Natural Sciences (Biological and Physical)

At Emmanuel we try to help all our students to benefit as much as possible from the flexibility of the Tripos (degree course) system in general, and the Natural Sciences Tripos in particular.

Many people start off their Natural Sciences course expecting to specialise in a particular subject and find themselves attracted to some other course – possibly a closely-related one, sometimes a more distant one, or even a different Tripos altogether. We believe that students perform most successfully, and gain most satisfaction, by pursuing their interests wherever they may lead, rather than by sticking to a course that may have been chosen on the very limited information available at school. Please visit the University prospectus website for a list of options, the NST course website and those of the individual subjects to understand what is available to you.

In the first year, there are twelve lectures a week and about eight or nine hours of practical work a week. In addition there are College supervisions – four hours a week on average – and the preparation for them, which should occupy another twelve hours a week or so. In addition you will need time to work over your lecture notes, read the textbooks and so on. You can see that this adds up to at least 40 hours a week. But much of it can be done at times that suit you, so that you can keep appropriate afternoons free for sport, or evenings free for music or drama or other social activities. People manage to combine study for the Natural Sciences with sport at University level, or playing in a University orchestra, or many other activities. You do need to be well-organised to fit everything in, and there certainly isn’t time to go home every weekend – Cambridge is emphatically not a 9-to-5, five-day-week university.

A gap year is acceptable, if you have a clear objective in mind for it. It can help to broaden your outlook on life, and for many people it proves to be very valuable, but it may carry the risk of losing touch with the academic way of life, and some people find when they finally get to university that they have lost the habit of studying and have forgotten some of their scientific knowledge. However, it rarely takes more than a term or so to get over this.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer: A-level - A*A*A; IB - 776 at Higher Level, 42 points overall; Advanced Highers: A1A1A2; other exam systems.
Course Requirements: Natural Sciences Biological - A-level (or equivalent) Mathematics, Chemistry and one other science subject are essential.

Natural Sciences Physical - A-level (or equivalent) Mathematics and two other science subjects are essential (Chemistry is essential for Chemists and Physics is essential for Physicists, with an AS or A2 Further Mathematics being highly advisable).

Science subjects refer to Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics only.
Course Outline: Further details are available on the NST course website.
Course Options: Information about options is available on the University prospectus website and the NST website.
Applying: For information on how to apply: University application process and Emmanuel application timeline.
Admissions Assessment:

All applicants will take the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA). You must register - separately from your UCAS application - in advance to take the relevant pre-registration assessment. Information on the assessment format is available online.

Registration Deadline - Friday 29 September 2022

Assessment Date - Wednesday 18 October 2023


Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 4 - Wednesday 13 December 2023. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

Applicants for Biological Natural Sciences: will be sent a list of topics in advance of the interview and are asked to select one of the topics that interests them the most, and be prepared to say why it does at interview.

Applicants for Physical Natural Sciences: will be asked to select a general area (Chemistry or Physics) that they would prefer to be interviewed in during their interview with the Director of Studies.

Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office