PBS4, aka Experimental Psychology, is a compulsory module for PBS students, and there are 3 lectures and 2 two hour practical sessions each week. One of these practical’s will be experimental and related to the lecture content whilst the other will be a statistics class. You will likely have one supervision per week for this module, usually requiring you to submit either an essay or short answers for it.

The lectures introduce many aspects of psychology, giving a taste of a variety of topics. In Michaelmas you will learn about psychophysics (from a physical event to its psychological perception), attention, learning (Pavlov’s dogs and Skinner), memory and higher functions including executive functions (Phineas Gage) and consciousness. In Lent term the course moves on to the psychology of language and rationality (judgments and decision-making). This course finishes for PBS students half way through Lent term, owing to PBS students taking four modules whilst NatScis only take three. As such, whilst first term will feel exceptionally busy, pressure eases out substantially around February. Although lectures stop, it is common for supervisions to continue throughout the rest of Lent and Easter so that you keep on top of revision, and the statistics classes continue until the end of Lent term.

The practical sessions will reinforce the lecture material, and will have you in the lab carrying out a variety of experiments including some of those mentioned in the lectures. Five of the practical’s in total will be assessed, requiring you to write a lab report on what you have done during the sessions in order to avoid negative marking of 1.5% per fail (although it is very difficult to fail these, particularly as if your first attempt does not pass, you will be given the chance to make corrections and resubmit). Most write-ups will require the use of specific statistical tests which you will be taught in stats workshop practical’s.

At the end of the year you will take two exams – one paper being 2/3rds essays and 1/3rdshort answer questions, and the other practical paper requiring you to design an experiment and answer a range of statistics questions, much like PBS2.

More information can be found at:



The Natural Sciences Society of St John's College