Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6204

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Vol cxli No 8

pp. 197–212


Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the future of Ordinary Examinations and the Ordinary B.A. Degree

The Council and the General Board beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In the Michaelmas Term 2007, the Education Committee of the General Board consulted Faculty Boards and other authorities on a number of issues relating to undergraduate teaching provision. In response to comments made in the consultation process, the Education Committee agreed to consider the future use of the Ordinary Examination and Ordinary B.A. Degree.

2. The Education Committee conducted a preliminary consultation of the future of the Ordinary B.A. Degree in the Michaelmas Term 2009. In the light of comments made in response to this consultation, proposals were refined and Faculty Boards, the Applications Committee of the Council, and other authorities were consulted a second time in the Easter Term 2010. The conclusions and recommendations contained in this Report are the result of this process.

3. The Ordinary B.A. Degree is currently used as a rescue operation for candidates who fail to attain Honours; there are no specific Ordinary Examinations. If a student fails to attain Honours he or she may be granted an allowance, equivalent to one or two Ordinary Examinations, towards the Ordinary B.A. Degree by either the Applications Committee of the Council or by the Tripos Examiners. Where the Examiners grant such an allowance it is recorded on the class-list.

4. Current regulations stipulate that to obtain the Ordinary Degree it is necessary to have kept nine terms and to accumulate three Ordinary Examinations or the equivalent. The regulations governing how many Ordinaries a particular examination may be worth are complex, and depend on the particular circumstances of the candidate. The classing schemes for few Triposes explicitly state the criteria for award of an Ordinary by the Examiners.

5. There is little consistency in the use of the Ordinary: in the five-year period 2006–2010, Ordinaries were awarded in only 12 of the 27 Triposes, with numbers clustered in a few Triposes. Numbers of Ordinaries awarded have halved in the last 30 years from 50 in 1977 to around 25 a year in recent years, although numbers of students graduating with an Ordinary B.A. Degree have remained static at 10 to 15 a year. Colleges are not consistent in their treatment of students who have been awarded an Ordinary.

6. A Part II will, for candidates who matriculated after 1 January 2010, be required for the B.A. Honours Degree.1 Appropriate recognition will be needed for a student who proceeds satisfactorily as far as Part I, but does not reach the required Honours standard in Part II either as a consequence of poor examination performance; of changing Tripos and being unable or unwilling to spend a fourth year on Part II where this is necessary; or of being an Affiliated Student (including medical and veterinary students) who wishes to spend her or his two years in Cambridge on a two-year Part I.


7. The Council and General Board, following consultation with Faculty Boards and other equivalent bodies, and with the support of the Senior Tutors’ Committee and the Applications Committee of the Council, have concluded that the Ordinary Examination and Ordinary B.A. Degree are no longer appropriate in their current form, and recommend:

I. That, with effect from 1 October 2011,

(i)allowances towards the Ordinary B.A. Degree are no longer awarded by the Applications Committee or by Examiners; and

(ii)students who:

(a)obtain Honours in a combination of any two examinations for Part I, Part Ia, or Part Ib, which must be in different Triposes, and

(b)have obtained honours in the second one of these examinations in their final year of study; and

(c)have completed nine terms in residence should be entitled to the Ordinary B.A. Degree. For this purpose, Affiliated Students should be deemed to have the equivalent of a Part I as well as three terms residence before they arrived;


(iii)candidates who achieve Honours in Part I but fail at Part II, and who have completed nine terms of residence, should be entitled to apply to the Applications Committee to be declared to have deserved the Ordinary or Honours Degree, depending on supporting medical or other evidence.

II. That the regulations for the Ordinary B.A. Degree; Allowances to candidates for Examinations; and for Affiliated Students be amended as set out in Annex 1 to this Report with effect from 1 October 2011.

8. The Council has agreed, with the concurrence of the General Board, that any student who matriculated before 1 October 2011, and who may have been adversely affected by these changes to the regulations for the Ordinary Degree through, for example, degrading, may apply to the Applications Committee to be considered for the award of the degree under the regulations current before 1 October 2011.

15 November 2010

L. K. Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor

S. J. Cowley

Vanessa Lawrence

Ross Anderson

M. J. Daunton

Debbie Lowther

N. Bampos

A. M. Donald

Mavis McDonald

R. J. Barnes

R. J. Dowling

Rachael Padman

Nigel Brown

David Good

David Simon

William Brown

Christopher Hum

Joan M. Whitehead

M. R. Clark

F. P. Kelly

1 November 2010

L. K. Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor

Simon Franklin

Rachael Padman

N. Bampos

Andrew Gamble

J. Rallison

William Brown

C. A. Gilligan

Jeremy Sanders

H. A. Chase

David Good

Patrick Sissons

Philip Ford

Maria Helmling

Joshua Ward



(Statutes and Ordinances, p. 431)

By replacing the regulations for the Ordinary B.A. Degree with the following new regulations:

Ordinary B.A. Degree

1. No student shall be a candidate for the Ordinary B.A. Degree without having first been a candidate for an Honours Examination.

2. On completing the requisite number of terms, a student shall be entitled to supplicate for the Ordinary B.A. Degree if he or she has obtained two honours examinations in Part I, Part Ia or Part Ib of any Tripos, provided that:

(i)the two honours examinations shall not be in the same Tripos; and

(ii)the second of these honours examinations shall be attained not earlier than the last but one of the terms that the student needed for the degree.


(Statutes and Ordinances, p. 230)

Regulation 2.

By amending the final sentence of Regulation 2 so as to read:

The name of a candidate admitted under this regulation to an Honours Examination shall, if he or she satisfies the Examiners, be published in a separate list under the heading:

The following, who are not candidates for honours, have satisfied the Examiners.

Regulation 3(a)(ii).

By removing from lines 3–4 the words ‘allow the candidate one or, where that is consistent with the regulations for the Ordinary B.A. Degree, two Ordinary Examinations;’ and adding a new clause (iii) so as to read:

or (iii) if the candidate is a candidate for Part II, Part IIa or Part IIb of a Tripos, to declare the candidate to have deserved the Ordinary B.A. Degree.

Regulations 5–8.

By deleting Regulation 5 and renumbering Regulations 6, 7, and 8 accordingly.


(Statutes and Ordinances, p. 174)

Regulation 4.

By removing in line 3 the words ‘the Ordinary B.A. Degree or’.

Regulation 5.

By deleting Regulation 5 and replacing it with the following:

5. In the application of the regulations for Ordinary B.A. Degree an Affiliated Student shall be deemed to have the equivalent of one Part I Honours Examination.


Subject to the approval of the recommendations in this Report, the General Board, on the recommendation of the Faculty Board of Law, has approved an amendment to the regulations for the Law Tripos to remove the reference to allowances towards the Ordinary B.A. Degree from the regulations for the Tripos as set out below.


(Statutes and Ordinances, p. 344)

By deleting Regulations 16 and 17, and renumbering the following regulations accordingly.