Natural Sciences -- Bio


Natural Sciences (NST) offers a wide range of physical and biological science subjects from 16 departments in a unique and demanding course. A broad first year is combined with increasing specialisation in the second year and the possibility of total specialisation in the third year. A summary of the course can be found on the Natural Sciences website and in the following videos:

If you are interested in biological sciences, three of the first year (Part IA) options cover biological subjects:

  • Biology of Cells;
  • Evolution and Behaviour; and
  • Physiology of Organisms.

Therefore, possible biological sciences combinations include:

  • purely biological – all three biology options
  • biochemical/pharmacological – combining biology options and Chemistry
  • ecological/evolutionary – combining biology options and Earth Sciences
  • combining Chemistry, Physics and Biology of Cells and Mathematical Biology.

In the second year (Part IB), 10 biological subjects are offered. Some of these develop topics covered in Part IA and others introduce new material. The flexibility of the course again means that it is possible to take purely biological sciences, or to combine biological sciences with, for example, organic chemistry (Chemistry B), Earth Sciences A or History and Philosophy of Science.

Most students focus on a single subject in their third year (Part II), concentrating on specific areas of the discipline and undertaking a research project or dissertation. At this point, you will become integrated into one of the departments.  Alternatively, you can take the broader Biological and Biomedical Sciences option.

The Course offers teaching by world-leading experts in their field. You are taught through a series of morning lectures (9-12 per week) and afternoon practical classes (between 2 and 4 per week). You will also have up to 4 supervisions each week where you are taught in small groups (usually of 2-3 students); this is what really distinguishes our teaching from other courses.

Homerton accepts around 30 natural scientists (Natscis) each year, and around 15 of these have applied via the “Biological” route. They form a strong collaborative community within the college, and we run a number of events for them including the annual Natural Sciences dinner, study sessions and guest lectures.

Our Fellows in Natural Sciences are lecturers and researchers whose job it is to supervise you and direct your studies. When not teaching you, they research subjects such as the control of invasive species, the structure of viral genomes, fate choice in blood cells, animal camouflage, glucose metabolism and cancer diagnosis. 

When you arrive at Cambridge, you will meet your 1st-year Director of Studies, Dr Paul Elliott. Paul will be responsible for guiding you through the first year and you will have regular progress meetings with him, along with lots of social events. When you move into the 2nd year and become more focussed on specific subjects, Homerton has dedicated Fellows and Directors of Studies to help you progress:

  • Zoology, Plant Sciences: Dr Paul Elliott,
  • Pathology, Neurobiology, Cellular Biology: Dr Julia Kenyon
  • Biochemistry, Chemistry: Dr Jo Haywood
  • Experimental Psychology: Dr David Belin
  • Earth Sciences: Dr Penny Barton

Our fellows share the responsibility for guiding our students through their courses, and conduct many of their supervisions personally. It is their job to push you to be your very best, but also to help you cope with the pressures of an intense course. We also want you to enjoy yourselves, and so we will organise the occasional curry or pizza night to bring everyone together. The sense of community within our scientists is what makes us stand out as a college…you will frequently find our scientists working together, supporting each other and socialising together.  

At Homerton, we place particular emphasis on helping students to gain additional research experience during the vacations. Many of our students have gained prestigious internships during their time at Cambridge. We take great pride in the fact that the majority of our students progress on to Masters degrees/doctorates and exciting international careers.

Homerton Staff

We have a number of fellows who specialise in Biological and Chemical disciplines. You will definitely encounter them whilst at Cambridge, and some you will get to know well. These include:

  • Dr Penny Barton, who specialises in seismic imaging of the interior of the Earth's crust and lithosphere.
  • Dr Paul Elliott, whose research involves the biology and control of aquatic invasive species.
  • Dr Joanna Haywood, who specialises in inorganic Chemistry.
  • Dr Anna Hughes, whose research focusses on how camouflage patterns in animals interfere with motion perception.
  • Dr Melanie Keene, whose work focusses on the History of Science and teaching
  • Dr David Kent, whose research focusses on fate choice in blood stem cells and how changes in their regulation lead to cancers.
  • Dr Julia Kenyon, whose work focusses on the structure of viral genomes.
  • Dr Linda King, whose work focusses on myocardial ischaemia and perturbations in glucose metabolism.
  • Dr Andre Neves, whose works focusses on developing molecular imaging techniques for cancer diagnosis.
  • Dr David Belin, whose work focusses on the neural, cellular and molecular substrates of impulsive/compulsive disorders.

We also have a rolling roster of research fellows who can be on hand to help with specific questions about career progression!

For Natural Sciences admissions, Homerton does not require STEP papers, nor do we currently ask for any additional qualifications or tests beyond those that are required by the University in general.  We take a holistic approach to applications, and our selection of students is based on school record, references, performance in the pre-interview written assessments, and performance at interview.

Our student body is diverse and we are keen to get applications from great students from all backgrounds. There are really only two prerequisites for an application:

  1. That you have a genuine passion and enthusiasmfor Science
  2. That you are capable of meeting the entrance requirements for the course

The standard offer for entry for Natural Sciences is A*A*A at A Level or equivalent. Although we do occasionally consider applicants with 2 A-levels, most applicants have at least three of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics to A Level. Your A-level subjects may have an effect on which subjects you can take in the first year, but  Biology of Cells, Earth Sciences, Evolution and Behaviour and Physiology of Organisms do not require any particular A-level subjects.

If you are taking other qualifications (eg Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers, Access to HE Diploma, international qualifications), please refer to the Undergraduate Study website ( or ask us for advice (

Applicants for Natural Sciences will take a pre-interview written assessment in their schools or colleges in the year of application. For further information on the registration deadline and date of the assessment, please have a look here.  Please also visit the Cambridge pre-interview assessment dates and costs page for full details. More detail on the application process, the format and content for the assessment is available in the online Prospectus

If you’d like to visit Homerton and the Science departments at Cambridge, it would be worth coming to one of the Open Days in early July. Homerton is one of the colleges that is hosting an information session in the morning, and you can then visit the departments in the afternoon. Please sign up at:

Alternatively, if you are interested in coming to visit Homerton at any time, please e-mail Dr Paul Elliott, the Scientific Admissions Tutor, at  Paul can arrange for you to chat to one of our Directors of Studies when you visit, and arrange for tours of the college.