work and/or coursework. The frequency of your practical labs will depend on your courses.

The organisation of teaching in the third and fourth years will vary depending on the course.

Entry Requirements

Minimum Offer Level

A-Level: A*A*A

IB Diploma: 41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Other: See the University’s Entry Requirements page

Subject Requirements

You will need A levels/IB Higher Levels (or the equivalent) in:

  • Mathematics
  • 2 other science or mathematics subjects

Please note, ‘science/mathematics subjects’ refers to Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

Colleges may require you to achieve A*/7 in Chemistry and/or another science or mathematics subject.

Admissions Process

Written Work

None required.

Admissions Assessment

All applicants for Natural Sciences for 2025 entry are required to take the Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT) at an authorised assessment centre. You must register in advance for this test.

Please see the University’s admissions test page for more information.


Two interviews of around 25 minutes each.

When applying for Natural Sciences at Cambridge, you will be asked to indicate whether you wish to apply for Biological or Physical Sciences. This will determine what kind of questions you will be asked at interview. At Trinity Hall, Biological applicants will tend to be asked questions about Biology and Chemistry, while Physical applicants will tend to be asked questions about Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Each interview will be tailored to the individual and the subjects they have studied at school. However, interviews will cover some new ground as well – we want to see how well you deal with new material and with the application of your background knowledge to new problems.

Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall is a fantastic environment in which to study Natural Sciences, having a dynamic team of academics who teach right across the spectrum of this course, whilst themselves carrying out world-leading research. Our students benefit from a close association with this supportive and inspiring team, who collectively put a strong emphasis on guiding our undergraduates’ course choices and enabling them to gain experience of cutting-edge research in their vacations. Many graduates go on to study towards higher degrees or take up research jobs in industry.

We look for students with a broad and passionate interest in science, so suggest that you read widely around the popular science and more accessible academic literature that interests you most.

Video Resource

Going beyond what you learn at school and engaging with super-curricular resources is a great way to develop your knowledge of your subject and demonstrate your passion at interview.

Watch this video of Dr Robert Asher and Natural Sciences students discussing the impact of European colonisation on the Natural Sciences to learn more about the subject.

Last updated: April 2024 for 2025 entry