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Year 2

In the second year, students also take four papers. This year provides a foundation for the research-led teaching of the final year while also allowing students to begin to specialise in those areas that interest them.

NOTE: Course guides displayed on this page are for papers currently offered under different Triposes, but which will form part of the PBS Tripos. As such they are for information only, papers are subject to change prior to the start of the course.

All students take the following paper:

PBS 3: Social and Developmental Psychology

Course Organiser: Dr Alex Kogan

This paper aims to provide representative coverage of classic and contemporary theory and research in social and developmental psychology. In the first term, students will learn key meta-theories in social psychology in a series of introductory lectures, and then will examine specific core topics of the field in subsequent lectures, including social cognition, sociocultural approaches, the self, well-being, and prosociality. In the second term, students will study the key processes involved in the developmental transformation of social, emotional, and cognitive 
behaviour across the life span.


Students choose between one of two groups of papers. Either PBS 4 with two optional papers, or PBS 5PBS 6 and one optional paper:

PBS 4: Biological and Cognitive Psychology

Course Organiser: Dr Simone Schnall

Paper Guide

This paper covers biological and cognitive topics involving the connection of brain, body, and behaviour, and will do so from a social sciences perspective. Specific content includes neuroanatomy, neuroendocrinology and neurophysiology, as well as learning, memory, judgment, decision making, intelligence, and cognition and emotion.

PBS 5: Experimental Psychology

Course Organiser: Dr Kate Plaisted-Grant (From the Natural Sciences Tripos)

Paper Guide

Students are introduced to a broad range of key topics in Experimental Psychology and are given the opportunity to learn about experimental procedures in Psychology through practical classes.


PBS 6: Research skills project

Students undertake a project to develop a core research skill, assessed by submission of a report of 5,000 words.


Optional Papers

The list of optional papers may vary from year to year but will typically include papers in:

  • biological anthropology
  • history and philosophy of science
  • social anthropology
  • the sociology of education
  • neurobiology
  • philosophy


A student who has not previously completed the PBS first year (those switching from another course or affiliated students) must, except with the permission of the Committee of Management, offer PBS 1 and PBS 2 as their optional papers if he or she has not previously taken these papers within another Tripos.

With the exception of the research project, students sit a written exam in each paper at the end of the year.