Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

First year students

Priya, Zsófi, Nora and Lucy are first year PBS students

Welcome to the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences subject page at King’s. Here you will find an overview of the Cambridge course, information about studying PBS at King's, the teaching, and what will happen when you apply.

PBS at Cambridge

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences is a three-year course covering social, developmental, biological and behavioural psychology within the broader context of the behavioural sciences. It will appeal to students interested in the development of social behaviour, psychopathology, cognitive psychology, language, brain mechanisms, gender, family relationships and influences, personality and group social behaviour amongst many other topics.

In the first year (Part I), students take two compulsory papers introducing them to psychology and psychological inquiry and methods, and two optional papers selected from Humans in Biological Perspective; Language, Communication and Literacy; Evolution and Behaviour; Analysis of Politics; British Economic History; and an introduction to Computer Science.

In the second year (Part IIA) all students take four papers. Everybody studies social psychology plus a specialist paper chosen from a range of about nineteen options including biological or social anthropology, sociology, criminology, the sociology of education etc. For the two remaining papers students can either take Biological and Cognitive Psychology and a second specialist topic, or choose Experimental Psychology and undertake a research project (assessed by a 5,000 word essay).

In the final year (Part IIB) all students undertake a research dissertation (6,000 - 10,000 words) on a psychology topic of their choice as well as three further papers which may be selected from the Part IIA specialist list which includes Development and Psychopathology, Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, or additional psychology papers.

Further details of the course and options are available on the PBS course website.

PBS at King's

David Good and students

Graduation day: Kat, Sam and David Good in discussion

King's has always admitted a particularly large number of students in Psychology and related disciplines and provides a stimulating and supportive intellectual environment both inside and outside of the formal course curricula.

PBS students would normally attend two lectures a week for each paper as well as one or two college supervisions where they discuss written work and develop their reasoning and ideas. You may like to read further details of how teaching works.

When doing research for essays and dissertations, students have access to library resources and many welcoming places to work in King's. A virtual tour of King's College Library is available. Electronic resources are also excellent with high speed internet connections in student rooms and wi-fi in the library and public areas of college. Some papers include a practical element, which is carried out in Faculty laboratories. King's is conveniently situated just a few minutes walk from the Psychology laboratories, specialist libraries and lecture theatres, as well as the University Library.

After the course, many students pursue further study and research. PBS graduates are eligible for admission to professional courses in clinical, educational, forensic, or applied psychology. Other King's students have opted for alternative careers: the skills and knowledge you acquire on the PBS course could lead to careers in the media, management, government administration, finance or business, for example.

A student perspective


After her second term at King's, Lucy wrote about her experiences of studying PBS, including the first year timetable and workload, what it is like having supervisions, the social life, choosing a college and the application process. This is well worth reading to get a sense of what studying Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at King's is really like. 

King's PBS Fellows

Mirjana Bozic

Mirjana Bozic is a lecturer in the Department of Experimental Psychology. Her research focuses on language as a cognitive and neural system. She investigates the neural processes that support language comprehension, trying to understand how the underlying brain architecture supports the processing of linguistic information, and the nature of mental computations required for successful comprehension. 

David Good

David Good is a lecturer in the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology. Hs is interested in how our understanding of human communication can contribute to the design and use of new informational and communication technologies, as well as the role of social factors in the evolution of language and intelligence.

Applying to study PBS

applying for pbs

Applying with limited support?

We welcome applications for King's PBS from a wide range of academic backgrounds in the UK and beyond. Candidates are assessed strictly on the basis of their academic promise. 

The application process for all subjects is explained on our how to apply page, which we advise applicants to read thoroughly in combination with the details below about the pre-interview-assessment and interviews for Psychological and Behavioural Sciences specifically.

Subject requirements

There are no particular subject requirements: Mathematics, science subjects such as Biology, Chemistry or Physics, and humanities subjects will all be useful preparation for this course and Psychology is not a requirement. King's standard offer levels for a range of qualifications are listed on the entrance requirements page and we also provide general advice on subject choices.

pre-interview assessment

All candidates for Psychological and Behavioural Sciences are required to take the pre-interview admissions assessment for PBS, which will take place in schools and other assessment centres on 31 October 2018. You must be registered in advance (separately to your UCAS application) to take the assessment. The registration deadline is 15 October 2018 and there is a deadline of 30 September if you normally get exam adjustments for a disability/Specific Learning Difficulty/long-term illness. Your assessment centre must register you for the pre-interview assessment (you can't register yourself).

Brief information about written assessments
PBS assessment format and specimen papers
Important: If you're not registered by 15 October (30 Sept for special arrangements) you won't be able to take the assessment. Unfortunately, this would mean that your application is not valid.

Your performance in the assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application (see What are we looking for?).


Most (but not all) candidates are invited for interview in King's, which take place in early December. You will be asked to collect a text to read and think about in the half hour before your interview. You will then discuss the text with the interviewers.

Information about the interview options for international candidates are in the International Students section.

What are we looking for?

The most important criteria are enthusiasm, dedication and potential and we consider each case on an individual basis. This course requires a considerable commitment in terms of time and energy, as it is one of the most challenging psychology undergraduate courses in the UK. But it is well worth the effort!

We will be interested in:

  • your existing examination results which we consider carefully, taking into account your personal and educational background;
  • your academic interests and motivation as explained in your UCAS personal statement and explored further in interviews;
  • your school reference and predicted grades for any exams you have yet to take;
  • how you respond to topics/questions and present arguments in your written work;
  • your performance in the pre-interview written assessment for PBS;
  • how you approach questions designed to make you think in interviews - our interviewers will work closely with students invited for interviews to assess your suitability for the challenges of Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

At King's, we are looking for promise and potential. So although existing and predicted grades form a central criterion for admissions, we are careful to interpret grades in light of your personal and educational background. We assess each application individually. We are interested to learn about your existing knowledge and skills, but we endeavour also to find out how you would deal with the new materials and ideas you would encounter at Cambridge.

Reading, resources and events

Further information

Bodley's Court

Credit: Yudis Asnar (cropped)

Subjects | Undergraduate study | Back to the top