Clare College Cambridge

Natural Sciences

Link to University Subject Page



The Cambridge Natural Sciences Course allows students to experience and study a wide variety of scientific fields, from genetic engineering to evolutionary biology, and from nanotachnology to astrophysics. The course is broad and flexible. You start in the first year with three subjects, at least one of which will probably be new to you, and can determine your direction as your interests develop.

In the second year more specialization is possible, with a choice of courses from about twenty options. In the third year, most people concentrate on one subject only. In this year, you become identified with a particular Department. Your work, which may include a research project, brings you into direct contact with working scientists and to the forefront of current understanding in the subject. Field trips are an essential part of some courses, including Ecology and Earth Sciences. A degree can be obtained after three years, but Physics, Chemistry, Geological Sciences, Materials Sciences and Metallurgy, Biochemistry, History and Philosophy of Science, and some other subjects offer an optional fourth year with further specialisation. 

A degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge is an excellent qualification for employment - and not only in the scientific sphere. The University has good contacts with local research institutes, and a number of science-based companies whose establishment in the area has been promoted by the University in recent years. A good proportion of those graduating go on to do a PhD degree and research work in universities and in industry, and some of our graduates go on to careers in law, management, teaching, broadcasting, accountancy, computing, public relations and so on.


Why Study Natural Science at Clare?


The College has a strong tradition of excellence in Natural Sciences with a large number of teaching Fellows, between them covering most areas of science. Dr Matthew Kenzie and Dr Andrew Carter are overall Directors of Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences respectively.  They will discuss your choice of subjects with you when you arrive and help you navigate your way through the course.  In each individual science, there is a Director of Studies. Almost all of these are Fellows of Clare, who will supervise you or arrange for supervision from an appropriate specialist.

Dr Andrew Carter
Biological Natural Sciences

Dr Matthew Kenzie
Physical Natural Sciences

Prof Anna Philpott
Cell Biology and Biochemistry

Dr Paul Bristowe
Materials Science

Prof Jonathan Goodman

Prof Neil Greenham

Prof Howard Griffiths
Plant Sciences

Prof Gordon Ogilvie
Mathematics for Natural Sciences

Dr Edgar Turner


Dr Nigel Woodcock
Earth Sciences

Dr Lucy Colwell
Physical Natural Sciences


Dr Patricia Fara
History and Philosophy of Science


There is a College Natural Science Society - The Whiston Society. This organises social events and scientific talks of general interest. Natural Scientists at Clare are eligible to apply for places on summer placement schemes organised by the college currently including the Watson Scholarship at Cold Spring Harbor in the USA, a summer placement in Dr Mark Poznansky's lab at Harvard university and a Tsinghua-Cambridge Summer Studentship Exchange scheme in China. See here.

natural sciences dinner 
First and second year Natural Science students after a college dinner




Each year we accept 25-35 students; our sole concern is to find those students with the potential to make the most of the science teaching offered by Cambridge. There is no College quota for Natural Sciences nor for the numbers of Biological and Physical Scientists. The chance of being offered a place at Cambridge is the same whether you apply to Clare or to any other college. Candidates are interviewed in December. The normal pattern is for two interviews to explore your scientific interests.

Each offer is tailored to you personally, taking into account your individual circumstances, including school background, special access arrangements and the nature of your course. 

All applicants for natural sciences will take a pre-interview admissions assessment. Details are on the university web page.





Clare Chemistry graduates, now working at Harvard

Student Profiles


Lorna Wills, Anna Peel
Recent Graduates:
Ellie Adams, Alex Batchelor, Will ChambersClaire Harwell, Holly Rees  


Reading Lists


Click here for a list of recommended books.