Cambridge Philosophical Society


Cambridge Philosophical Society
Formation1819; 203 years ago (1819)
TypeScientific Society
Legal statusRoyal Charter, granted by King William IV in 1832
Focusfor the purpose of promoting scientific inquiry
HeadquartersCambridge, CB2 1RX
United Kingdom
Honorary Members and Fellows
Professor S Conway Morris
Main organ
The Council

The Cambridge Philosophical Society (CPS) is a scientific society at the University of Cambridge. It was founded in 1819. The name derives from the medieval use of the word philosophy to denote any research undertaken outside the fields of law, theology and medicine. The society was granted a royal charter by King William IV in 1832.

The society has published several scientific journals, including Biological Reviews (established 1926) and Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society (formerly entitled Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, published since 1843). Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society was published between 1821–1928, but was then discontinued.


The society was founded in 1819 by Edward Clarke, Adam Sedgwick and John Stevens Henslow, and is Cambridge's oldest scientific society.[1]

Its prime purpose is to "keep alive the spirit of inquiry". For almost 200 years, this spirit has been kept alive by its members and its activities. The society is independent of the University of Cambridge, although it is located within the Cambridge compound. The Society has provided an open forum and played a key role in raising the profile of the sciences to the public.

Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society (F.C.P.S.)

Members of the Society are called Fellows and are permitted to use the 'FCPS' post-nominal title. Fellows are usually academics or graduate students involved in mathematical or scientific research within the University. A Fellow must be recommended in writing by both a Fellow of the Society who has been a member for at least three years and a person of appropriate standing, who knows the candidate in a professional capacity. Approved candidates are elected at open meetings of the Society following proposal at Council Meetings.[2]

The equivalent organisation for philosophers is the Cambridge Moral Sciences Club.


The society publishes one of the oldest mathematical journals in history, including the "Mathematical Proceedings" (1843).[3] It also publishes the "Biological Reviews" since 1926.


The society organizes lectures given by prominent scientists and mathematicians.[4] The lectures are free and open to all who are interested to attend.


  1. ^ "Our History". Cambridge Philosophical Society. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Membership". cambridge philosophical society.
  3. ^
  4. ^

Further reading

  • A. Rupert Hall (1969). The Cambridge Philosophical Society: A History 1819-1969. Cambridge Philosophical Society. ISBN 0-9500348-1-9.
  • Susannah Gibson (2019). The Spirit of Inquiry: How One Extraordinary Society Shaped Modern Science. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198833376

External links

  • Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • University of Cambridge