Natural Sciences (Physical)

The framework within which most science subjects are taught at Cambridge.

⚠️ This page is not complete yet. For full guidance refer to official university resources.

Preparation

General Information

Overview [Link]. A good overview of the course structure (which can be very different depending on whether you want to study mainly biological or mainly physical sciences) and entry requirements.

Course content [Link]. To find out more about what you’d be studying if you applied and got in, these pages give an overview of current courses with introductions and reading guides for the different papers.

Best preparation before application

General reading [Link]. Some useful advice and ideas on reading split into ‘biology of cells’, ‘computer science’, ‘evolution and behaviour’, ‘chemistry’, ‘earth sciences’, ‘materials science’, ‘physics’, ‘physiology of organisms’, ‘mathematics’ and ‘mathematical biology’.

Maths for the Natural Sciences Handbook [Link]. A brilliant 16-page PDF from the Maths Faculty designed to help students and applicants prepare for the maths found in the Natural Sciences course.

General NRICH maths preparation [Link]. An excellent page on the NRICH website which provides a set of problems which complement the Maths for the Natural Sciences handbook (above).

If you’re applying for Natural Sciences, you’re probably interested in either mainly biological or mainly physical sciences (or maybe you’re interested in everything, which is great!). The simplest way to split out the resources is to put them into the subjects as you would study them at school: biology, chemistry and physics.

Biology

bioNRICH [Link]. Some useful maths exercises to improve your skills on the more numbers-based aspects of biology.

InfoBiology [Link]. A wealth of information on biological research, including latest news and ideas for independent projects you might want to try.

School Science Biology [Link]. A massive source of links to information on everything from cells and microbiology to human biology, genetics and evolution.

HE Plus [Link]. A brilliant resource from Cambridge itself with really detailed resources (including activities with answers) on a wide variety of topics from stem cells and evolution to biodiversity and public health.

Chemistry

chemNRICH [Link]. Some useful maths activities that will help you with you Chemistry prep.

School Science Chemistry [Link]. Tonnes of information and useful links on here about everything from organic chemistry to industrial processes and chemical calculations.

Learn Chemistry [Link]. An interesting website that is mainly for teachers, but also has good resources for students including for the ‘school to university’ transition.

Isaac Chemistry [Link]. A really useful source of questions and answers produced by Cambridge University.

HE Plus [Link]. A great resource produced by Cambridge itself with detailed resources and exercises on a wide range of topics from chromatography and infrared spectroscopy to catalysts and colour.

Physics

Isaac Physics [Link]. A fantastic programme created and run by Cambridge offering support for year 11s and above in the form of brilliant online resources and free events.

Project Tuva [Link]. A cool collaboration between Microsoft and Bill Gates which puts Richard Feynman’s important Messenger Lecture Series into an easily-viewable format.

physNRICH [Link]. As for Biology and Chemistry, the NRICH site is extremely useful for practice maths questions.

Physics.org [Link]. A great hub of useful resources including a really useful database of handpicked physics websites (which you can filter by topic, age, and knowledge level).

School Science Physics [Link]. A good source of links to current research and useful exercises across different topic areas including atomic and nuclear physics, forces and motion, and electricity and magnetism.

HE Plus [Link]. An excellent Cambridge University resource which has some great information and exercises (with answers) on a variety of topics including solar cells, special relativity, nuclear magnetic resonance and quantum physics.

Free events

There are also very useful free experiences outside of what you can do at school or at home (although you’ll have to travel to get there). There’s absolutely no need to pay for the expensive courses often advertised online.

Natural Sciences Masterclass days [Link]. A fantastic and free way to experience sample lectures and put your questions directly to Cambridge staff.

Open days [Link]. These are a great chance not only to go the department and speak to current staff and students, but also to look round colleges and see which ones you like the look of. It’d be a good idea to have shortlist of colleges you would like to visit before you go, because there is a lot to see in one day!

Sutton Trust Summer School [Link]. A great residential course for state school students. Would be a perfect way to experience what studying at Cambridge is really like in a pretty fun and relaxed course.

Application and Interviews

Application

Admissions requirements and advice [Link]. A detailed page from the Natural Sciences website covering entrance requirements, best A-Level subjects and useful qualifications.

Common questions [Link]. This page has some really useful answers to common questions, including on application numbers and the college system.

Entrance Exam [Link]. Under the ‘Entry Requirements’ tab of this page is a useful resources to help you prepare for the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment, including specimen and past papers.

Interviews

Read interviews about Natural Sciences (Physical)

Mock Chemistry interview [Link]. A really useful 15 minute video from Emmanuel College showing a mock interview for an applicant interested in studying Chemistry options.

Mock ‘physical’ sciences interview [Link]. Within this general video by the University on the admissions process, there are useful extracts from a ‘physical’ Natural Sciences interview.

Colleges

Official College Websites