SHIT SUBJECT: The Sciences

VOTE NOW: We know, we’ve stretched the definition of ‘Science’ quite far.

2016 architecture Arts cambridge tripos computer science Engineering maths medicine Natsci psychology Sciences subject theology tripos worst worst subject

The Tab is on a mission to find the very worst degree of the lot. Our disgruntled readers voted ASNaC to be Cambridge’s shittest Arts Tripos, narrowly seeing off competition from Classics, Geography, and HSPS. 

You scientists might have thought that you were off the hook, but alas, the mighty fist of the Tab strikes us all.

Whilst you sit there all smug, confident in the knowledge that you’ll probably have a job at the end of this shitstorm unlike your good-for-nothing Arts brethren, deep down you know that your subjects are just as bad, if not worse. Not only have you sacrificed any form of a social life outside of your practicals, problem sheets and Saturday lectures: let’s face it, you’re probably still struggling to find your first girlfriend.

It’s time to vent and let that pent up nerd anger loose. So put that calculator down and vote at the end of the article for 2016’s shittest Science Tripos at Cambridge.


In the same way a mathmo’s problem-sheet would bring a PhysNatSci to tears, handing over any Physics questions to the humble Engineer may just drive them over the edge. Could anyone estimate, therefore, just how little of the Maths Tripos the simple-minded Engineer could complete? Certainly not the Engineer. They multiply any half-baked assessment they make by ten “just to be on the safe side”.

You can pretty much guarantee any Engineer you live with will self-professedly become the pseudo-DIY-maintenance man in your accommodation, hacking away at the exposed inner wirings of a microwave while the only qualification that they have is in making bridges stand up (i.e. a skill set familiar to anyone who’s ever opened up a box of lego). The engineer will keep prodding away at wires in the future, at a company like Dyson, Rolls Royce or Land Rover until they either get caught up in a middle-managing consultancy job or the last crumbling bastions of British industry have all died away.

Pros: An engineer can fix your laptop

Cons: If the circuitry inside is comparable to their GCSE electronics course


Sometimes not even certain employment prospects can get you through the day.

Computer Science

Computer scientists spend all day constructing algorithms which you’ll never understand while you spend all day socialising, the one algorithm they’ll never seem to understand. A compsci will spend all of his time (nine times out of ten, believe us, it’s a he) in a group setting playing on his phone, changing colour schemes on HTML5 and sitting smugly when he’s able to crack Matlab. You may have thought you’d signed up to play with computers all day, but the truth is most of what they do is maths and physics.

As a lowly, jealous arts student you may joke about them being on the spectrum, or go in for constant comparisons to Moss from the IT Crowd but it’ll only be to mask your insecurity over your relative job prospects. As they rake in the millions by selling their pretentious startup app to Facebook, addressing thousands of people at an Entrepreneurs’ fair, mustering up fake charisma (remember, they were a compsci after all), you’ll sit there seething, reading about their success on a tablet they probably made.

Pros: You could make a startup with a compsci

Cons: You’d have to become friends with a compsci


Did you think you were good at maths before you arrived in Cambridge? Well, good luck. You might have sailed through school at the top of your class the all the way through but in Cambridge you’ll find yourself distinctly shit. You’ll be wallowing in your own self-pity, stuck in the library until closing every night, as Cindies photos of those people you vaguely recognise from down the corridor appear on Facebook. The jumped-up NatScis who think they can do your subject will increasingly irritate you as they regale stories of “impossible lecture courses”, which turns out to be material you covered in the first week of Michaelmas.

Pros: You’ll land any job you apply for

Cons: Your lack of social skills may get you fired after a week

Math-mo spotted in the wild. (For a mathmo, even their own desk is the wild.)


