skip to content

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos


Please be advised that the PBS course structure will be changing from the 2024-25 academic year onwards. The information below is split based the year students enter the course.


For students who matriculated prior to the 2024-25 academic year

In the second year, students 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.

All students take the following paper:

PBS 3: Social and Developmental Psychology

This paper aims to provide representative coverage of classic and contemporary theory and research in social and developmental psychology. Students will  study the key processes involved in the developmental transformation of social, emotional, and cognitive behaviour across the life span, including the role of language in development. Students will also 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 norms and influence, person environment interactions and morality and culture.
PBS 4: Cognitive Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology 

This course covers the foundations of psychological study, including the mathematical and biological knowledge and skills required to engage with the research literature. The material on this course provides a foundation for all later study of psychology, providing students with the intellectual tools required to evaluate psychological material in later years. Teaching includes a range of techniques, including lectures and practicals.

Students also will need to take two optional papers.

Optional Papers

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

  • Biological anthropology
  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Neurobiology
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy

For students admitted to the PBS course from the 2024-25 academic year onwards

Part IB provides specialised training in Developmental Psychology and Biological Psychology, in addition to further developing the research skills for your third year project. 

You take four papers in total, two of which are compulsory:

  • PBS04: Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PBS05: Developmental Psychology

The optional papers are selected from a broad range. The subjects may change from year to year but typically include papers in:

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

You will be assessed via a range of laboratory reports, and written exams.