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 Engineering, Mathematics and some 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 Engineering (MEng), Master of Mathematics (MMath), or Master of Natural Sciences (MSci).

On this page you can find information about:


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
Human, Social, and Political Sciences  
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.

In exceptional circumstances, for example where there is satisfactory evidence that a candidate has been hindered by illness or other grave cause, the University might declare you to have deserved honours and the following statement may be appended to any certificate issued:

This candidate, who was absent from part of the examination for good cause, performed with credit in a substantial part of it. In accordance with the University's regulations the authorities concerned are of the opinion that it would be unfair to classify the candidate on the basis of the incomplete performance since they believe that this would not adequately represent the candidate's attainment. They have accordingly agreed to declare the candidate to have deserved honours in this examination.

Students who do not reach the honours standard may be awarded an Ordinary BA Degree.

The structure of graduate courses at the University of Cambridge

Graduate Admissions summarise each qualification type offered by the University: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/qualifications.

Cambridge Terms

The academic year commences on 1st October and finishes on 30th September each year. The year is divided into three terms, with a Long vacation:

Michaelmas term (October – December)
Lent term (January – March)
Easter term (April – June)
Long vacation (July – September)

Undergraduate students are required to be in residence for each of the three terms (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter). Graduate students are usually in residence for the full academic year.

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