About Us

The title of our Society may sound slightly misleading when you consider the more modern definition of the word ‘philosophy’, but it is in fact the oldest scientific society in Cambridge. Founded in 1819 by a group of Cambridge luminaries, John Stevens Henslow, Adam Sedgwick and Edward Clarke it became a Body Corporate by virtue of a Charter granted by King William IV in 1832.

Photo: The Lecture Room of the Cambridge Philosophical Society: London Illustrated News, June 28, 1845

A champion for independent scientific thinking

The Cambridge Philosophical Society is what’s termed a learned and professional Society and was created with the charitable aim of ‘of promoting scientific inquiry, and of facilitating the communication of facts connected with the advancement of Philosophy and Natural History’. The aims of the Society today are no different from its founders’ and, put simply, we are here to promote research in all branches of science and to encourage the communication of the results of scientific research.

Run by our Members with access to all

The Society is an independent self-supporting Charity, associated with the University of Cambridge and governed by an elected Council of 21 senior academics. Currently we have 2,000 Society members, also known as Fellows.

We run a regular series of lectures by well-respected speakers on a wide range of subjects from biology and astronomy to engineering and physics as well as many other events that are free and open to all. We also arrange a programme of events and visits just for Members. Income for the Society is generated by the publication of our two journals - Biological Reviews and Mathematical Proceedings as well as Membership fees.

The Society offers everyone:

  • An absorbing programme of lectures during the Lent and Michaelmas Terms – free to all. Booking via Eventbrite is advised
  • Subscription to (or single purchase of) our two well-respected journals – Biological Reviews and Mathematical Proceedings
  • Free access to our annual one-day international meeting
  • Invitation to apply for our prestigious three-year Early Career Research Fellowships - known as Henslow Fellowships

The Society offers its Fellows and Members:

  • Reduced (free to postgraduate students) subscription to our two journals - Biological Reviews and Mathematical Proceedings
  • Annual summer visit
  • Regular department visits – to places of interest within the University of Cambridge
  • Access to travel grants – Fellows can apply for funds to attend conferences and visit laboratories etc. in the UK and abroad
  • Access to research studentships- Fellows can apply for funds to help continuation of an exceptionally promising piece of research beyond the completion of a PhD, or to allow extra time for the completion of a PhD which has been delayed by circumstances outside the applicant’s control.

Bye-Laws of the Society

The Society Bye-Laws adopted at the General Meeting on 2 July 2018 are available to view in full Bye Laws.


Discover our Journals & Books

From Darwin’s paper on evolution to the development of stem cell research, publications from the Society continue to shape the scientific landscape.


Join the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Become a Fellow of the Society and enjoy the benefits that membership brings. Membership costs £20 per year.

Join today

Upcoming Events

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Professor Lisa Hall

Professor Lisa Hall, CBE

  • 18:00 - 19:00 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre Michaelmas Term

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Professor Holger Babinsky

  • 18:00 - 19:00 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre Michaelmas Term

Larmor Lecture

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