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Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

The Course

Psychology is very diverse and shares considerable overlap with disciplines such as anthropology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, sociology and many others. Psychology and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge gives you the opportunity to study cognitive, social, developments and biological psychology within the broader context of the behavioural sciences. The course covers, for example, brain mechanisms, gender, family relationships and influences, personality, and group social behaviour.  Research projects and a dissertation also enable you to study in greater depth the topics that interest you most.

Teaching and facilities

In the Department of Psychology, you are taught by lecturers and researchers of international excellence.  Subject societies and seminar programmes offer regular talks from guest speakers too. In addition to this academic expertise, you have access to the Department library and specialist collections help in associated Departments’ libraries – amounting to around 50,000 books and over 150 periodicals – as well as other resources and computing facilities. Teaching is provided through lectures, classes or seminars, and supervisions. Some papers include a practical element, which takes place in laboratories. You can typically expect two lectures a week for each paper.  You also have one or two supervisions a week to discuss your work and develop your reasoning and ideas.

Year 1 (Part I)

In Part I, you take a total of four papers, two of which are compulsory:

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Psychological Enquiry and Methods

The remaining papers are chosen from a selection of up to nine options.  The optional papers available each year may vary but examples include:

  •  Humans in Biological Perspective
  • Language, Communication and Literacy
  • Evolution and Behaviour
  • Analysis of Politics
  • Logic
  • Introduction to Computer Science

At the end of the year you sit a three-hour written examination in each paper.

Year 2 (Part IIA)

Part IIA provides a foundation for the research-led teaching of the final year which also allowing you to begin to specialise in those areas that interest you. You take four papers in total. All students take:

  • the Social and Developmental Psychology paper
  • the Cognitive Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology paper, which teaches research methods and includes laboratory work
  • two optional papers

  The optional papers are selected from a range of around 19 available. The subjects may change from year to year but will typically include papers in:

  • biological anthropology
  • history and philosophy of science
  • social anthropology
  • sociology
  • the sociology of education
  • neurobiology
  • philosophy of mind

Both the Biological and Cognitive Psychology, and Experimental Psychology papers involve laboratory work. With the exception of the research skills project, you sit a written exam in each paper at the end of the year.

Year 3 (Part IIB) 

In your final year, you undertake a research dissertation of 7,000 words on a psychology topic of your choice. You also choose a further three papers from a selection available, each of which is assessed by a written examination. Further information about the course can be found on the University website. 


We admit two students per year for PBS, but there is some flexibility in relation to total numbers. At A Level (or equivalent), no subjects are essential, but given the science focus of this course, Mathematics and Biology are desirable. You will be asked to submit two pieces of written work and these may be discussed at interview.  The admissions process will consist of two interviews, one with the Director of Studies, and one with another non-expert academic.  Applicants for PBS will sit a pre-interview assessment and further details can be found on: .  

Further enquiries should be directed to the Admissions Office.

Go to the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences faculty website