Psychological & Behavioural Sciences (PBS)


The highly popular PBS course covers the full range of psychology, including behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, as well as the study of atypical development and adult psychopathology. Psychology is simultaneously a social science, a natural science, and a medical science, and the PBS course explores each of these aspects. It is of recognized value in many careers, ranging from clinical or educational psychology, through to the design of new technologies, science documentary making, or working in the criminal justice system.

While there are a small number of compulsory psychology papers, students will have plenty of choice, with options such as the development of social behaviour, psychopathology, cognitive psychology, language, brain mechanisms, gender, family relationships and influences, personality, and group social behaviour. Research projects and a dissertation also enable students to study in greater depth the topics that interest them most. Typical projects involve brain and language, gender, neuroscience, personality, autism, depression, ageing, social interaction, hearing, memory, and visual cognition.

Within the course, there is also the flexibility to pursue related disciplines such as politics, sociology, archaeology, biological and social anthropology, computer science, philosophy, natural sciences, economics, and education.

Students are taught by lecturers and researchers of international excellence in the field of psychology. Seminar programs throughout the year offer regular talks from guest speakers. In addition to this academic expertise, students will have access to extensive library and computing facilities. In the current QS World University Rankings, Cambridge is placed second in the world for psychology. In the Guardian’s University guide 2015: league table for psychology, the Good University Guide 2015, and the Complete University Guide 2017, Cambridge is ranked top for psychology.

The University’s psychology teaching is accredited by the British Psychological Society. Graduates are therefore eligible for admission to professional courses in clinical, educational, forensic, applied, or academic psychology. Numerous past students of psychology at Cambridge have gone on to prominent positions in psychology research and related fields throughout the world.

Typical offers in most Cambridge colleges for the course are A*AA at A Level. Equivalent qualifications are also considered – see the Undergraduate Study website for details. Two of those A Levels must be in Mathematics and Biology. On average 380 applications for PBS per year are received and 80 offers are made. The numbers that are admitted by Trinity College will be reviewed after the first year of entry into the course.

After you have submitted your UCAS application online you will be prompted to provide some additional information in a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) direct to the University of Cambridge. If you wish to defer entry, you should indicate this on your UCAS application. If you have a good examination record and a favourable reference, you are likely to be invited to interview. Interviewers want to see how you work through problems and take on new ideas, and to find out more about you. This is an important part of our selection procedure.

For more about the PBS course in Cambridge:

Frequently asked questions about the course:

Note that there are other routes to studying psychology at Cambridge, one being within the Natural Sciences (NST) course ( and another being within Medicine.

Teaching Staff

Admissions Assessment

All applicants are required to take the pre-interview written assessment for PBS at an authorised centre local to them (for a lot of applicants, this will be their school/college).


Section 1 content
Thinking Skills Assessment (CT/PS)
Plus either Part B Mathematics and Biology or Part C Reading Comprehension (80 minutes)

Section 2 content
Essay/text response (40 minutes)

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Admissions Assessment Specification

You must be registered in advance (separately to your UCAS application) to take the assessment – the registration deadline is 15 October 2018. Your assessment centre must register you for the pre-interview assessment; you are not able to register yourself. See the written assessments page for information about assessment centres and registration.

Further details about the format of the assessment and preparatory materials can be found on the written assessments page.

The pre-interview written assessment for PBS will be taken on 31 October 2018.

Please note that your performance in the pre-interview assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.


Applications received 7
Offers made 2