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Natural Sciences Tripos

 

Preparing for the first year : General Information 

The pre-recorded NST Induction Lecture:

You may need to log in to Raven before you can access this online lecture. Please do so using this link (rather than the one in the window below).

The word "Tripos" is simply the way that Cambridge says "study course". The Natural Sciences Tripos prides itself on being one of the broadest courses of study available to undergraduates studying science. It is jointly run by sixteen Departments of the University and has an exceptionally flexible system allowing you to tailor your time at Cambridge towards the particular subjects you wish to study.

That doesn't mean that you cover them in any less depth - students will achieve the same standard and depth in their final year as graduates from narrower courses elsewhere. You get to learn a lot more besides! If it sounds like hard work, don't be put off. The Cambridge teaching system is very supportive - talk to a few students to find out more.

What subjects can I study?

In the first year, Part IA, of the Natural Sciences you read FOUR subjects from those listed below. You take THREE experimental subjects and one mathematical subject.

Experimental Subjects

Mathematics

Biology of Cells

Mathematics*

Chemistry

Mathematical Biology (MB)

Earth Sciences

 

Evolution and Behaviour

 

Materials Science*

 

Physics*

 

Physiology of Organisms

 

*These courses assume that you have A level Mathematics (or equivalent). 

Mathematics is usually taken by those taking mainly physical science subjects and if you are taking Physics, you must do this course.   It is run in two streams (A and B) which run simultaneously and cover the same core material. The A course covers less ground and has a lower level of mathematical sophistication than the B course. The B course proceeds more rapidly and at greater depth. In general, the B course may be more suited to you if you have taken double Mathematics at A-level or an equivalent qualification. Both streams include a module on Scientific Computing.

Mathematical Biology is designed to be especially relevant for those studying mainly biological subjects in the first year and beyond. 

Students without A Level maths will take this option but will take a slightly separate stream during the last 3 weeks of the Michaelmas Term. They will also be required to complete 20-40 hours of self study covering the first 4 chapters of Mathematics for Biological Scientists by Aitkin, Broadhurst and Hladky. Additional materials and practice questions on this content are available here:

https://www.vle.cam.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=122471

It is also recommended that Colleges provide some additional supervisions in order to help to consolidate the self-study material.

If you have a Maths A Level, your College Director of Studies will advise you as to which Maths course to opt for.

Each of these subjects have their own course website.

The timetable

**NST Teaching arrangments for 2021-22**

The aim is to deliver as much teaching in person, we do however have courses with class sizes too great to meet the risk assessment requirements for lectures in any available indoor space.  Practical teaching is being prioritised.  Specific details will be provided by each course on their websites and will remain under review throughout the academic year.

 

Lectures

Lectures are scheduled between 9:00 and 1:00 Monday to Saturdays. All courses are lectured three times weekly, on a two-day cycle. You are expected to attend all three lectures in each subject every week (twelve lectures in all).

 

Mon, Wed, Fri

Tue, Thu, Sat

9-10

Chemistry

Mathematics, MB

10-11

Biology of Cells, Computer Science

Physics

11-12

Materials Science

Evolution and Behaviour

12-1

Earth Sciences

Physiology of Organisms

Location of lectures

The location of the FIRST lecture in the Michaelmas Term for each of the courses is listed below:

Biology of Cells

Online

Chemistry

Online

Earth Sciences

Physiology Lecture Theatre, adjacent to the Department of Earth Sciences

Evolution and Behaviour

Online

Materials Science

Online

Mathematical Biology

Online

Mathematics

Course A - Online
Course B - Online

Physics

Online

Physiology of Organisms

Online

Practical classes

You will be expected to undertake practical work in each subject. The subjects vary in the way in which practical classes are scheduled and you will be told more about each subject in either your first lecture or the first scheduled practical class. Practical registration will be done on your behalf by your College - and you will receive an email before lectures start with a complete lecture and practical class timetable. It is important to wait until you know when your practical classes are, before you arrange any supervisions.

Once you have received the email informing you of your practical classes you can go to www.timetable.cam.ac.uk in order to create an electronic personalised timetable. Here you will be able to select your subjects and ‘Add’ the lectures and practicals. In order to add your allocated practical sessions you can select the subject, click on  ‘Practicals’ in the ‘Module’  box to expand the list, and then ‘Add’  those practical sessions which apply.

Supervisions

Supervisions are small-group teaching sessions arranged through your College. Most supervisions are taught by a member of your College and in groups of two or three. This is your opportunity to go over again material from the lectures and practical classes and clarify any points you are unclear of. Make the most of your supervisions - ask questions and discuss areas that you need further help in. This is your best chance at learning and understanding new things.

Your College Director of Studies should provide you with substantial support in arranging supervisions for each subject you are reading. He or she will also review periodically your performance based on reports made by each of your supervisors. This normally happens once a term.

Further information

All Part IA subjects have web sites - links to these can be found from the Contacts section of the NST website.

Students will also be automatically registered in Moodle, an online learning support environment.