Tripos (Honours) Examinations
A student who matriculated after 1 January 2010, and who has kept the requisite number of terms¹, will qualify for the B.A. Degree with Honours by obtaining honours in their final year in Part II or Part III of any Tripos; or in Part IIA or Part IIB of any Tripos; or in the Management Studies Tripos.
Students who matriculated before 1 January 2010 will qualify for the B.A. Degree by obtaining honours in three Tripos examinations, and frequently two will suffice. For the latter purpose, however, it is not possible to count:
- Any two Parts IA
- Part IA and Part IB of the same Tripos or of different Triposes
- Two of the following examinations: Part I of the Archaeological and Anthropological Tripos, Part I of the Economics Tripos, Part I of the History of Art Tripos, Part I of the Politics, Psychology, and Sociology Tripos, Part I of the Theological and Religious Studies Tripos.
- One of the examinations specified in (3) together with either Part IA or Part IB of another Tripos.
- Part I of the Chemical Engineering Tripos together with either Part 1A or Part IB of another Tripos.
Students completing after four years the relevant Part IIB examinations in Chemical Engineering, Engineering, or Manufacturing Engineering may qualify for the M.Eng. Degree in addition to the B.A. Degree.
Students completing after four years the Part III examination of the Natural Sciences Tripos may qualify for the M.Sci. Degree in addition to the B.A. Degree.
¹ For most students this is nine terms, but affiliated students are only required to keep six terms
Disregard terms for the purpose of standing
The regulations for Tripos Examinations do not allow students to be candidates later than a prescribed number of terms after matriculating or passing an earlier examination. If, however, you have been incapable owing to illness (duly attested by a medical certificate) or other grave cause,
- of taking an examination at the proper time,
- of pursuing studies for a substantial period,
the University Council may give you leave to 'disregard terms for the purpose of standing', i.e. they may allow you to be a candidate for an examination which, under the regulations, you are not of standing to take. Applications must be submitted through your Tutor to the Applications Committee of the Council.
Nearly all Tripos Examinations are held at the end of the Easter Term, and most students are required to take two, and some three or even more, such examinations during their years of residence. In any year in which you are not taking a Tripos Examination you will probably be required by your College to take the Preliminary Examination to the Tripos Examination for which you intend to be a candidate in the following year. Preliminary Examinations do not confer any qualification for an honours degree, nor does failure in a Preliminary Examination debar you from being a candidate for any subsequent Tripos Examination. Each examination is governed by special regulations, which can be obtained from Tutors or Directors of Studies, who will advise you on your course of study. The full regulations can be found in the University Statutes and Ordinances, and detailed information is available from your Faculty or Department webiste and in course handbooks.
Graduates of other universities and certain other persons may, on certain conditions, be granted the privileges of affiliation. Affiliated students count their first term kept by residence as their fourth, and their standing for the purpose of candidature for examinations is increased accordingly. They can in most cases be candidates for Part II of a Tripos without having previously passed an Honours Examination. They may qualify for the B.A. Degree after six terms' residence and obtaining honours in Part II Tripos Examination only. Tutors are responsible for submitting on the student's behalf applications for affiliated status. Such applications must be made within a Students' first term of residence and be accompanied by evidence of their qualification.
Conduct of Examinations
Between 1 October and 8 November each year undergraduates enrol online for the majority of examinations using the CamSIS Student Self Service facility. In some instances students may need to enrol for modules in their Faculty or Department. From November and the time of the examination, first and final lists of candidates are published. You will be supplied in the middle of the Lent Term with an entry verification form showing your entry which you must sign as correct or amend. When the final list of candidates is published, you will receive an entry confirmation form showing your entry, the time and place of each paper, and any identification number allocated to you. If your name is omitted, or printed inaccurately, or the details of the papers for which you are marked as being a candidate are incorrect on a list of candidates, especially the final list, or on a form, you should at once inform your Tutor, but you are not permitted to change the choice of papers signed as correct at the end of the Lent Term.
If you are unable to take an examination for which you have been entered you should at once inform your Tutor.
You should take with you to the examinations room writing implements, but not geometrical instruments unless these are likely to be required. Tables and any other printed information necessary will normally be provided, but candidates for some examinations may be given notice that they are expected to bring their own copies of certain publications. In some examinations candidates are permitted to bring electronic calculators, either of a type specified by Notice or, in most cases, marked and sold by the University for the purpose.
An Examiner will be present for the first twenty minutes of each session. You may ask the Examiner if you have reason to suppose that there is a misprint or other error in the paper, or to enquire whether you may take some particular point for granted in answering a question.
The following rules governing University Examinations have been prescribed by the Board of Examinations: Rules for the guidance of candidates and for the prevention of misconduct in examinations
If you have an illness or disability you may require some form of adjustment to your examinations. Any adjustment will depend on the nature and severity of your illness or disability. For example, you may be granted additional time if you have a disability or medical condition that could prevent you from completing your examination within the specified time. Similarly, if you have a visual impairment your question papers can be produced in an alternative format such as Braille or copied in large type.
