Clare College Cambridge

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences


Number of students per year: 2-3
Typical offer: A*AA or 7,7,6 (42+ overall) in the IB or the equivalent in other educational systems. We would normally ask that the A* be in Maths, Biology, Physics or Chemistry.  For Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers - Offers usually require AAA at Advanced Higher Grade.
Essential subjects: No specific A-level subjects are required for PBS, but at Clare we expect that most candidates will have studied Mathematics and/or one of Biology, Physics or Chemistry at A-level or equivalent, in addition to other academically demanding subjects in sciences, arts or humanities/social sciences. Previous study of Psychology is neither particularly recommended nor a disadvantage. 
Written assessment: There is no pre-interview assessment for PBS but candidates may be asked to complete an at-interview assessment which might involve close reading of a scientific text and/or essay writing.


Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) gives you the opportunity to study biological, cognitive, developmental and social psychology within the broader context of the behavioural and neurosciences. It links subjects which are taught by the Department of Psychology (shared with the Natural Sciences Tripos) and by the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Science.

In the first-year students study core papers in the basics of statistics, experimental methods, biological and psychological sciences, along with two optional papers. Those interested in the biological side of psychology will probably choose to study Evolution and Behaviour, Mathematical Biology (shared with the NST) or Biological Anthropology. Those interested in the sociological aspects of psychology may choose to study subjects such as social anthropology and sociology (shared with HSPS) in the first year.

After the first year, PBS continues the core teaching in neuroscience, research methods and developmental/social psychology and offers candidates the ability to combine those with papers that most suit their interests, whether that is the neurobiological basis of perception, the history psychiatry, or the development of gender roles within society.

By the final year students choose three taught papers across a broad range of topics and additionally undertake an empirical research dissertation. This piece of research often involves cutting-edge experimental methods (e.g. brain imaging, brain stimulation, psychopharmacology, eye-tracking) in addition to standard tests and questionnaires. Students are prepared for their dissertation through a series of statistics, practical and laboratory-based teaching throughout the previous two years.

The Department of Psychology at Cambridge is part of the School of Biological Sciences. Unlike other Psychology degrees, at least half of the core teaching has an emphasis on the biological and quantitative aspects of behaviour in humans and animals. Students primarily interested in the more sociological aspects of Psychology may wish to consider applying to the Human Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) Tripos. 



Link to University Subject Page

Clare College Fellows and Research Associates connected with Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

Dr Rebecca Lawson  Director of Studies
Professor Nicola Clayton
, Professor of Comparative Cognition Psychology
Professor Lorraine Tyler, MRC Research Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
Dr Meredith Shafto