< Previous page ^ Table of Contents Next page >

Report of the Strategic Committee for the Natural Sciences Tripos on Mathematics in Part IA of the Tripos

The STRATEGIC COMMITTEE FOR THE NATURAL SCIENCES TRIPOS beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. The Report of the Review Committee for the Natural Sciences Tripos was published in Reporter, 1997-98, p. 282. The Strategic Committee have considered the recommendations contained in the Review Committee's Report, and have concluded that one of the questions requiring their urgent attention is the place of Mathematics in Part IA of the Tripos.

2. Mathematics is currently optional in Part IA. The examination includes three mathematical subjects (Mathematics, Quantitative Biology, and Elementary Mathematics for Biologists), pitched at different levels, but it is not compulsory to offer any of them; in determining a candidate's class the marks for any mathematical subject offered are taken into account only if this results in an improvement in the candidate's position in the class-list.

3. In their Report (paragraph 5), the Review Committee recommended that all candidates for Part IA should be required to offer one of the three mathematical subjects and that the marks obtained should count towards a candidate's class. This recommendation has attracted widespread support; it was warmly welcomed by all the authorities who submitted comments, except the Faculty Board of Biology. The Strategic Committee agree with the views expressed by the Review Committee, and they now propose amendments of the regulations for the Tripos to give effect to the Review Committee's recommendation.

4. The Strategic Committee have considered the question of responsibility for the three mathematical subjects and the courses leading to them. They endorse the recommendation of the Review Committee that the Faculty Board of Biology should in future be responsible both for Quantitative Biology and for Elementary Mathematics for Biologists. With regard to the subject Mathematics, and the associated lecture courses Mathematics A and Mathematics B, for which the Faculty Board of Mathematics are currently responsible, the Strategic Committee have not yet reached a conclusion. Since this subject and the associated courses are of direct relevance to the scientific subjects which fall within the ambit of the Faculty of Physics and Chemistry, the Committee are considering the implications of providing for the responsibility to be shared between the Faculty Board of Mathematics and the Faculty Board of Physics and Chemistry. The Committee intend to return to this question during the course of 1999-2000; in the meantime the existing arrangements concerning responsibility for the subject Mathematics will continue unchanged.

5. The Review Committee proposed that the three existing mathematical examination subjects, and the lecture courses leading to them, should continue substantially unchanged; however, they suggested that some reduction in the amount of material covered might be desirable. The Strategic Committee are asking the Faculty Boards concerned to consider this suggestion, with a view to replanning the courses for the academical year 2000-01.

6. Several of the authorities who commented on the Report of the Review Committee suggested that, if Mathematics is made compulsory in Part IA, a procedure should be introduced to ensure that students take the course appropriate to their abilities and attainments. The Strategic Committee are of the view that it is not practicable to legislate for this, and that the choice of course must be left to the judgement of Directors of Studies. They note that similar arrangements operate satisfactorily in other Triposes (e.g. Modern and Medieval Languages and Classics), where Directors of Studies advise their students on the appropriate course according to the ground that they have covered before coming into residence; the Committee are satisfied that a similar system can operate effectively in the case of the Natural Sciences Tripos.

7. The Strategic Committee recommend:

That the regulations for the Natural Sciences Tripos (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 362) be amended, with effect from 1 October 2000, as follows:

Regulation 9.

By amending the entries for Quantitative Biology and Elementary Mathematics for Biologists so as to read:

Quantitative Biology   Faculty Board of Biology
Elementary Mathematics for Biologists

Regulations 15 and 17.

By amending the regulations so as to read:

15. The subjects of examination in Part IA, which shall be divided into two groups, A and B, shall be as follows:

Group A

Biology of Cells Materials and Mineral Sciences
Biology of Organisms Physics
Chemistry Physiology

Group B

Quantitative Biology Mathematics
Elementary Mathematics for Biologists

The maximum marks allocated to each subject shall be in the following proportions:

Each subject in Group A 100
Quantitative Biology 75
Elementary Mathematics for Biologists 50
Mathematics 75

17. Every candidate shall offer three subjects from Group A and one subject from Group B. A candidate taking the examination under the provisions of Regulation 2(b) shall not offer Biology of Cells, Biology of Organisms, or Physiology if he or she has previously obtained honours in the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos.

30 June 1999


< Previous page ^ Table of Contents Next page >

Cambridge University Reporter, 28 July 1999
Copyright © 1999 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.