The structure of undergraduate courses at the University of Cambridge

All undergraduate courses at the University of Cambridge lead to a single degree, the Bachelor of Arts. When you graduate, providing you pass the necessary examinations, you will be awarded a BA Hons. (Cantab.). In some engineering and science subjects, you can study for a fourth year and obtain a second degree in addition to your BA; these integrated masters courses lead to either a Master of Natural Sciences (MSci) or Master of Engineering (MEng).

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The Tripos system

All Cambridge courses are assessed through examinations in broad subject areas called Triposes. Each Tripos is divided into one or more Parts and you need to complete a number of Parts in one or more Triposes to qualify for the B.A. degree. The table below illustrates the different ways in which Triposes are divided into Parts; there are some restrictions on how you can combine Parts together to make your degree. Most students choose to study all the Parts in a single Tripos but this is not always the case; some Triposes (e.g. Chemical Engineering and Management Studies) are only available from your second or third year at Cambridge.

Tripos Examples
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Degrees
Engineering   Part
IA
Part
IB
Part
IIA
Part
IIB
BA
MEng
Chemical Engineering  
(i.e. no direct entry on admission)  
Part
I
Part
IIA
Part
IIB
BA
MEng
Natural Sciences   Part
IA
Part
IB
Part
II
Part
III
BA
MSci
Economics  
Law  
Part
IA
Part
IB
Part
II
BA
Archaeology & Anthropology  
Theological and Religious Studies  
Part
I
Part
IIA
Part
IIB
BA
History   Part
I
Part
II
BA
Management Studies  
(i.e. no direct entry on admission)  
Single
Part
BA
Medical & Veterinary Sciences  
(i.e. transfer to another Tripos for a further year before taking a clinical course in medicine)  
Part
IA
Part
IB
BA

What you will graduate with

No official class is assigned to the overall degree issued by the University of Cambridge. Instead, each Part of a Tripos is self-contained and you obtain separate results for each one: there is no averaging out for a final degree. You may have heard the phrase "a double first", which means that a first class was achieved in two sets of examinations corresponding to two different Parts of Triposes.

Also, your degree certificate will not state the subject(s) that you have studied: the degree you receive is the BA degree. You do not, for example, get a BA in History but you could take a Part I in the Historical Tripos and a Part II in the Historical Tripos and thus qualify for the BA degree. The University will provide you with a comprehensive transcript listing the papers you took and the results obtained to supplement your degree certificate.

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