Natural Sciences

Dr Linda King (Biological sciences) and Dr Susan Haines (Physical sciences) are the principal Directors of Studies. Students specialising in Earth sciences will be directed by Dr Charlotte Kenchington and those in the History and Philosophy of Science by Dr Salim Al-Gailani.

Course Overview

We accept both mature and, in some cases, affiliated students for the undergraduate study of both Biological and Physical Sciences. The choice between the two options is made on the Supplementary Application Questionnaire but is not a binding choice – candidates in either stream can study any of the subjects they are qualified for. Details of options can be found on the course website; first year students must study three experimental sciences as well as a maths option.

Upon the College receiving your application, if appropriate, you will be called for interview, including an interview with the person who will become your personal Director of Studies (DoS). On acceptance into St Edmund’s College, your DoS will contact you before you arrive in Cambridge (by email) and then meet with you soon after your arrival to discuss your choice of course options.

Students studying the Natural Sciences in the first year (Part IA) take 4 courses, one of which must be some aspect of mathematics. To help familiarise yourself with the Cambridge examination system, we organise mock examinations for you directly before the Lent term in mid-January, during which you will be questioned on the previous term’s work.

There is further information about the course on the University and Course webpages.  These sites also have links to the individual departments involved with teaching the Natural Sciences course.

Entry Requirements

Please note that an Access to HE course alone is not considered adequate preparation.

Most students have at least three science/mathematics A Levels. The typical minimum requirement is two, but this will restrict your choice of Part IA options. In these circumstances, you’ll normally be expected to achieve A* in both of the science/mathematics subjects and encouraged to take an additional science/mathematics AS Level. The more useful combinations are:

  • A Level Biology, A Level Chemistry, and AS Level Mathematics or Physics (for Biological scientists)
  • A Level Chemistry, A Level Mathematics, and AS Level Biology or Physics (a good general combination)
  • A Level Physics, A Level Mathematics and AS Level Further Mathematics (for Physical scientists)

See also the Part IA paper descriptions for specific subject requirements for each Year 1 option.

Admissions Assessment

Candidates must apply by the October deadline and register for, and sit, the Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT); more information can be found here. 
Please note that your performance in the assessment at interview will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

Postgraduate Study

We have many postgraduate students in College studying Natural Sciences leading to either an MPhil or a PhD. As a post-graduate student, due to the highly specialised nature of your research, almost all of your teaching will take place in your Department, however, the College organises courses to help you with more general matters such as scientific writing. You will also be given the opportunity to present your research findings in College to an audience composed of your College friends and also the College Fellows. Many of the College Fellows are Senior Scientists and you are encouraged to socialise with them at dinner and at other organised functions.