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Natural Sciences at St. Catharine's

St. Catharine’s is a College with a particularly strong reputation in Natural Sciences. Every year, we are either near or at the top of the Cambridge academic rankings in this subject. We pride ourselves in taking students from all sorts of backgrounds, most of whom have no family experience of Oxbridge. We believe that our achievements in Natural Sciences reflect the individual attention and encouragement that St. Catharine’s Fellows (the lecturers attached to our College) are prepared to give to our science students, who form a particularly coherent, friendly and focused group.
Please follow the links below, if you are interested in applying to read Natural Sciences at St. Catharine's:

St. Catharine’s accepts some 25-35 natscis each year, including one or two who will move across to the Chemical Engineering Tripos in their second year: together they form more than 20% of the undergraduate population. The College is a lively and varied place to study Natural Sciences, not least because of the John Ray Society, the College Natural Science society. Named after the famous 17th century naturalist who was a member of St. Catharine’s, and run by the undergraduates, the John Ray Society organises talks by visiting scientists and Fellows as well as social events for the College natscis. We also have an excellent and newly-refurbished library, well-stocked with the latest core texts, which is a pleasant place to work. There are a number of scholarships and prizes available for those natural science undergraduates who perform particularly well in their exams.

Rather than looking at the more superficial and obvious features, one of the best reasons to choose any particular College is on the grounds of who will be teaching you. Your supervisors and Directors of Studies represent your academic mentors through three or four years of study, and they can make a substantial difference to your enjoyment and success in a particular academic discipline.

Our Fellows in the Natural Sciences are the lecturers and researchers specifically attached to St. Catharine's (as opposed to any other College), whose job it is to supervise and direct studies if you read Natural Sciences here. When not teaching students, they research such exotic subjects as ozone holes, complex networks, material for supersonic engines, bacterial genetics, cosmology, evolution of the ear and the sex-lives of lagoonal mudsnails. Several are also Fellows of the Royal Society, one of the highest distinctions for a scientist. The Master of St. Catharine’s, Prof. Dame Jean Thomas, is herself a very eminent biochemist.

The St. Catharine’s Fellowship is particularly strong in terms of natural science teaching. Many of our Fellows have significant roles in teaching and examining the undergraduate courses for the University, which means that they are very well-placed to help our undergraduates. Cats Fellows whom you will find lecturing and running practical labs in courses that you might be considering taking in your first or second years here include Dr. Dalley (neuroscience), Dr. Harrison (materials), Dr. Mason (physiology), Dr. Oliver (cell biology) and Dr. Wothers (chemistry). You may have seen Dr. Wothers on television, giving the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2012!

The St. Catharine's Fellows share the responsibility of guiding our Natural Science students through their courses, and they conduct many of the supervisions personally. The interest that our Natural Science Fellows take in the academic progress of their students in St. Catharine’s represents a key reason for our success in this area and the excellent postgraduate careers that our students are helped to pursue following their time here. Indeed, we feel that the particularly close mentoring between our Fellows and students represents one of the most important things which distinguishes St. Catharine's from other Colleges.

Information on specific subjects

At St. Catharine's, we take students reading all Natural Sciences courses. Please follow the web-links below for further information about some of these subjects.

Physiology at St. Catharine's
Neuroscience at St. Catharine's
Pathology at St. Catharine's
Plant Sciences at St. Catharine's

Entry requirements

Please see the University guidelines for Natural Sciences entry requirements and the St. Catharine's admissions webpage for details of general course requirements and how to apply.

For Natural Sciences admissions, St. Catharine's does not require STEP or S level papers, nor do we currently set an entrance exam or ask for any additional qualifications or tests above what you would be taking at school (that may differ for other subjects). Our selection of natural science students is based on school record, references and performance at interview. We are particularly keen to attract students with a genuine passion for science, from all walks of life! 

In addition to the University guidelines (follow link above), we strongly recommend that biological candidates are taking A2 level (or equivalent) chemistry and mathematics, as many of the first year courses will prove difficult without this background. We also very much favour three science/maths A2 levels rather than two plus another subject. Candidates with alternative subject combinations may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage during the admissions procedure.

Last modified 1st February 2014