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Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the requirements for the B.A. Degree by Honours

The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. This Report is a sequel to the earlier Consultative Report on the requirements for the B.A. Degree by Honours (Reporter, p. 647). It formally proposes the changes in Ordinances necessary to implement the proposals contained in the Consultative Report. The opportunity has also been taken to respond to remarks on the Consultative Report at the Discussion held on 12 May 2009 (Reporter, p. 790).

2. The earlier Report was consultative, to gauge the Regent House's opinion and in particular to allow those who disagreed with its findings to make that disagreement known: that only one member spoke in dissent at the Discussion of 12 May reflects, in the Council's and General Board's view, the value of the two cycles of consultation with Faculty Boards and other bodies which took place prior to the production of the Consultative Report. The Senior Tutors' Committee was fully involved in these consultations (and two of their representatives sit on the General Board's Education Committee which was responsible for those consultations and for drawing up the ensuing proposals). The Education Committee has recently confirmed its support for the proposals. In the Discussion it was suggested that the General Board should take a careful look at the Tripos system per se: this is precisely what they sought views on in the earlier consultations. The main outcome of those consultations resulted in the Consultative Report's conclusion.

3. Reference was made at the Discussion to the QAA and external benchmarks. The QAA (which is more than an advisory body) endorsed the expeditious implementation of a principle which the General Board had already accepted. The references, in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Consultative Report, to the Framework for Higher Education and the Higher Education Credit Framework were included to provide national benchmarks which cannot lightly be dismissed. External interest in this matter (which is likely to be strengthened by the current public interest in standards in higher education generally) cannot prudently be ignored. Given the level of external scrutiny of standards across the HE sector, the central bodies consider that the University should accept the principle that a Cambridge Honours Degree should require satisfactory completion of a course of the depth and intellectual level typically associated with a Part II. The Council and the General Board stand by their view that maintaining the status quo involves reputational risk. The General Board have not accepted each and every recommendation arising from QAA reports but, in this matter, it would be of concern not only to the QAA but also to other external parties if the University did not now proceed with the proposal advanced in the Consultative Report.

4. The proposals are not intended, as was suggested at the Discussion of the Consultative Report, to discourage interdisciplinarity or to discard the flexibility of the Tripos. Students will still, within the regulations for a particular Tripos, be able to borrow papers from (or to transfer to) other Triposes. The General Board do not wish to constrain institutions wishing to offer single part Triposes which require (and are restricted to) students who have completed another Honours examination, as is the case with Management Studies.

5. As the Consultative Report made clear, the number of students likely to be affected by the proposals (c. 0.5% of the student body) would be small. Reference was made in the Discussion to the requirements for the Ordinary B.A. Degree, and the General Board will give detailed consideration to revising the regulations for that degree to ensure that suitably qualified students who are unwilling or unable to take a Part II, but who have met the residence requirements can continue to graduate by this route.

6. As stated in the Consultative Report the legitimate expectations of existing students and those with offers of a place must, however, be preserved. It is therefore proposed that the requirement for a Part II for graduation with Honours is introduced for candidates entering in 2010. In consequence any change to the regulations would not be effective before the academical year 2012-13 at the earliest (2011-12 for affiliated students).

7. The Council and the General Board recommend:

I. That the regulations for the degree of Bachelor of Arts by Honours (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 422) be amended as set out in the Annex to this Report with effect from 1 October 2011 for Affiliated Students and with effect from 1 October 2012 for other students.

II. That the regulations for Affiliated Students (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 173) be amended as set out in the Annex to this Report with effect from 1 October 2011.

20 July 2009 ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor A. M. DONALD D. LOWRY
 N. BAMPOS R. J. DOWLING DEBBIE LOWTHER
 NIGEL BROWN DAVID GOOD MAVIS MCDONALD
 WILLIAM BROWN CHRISTOPHER HUM RACHAEL PADMAN
 M. R. CLARK F. P. KELLY DAVID SIMON
 M. J. DAUNTON VANESSA LAWRENCE JOAN M. WHITEHEAD
    
8 July 2009 ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor SIMON FRANKLIN J. G. P. SISSONS
 N. BAMPOS ANDREW GAMBLE SAM WAKEFORD
 JOHN BELL RACHAEL PADMAN I. H. WHITE
 WILLIAM BROWN J. RALLISON YANG XIA
 PHILIP FORD JEREMY SANDERS

ANNEX

BACHELOR OF ARTS

By Honours

Regulation 2.

By amending the regulation so as to read:

2. On completing the requisite number of terms, a student shall be qualified to proceed to the degree of Bachelor of Arts by Honours if not earlier than the last but one of the terms that the student needs for that degree he or she has obtained honours as follows:

  (a) in Part II or Part III of any Tripos;
or (b) in Part IIA or Part IIB of any Tripos;
or (c) in the Linguistics Tripos (Old Regulations), or the Management Studies Tripos;

provided that a student who matriculated before 1 January 2010 shall be qualified to proceed to the degree of Bachelor of Arts by Honours under the regulations for the degree of Bachelor of Arts by Honours in force on that date.

AFFILIATED STUDENTS

Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic

By removing from paragraph (i) the words 'and if the student obtains honours therein the right to proceed to the B.A. Degree under the same conditions as if he or she had also obtained honours in another Honours Examination,'.

English

By deleting the words '; and if the student obtains honours, either in Part I, or in Part II the right to proceed to the B.A. Degree under the same conditions as if he or she had also obtained honours in another Honours Examination'.

History

By removing from paragraph (i) the words 'and if the student obtains honours therein the right to proceed to the B.A. Degree under the same conditions as if he or she had also obtained honours in another Honours Examination,'.

Medical and Veterinary Sciences

By deleting the entry for this subject.


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Cambridge University Reporter 23 July 2009
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.