Did you think you were going to learn how to save the animals you love? Congratulations, you are now on the career path to spending days putting down old dogs and getting hairballs out of cats. Forget about learning how to treat sick animals; first, you have to get really good at chasing sheep around and also memorise how every single animal under the sun has sex. Oh, and pigs really do have corkscrew-shaped penises. Being a vet is like being a medic, except instead of genuinely impressed looks from people, you just get asked what your favourite animal is every single time you tell anyone what you’re studying. Vet-Med students spend as much time on farms as they do in lectures if their lambing Facebook photos are anything to go by.


Architecture is well known for being the most expensive degree, even when excluding the acid required to design postmodern bike sheds. You splash out on £200 drawing boards and modelling materials, only for the tutors to rip apart your careful designs and tell you to “have a go” at casting phallic-shaped bricks from concrete because they “don’t know if they will fall apart or not”. This epitomises the tedium of scale drawing by hand and “learning by doing”.

Architecture then shits on your self-confidence: most days start with crit, where the design tutors argue amongst themselves as to the best way to belittle your work in front of the whole year. The shockingly poor facilities in which only 6 people can use the workshop at any one time is put to shame by most school DT workshops. Fortunately, they’ll be able to wipe away the tears amassed from long studio hours with their UCL rejection letters.

Architecture is edgy enough that they’re alcoholic despair drink is port, because wine is too mainstream


Being a medic in Cambridge is like being in a middle management job: you work hard but nobody cares, and there is no way you’re getting invited to the office party. Although you may feel like you have moral superiority over other, non-vocational degrees, by the time you reach fifth year and your only friends are medics, your old friends will be having kids, something you’re terrified by after your Human Reproduction lessons. But hey, at least you now know the neuroscience behind the alcohol addiction you’re slowly falling into.

Pros: With all the knowledge you acquire, one day you might be able to save a life

Cons: When all the doctors have fucked off to countries with proper healthcare systems, you might not be able to save that life


OMG, total curveball! Theology, a science? Well, it would’ve been at some point in Cambridge’s long history. Maybe before 1859.

Pros:  College Deans provide the best brunches

Cons: It’s a pity God doesn’t exist

See, we do listen to our readers. 

Natural Sciences

So you like science, huh? Well here’s an idea: why not combine the subject you love with a subject you’re semi-indifferent to, and another you’d never previously heard of with zero application to your final degree. Sound good? It get’s better. Try an obscene workload, countless supervisions, endless practicals and a cohort of faceless students who by week 2 resemble something out of Dawn of the Dead.

Surely the fun can’t stop there? How are you going to last the long and boring weekend without a single contact hour to sate your thirst for the universe. Well no worries pal, you’ve got 9ams on a Saturday to look forward to. What’s the end result? A very large proportion of Cambridge students left sobbing into their pillows and regretting their decision not to take a humanity. 

You’ll be contemplating a switch to Oxford, where they do things normally, by Lent term. Just remember, there was a time when you actually liked science.

Pros: Career potential

Cons: You’re a NatSci

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS)

Studying psychology does not mean you can read people’s minds, offer relationship advice or teach yourself CBT. It does let you know the reasons why you are drowning your woes in vodka instead of running a marathon.

In fact, actually learning about stress and depression probably makes you more likely to get both.

Freud is like the Voldemort that is best to avoid altogether, and if you want to hack off your supervisors just mention He Who Must Not Be Named. Also, all the people who have made an impact in the psychology sphere seem to either be working at Cambridge, or best friends with someone in the department, so it is very difficult to slag off someone without offending multiple rather important people. In reality, you often find yourself learning the life cycle of a flea, getting conned into doing Maths (God forbid) or reading children’s picture books for 2 hours for no obvious reason.

Pros: You can also make intellectual comparisons about the college parent system and the Oedipus complex

Cons: You’ll spend your whole degree convincing other people (and yourself) it’s a real science

The psychology of a psychology student, right here

Vote now on Cambridge’s shittest Science Tripos. If you’ve had fun regaling some old, tired subject stereotypes with us, then read SHIT SUBJECT: The Arts for more.