Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

  • UCAS Code: C800 BA/PBS
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Places per year: 1-3

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences is a unique degree course. It combines core papers in Psychology with the opportunity to study an enormous range of other approaches to understanding the human mind, brain, and behaviour.

In the first two years, students spend just over half of their time covering core topics in psychology, including neuroscience, cognitive science, social and developmental psychology, and research methods; the other half of their papers are selected from a very wide range of courses from across the university, including neurobiology, philosophy, politics, biological and social anthropology and sociology. In their final year, students choose three advanced papers that fit their specialized interests, and complete an original piece of research, again on a topic of their choosing. They emerge with a deep understanding of human behaviour, and with an impressive portfolio of intellectual and technical skills.

Course Overview

In the first year (Part IA), you take a total of four papers, three of which are compulsory:

  • Introduction to Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Social, Applied and Individual Differences
  • From Subjectivity to Science

The remaining paper is chosen from a selection of around nine options. The optional papers available each year may vary but subjects usually include:

  • biological and social anthropology
  • evolution and behaviour
  • politics
  • philosophy
  • sociology

You will be assessed via a range of laboratory reports and written exams.

How You Learn

Each paper uses a variety of teaching and learning methods, including lectures, classes, seminars, and supervisions. Some papers include a practical element, which takes place in laboratories. Students can typically expect at least two lectures a week for each paper, and it is recommended that students write six supervision essays per paper. Students will receive additional supervisions on their projects and dissertations.

The individual papers employ a range of assessment techniques, including unseen written examinations, assessed coursework, literature and experimental reports, marked essays, oral examinations, and project reports and presentations.


PBS At Trinity Hall

All colleges that accept students for PBS offer a fantastic education in the subject. Trinity Hall has a dedicated Fellow in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences and a friendly community of PBS students who support each other within and across year groups; students also benefit from interacting (and being taught) with students on other courses that share papers with PBS, which broadens their intellectual (and social) horizons.

All students take part in small-group teaching sessions (“supervisions”); some of these are taught by academics from the college, but Trinity Hall, like all colleges, draws on academics from across the university to ensure that students are interacting with the best-qualified and most suitable academics for a particular topic.

A Day in the Life of a PBS Student

7:30 – Wake up and eat breakfast with a mug of coffee. I’m a Christian so I spend a bit of time reading the Bible and in prayer.

9:00 – Got to start the day right with a bit of exercise, I love yoga!

10:00 – Watch a couple of lectures. Lectures could be ‘pure’ psychology covering topics such as social, atypical or developmental psychology, or they could be from the optional papers such as evolutionary biology, biological anthropology, philosophy or sociology.

12:00 – Do some of the work that my supervisors have set. This is often an essay but could be some short answer questions based on previous lectures.

13:00 – Supervision. These are small groups of about three students and one supervisor. These happen for each of the 4 papers/modules on a weekly or fortnightly basis. We go over those week’s lectures; the supervisor asks us questions to make sure we understood them. If there is time we might discuss some topics more in depth than what was covered in lectures.

14:00 – Lunch. I have a kitchen (rather than first years who only have ‘gyps’ (a small, basic kitchen)) so cook or have something that I’ve batch cooked for the week. I might watch something on Netflix…

15:30 – Start the reading for the essay that the supervisor set earlier today…

18:00 – Watch a talk/go to an event that someone has shared with me Facebook. This could be related to psychology or it might be related to a personal interest like the environment.

19:30 – Ballet lesson with the Cambridge University Ballet Club

20:30 – Cook dinner and eat with my friends in the rooms next to me. We might play a game or go on a walk if we are not too overloaded with work!

22:30 – Sleep after a tiring day.

Typical Offer Conditions




41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level


See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements 



Applicants would normally be expected to have taken A Level/IB Higher Level Biology or Mathematics. Where this is not the case, applicants should show evidence of strong performance in the Sciences to GCSE level (or its equivalent, as demonstrated in a high school transcript).


Written Work


Admissions Assessment