Biological Natural Sciences at Cambridge
The Natural Sciences course offers an unparalleled combination of academic breadth and depth. In the first year, you will study three science courses plus mathematics, learning via lectures, practicals and supervisions. Biological options include Biology of Cells, Evolution and Behaviour and Physiology of Organisms. Other courses commonly chosen by biologists include Chemistry and Earth Sciences; qualified candidates may take physical sciences courses. In your second year, you will choose three courses from the nineteen available options, including a comprehensive range of biological courses: Animal Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Ecology, Neurobiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Plant and Microbial Sciences. With other possible options including Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Experimental Psychology and History and Philosophy of Science, plus physical sciences, you have the flexibility to design a degree programme that is tailored to your individual interests. In your third year, you can either specialise in a single subject and conduct a lab research project or study Biological and Biomedical Sciences, taking a major and a minor subject, and completing a dissertation. Some subjects have an optional fourth year.
Full details about the structure and content of the course can be found on the departmental website.
Biological Natural Sciences in Murray Edwards College
We welcome around 8 undergraduate students in the Biological Natural Sciences each year and many of our medical and veterinary students study a Biological Natural Sciences subject in their third year. Within the College as a whole this means we have around 40 undergraduate students, 40 postgraduate students, and 15 Fellows and Bye-Fellows interested in Biological Natural Sciences or in closely related subject areas.
We provide individual mentoring as you progress through your academic career, through our Directors of Studies in Biological Sciences, who also arrange supervisors for your weekly small-group teaching sessions in each subject, called supervisions. These interactive meetings are at the heart of a Cambridge education and at Murray Edwards we are fortunate to have academically experienced and supportive supervisors in a range of biological subjects who will reinforce and extend your understanding of the lectures and practical material. On a social level, the student-run Franklin Society organises events for those interested in science. Additionally, there are opportunities for students and Fellows in the biological sciences to dine together during the year, fostering the scientific community within the College.
Our students achieve good results, and some elect to continue with advanced studies at the College, speaking highly of their experience:
"Eight years on, I am still reminded of the huge impact Murray Edwards College has had on my career path, through inspirational role models and mentors" Olivia.
Our academic Fellows are also active in research. Their interests include the following:
- Dr Elizabeth Callery: developmental and stem cell biology
- Dr Paulo D'Avino: cell biology and cancer
- Dr Greg Davis: visual cognition, psychology
- Dr Nick Mundy: evolutionary genetics
- Dr Jennifer Murray: neurobiological basis of addiction
- Dr Alex Piotrowski: earth sciences
- Dr Maria Secrier: mathematical biology, cancer modelling
- Dr Julia Steinberg: human genetics and genomics
- Dr Angelina Turner: pathology
- Dr Julia Turner: immunology
- Dr Aleksandra Watson: biochemistry
- Dr Zoe Wilson: organic chemistry
Our distinguished alumnae
You may also be aware of one or two of our more distinguished alumnae who studied biological natural sciences here, for example: our College President, Dame Barbara Stocking, former CEO of Oxfam and Professor Fiona Watt, Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King's College London.
Applying to study here
We look for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, motivated to learn more and have achieved highly in their examinations to date. At interview we will be more interested in you demonstrating a capacity for clear and critical thinking than repeating a series of facts or pre-prepared answers. Our interviewers will try to work with your core knowledge to explore new areas and to think about them logically. In preparing to apply, or for your interview, it is a good idea to think about where your particular interests lie and what you have already done to pursue this further (eg by wider reading or internet-based research).
We usually set conditional offers consistent with typical/standard offers across the University ie usually A*A*A at A level in concurrently studied subjects (or their equivalent). Full details of entry requirements and selection processes in Biological Natural Sciences across all colleges can be found on the central University webpages.
Moving into your career
Our students follow a wide range of careers when they leave: some will want to stay closely involved with their subject interest while others will be keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities. Those who have studied Biological Natural Sciences have recently taken up roles in environmental consultancy, finance, graduate medicine and teaching overseas.
We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.