Preview version of my chapter on Newton and other Trinity Physicists.
The structure of the Natural Sciences
Tripos is unique among science
courses in British universities. It provides a very broad training in
the first year (Part IA), in which you have to take three experimental
subjects and one of the Maths options. A course from the Computer
Science Tripos may be substituted for one of the experimental subjects.
The second year (Part IB) allows some degree of specialisation, but the
third (Part II) and possibly fourth (Part III) years are usually devoted
to a single area of science, sometimes one that the student had not
even met before coming to Cambridge. With seven sciences available in
Part IA, and nineteen (plus Mathematics) in Part IB, the range of
possibilities is huge.
Trinity has a very strong tradition in
Natural Sciences. From Isaac
Newton onwards, many famous scientists have studied or taught here,
among them 29 winners of Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, or
Medicine. The traditions of the past are reflected today in the size of
Trinity’s teaching staff and its breadth of scientific interests. Those
currently teaching Natural Sciences in the College are listed below,
together with the subjects for which they are responsible.
you apply for Natural Sciences at Cambridge you are asked to classify
yourself as “biological” or “physical”. So far as Trinity is concerned
the distinction is merely an organisational one and does not commit you
to any specific course of study within the Natural Sciences Tripos. All
applications are assessed in the same way and offers are made to those
whom we think most likely to do well here irrespective of the subjects
in which they hope to specialise.
Applicants are asked in
advance of their interview which of their school
subjects for the present interests them most but this is done only to
guide us in matching interviewers to candidates. Everyone who comes for
interview will be seen for about 45 minutes by two members of the
teaching staff in Natural Sciences. Prior to this there will be a
written component which will be used as a basis for discussion at
interview. Candidates should familiarise themselves with the rubric and
style of questions by attempting typical questions available below:
Sample Physics and Mathematics Paper
Although the interview is likely to focus on your declared particular
interests you must be prepared to talk about any of your A-level
subjects. As in other subjects at Trinity, the interview is strongly
academic in character.
The standard conditional offer for Natural Sciences will be A*AA; we may
also ask for a high grade in a relevant subject being taken only at
AS-level. We expect to admit roughly 30 people for Natural Sciences each
Applicants should be taking three sciences at A level including
Mathematics. To study Physics at Trinity you will need either A-level
Physics or Mechanics modules in Further Mathematics and pass a
familiarity test from the teaching staff. If in doubt about the
suitability of your choice of A-level subjects you should seek advice
from the Admissions Office before submitting an application.