Colleges are responsible for submitting applications for examinations arrangements on behalf of their students. You should be aware that the deadline for submitting applications for examination arrangements is 31 January for the Main examination period. You should therefore discuss your requirements with your tutor as early as possible.
Candidates affected by illness or other serious hindrance
It is very important that any examination candidate who
- finds that his or her preparation for the examination is seriously hindered
- withdraws from the examination or is absent from part of the examination
- completes it under a disability
informs his or her Tutor of the fact and of the full circumstances whatever the cause, at the earliest possible moment.
If a candidate for any University examination, except one for which the candidates are required to be Graduate Students or one leading to the M.B., B.Chir. Degree or the Vet. M. B. Degree, is absent from the whole or part of an examination because of illness or other grave cause, and either fails or underperforms as a consequence, the University Council may, after receiving proof of that cause and evidence of his or her attainments (e.g. supervisors' reports):
- allow the candidate the examination;
- allow the candidate one, or where that is consistent with the regulations for the Ordinary B.A. Degree, two Ordinary Examinations;
- declare the candidate to have attained the honours standard (this allowance is given only when the candidate would, if successful in the examination, have been declared by the Examiners to have attained the honours standard).
If you have passed the examination but have been awarded a class that is demonstrably lower than justified by your academic record, including supervisor's reports, the Council may withdraw your name from the class list and declare you to have deserved honours.
If a candidate has missed or under-performed in a relatively small part of an examination on account of illness or other grave cause, the Council may authorise the Examiners to classify them on the basis of their performance in only those parts of the examination which they took without handicap. In this way the original outcome of your examination may be improved. The Examiners may only do so if they judge you to have performed at the standard of a higher class in the majority of the examination.
Where a candidate becomes ill or has severe extenuating circumstances preventing them from completing the year and taking their examinations the Council may grant leave to disregard terms for the purpose of standing to enable them to go out of residence and take the examination the following year. The University's policy is not to repeat years and where a student has completed two thirds of the academic year the Council would not normally grant leave to disregard terms for the purpose of standing. The Council delegates decisions on these matters to its Standing Committee on Applications.
Withholding names from Class Lists
There is provision for students to have their name withheld from the Class List. Only their Tutor may submit an application on their behalf to the University's Applications Committee. Applications will only be considered where there is demonstrable evidence of medical or other exceptional extenuating circumstances showing that publication would be likely to seriously endanger their health or well-being. Applications should be submitted as soon as possible and at least 10 days before the publication of the Class List. Therefore students should contact their Tutors as soon as possible should they wish to have their name withheld.
The Tutor will inform students if their application is successful, although the omission of their name could result in them receiving their result slightly later than other students. If their name is withheld from the Class List and they have been awarded a prize in connection with the examination their name will not be published as prizewinner.
Examination Review Procedure
The University has a formal procedure for reviews relating to undergraduate examinations and certain other qualifications where students are not registered as Graduate students (including the LLM, MCL, MAst, MBA, M.Fin., M.Eng./M.Math./M.Sci., M.Mus. and M.Ed Degrees, and Diplomas and Certificates). There are separate procedures for Graduate students for which further information is available on the Complaints and Appeals website.
The procedure for undergraduates incorporates three stages:
- Representations prior to the publication of the Class List
- Representations following publication of the Class List
- Further review by a specially-appointed Examinations Review Committee
The procedure is intended to address technical problems that may arise in the conduct of an examination, (such as an inaccuracy in the question paper or disturbance in an examination room). In such instances, a student is advised to report the matter to their Tutor. Representations concerning the conduct of the examination may be submitted by the candidate, or by a Tutor on the candidate's behalf. Such representations must be submitted within three days following the final examination paper. The Examiners will be asked to take the matter into account prior to completing the Class List. The student and Tutor will be informed of the action taken by the Examiners in response to those representations. Full details are available on the Complaints and Appeals website.
The procedure is used for those instances where following publication of the examination results a student or their Tutor considers irregularity or mistake may have arisen in the examination process or has a complaint about the conduct of the examination. Representations may be submitted by the candidate, or by a Tutor on the candidate's behalf, within one month of the Class List being issued. The matter will be referred to the Chair of Examiners. Following consideration of the case the student and Tutor will be informed of the outcome. Full details are available on the Complaints and Appeals website.
If a student remains dissatisfied with the response to their representations above the student may apply to the Registrary (via the Deputy Academic Secretary, as deputy), for the matter to be considered by an Examination Review Committee. Applications must be submitted in writing to The Deputy Academic Secretary, c/o Karen Morris, Administrative Officer (Exams and Assessment), Student Registry, 4 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RZ, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The grounds which might constitute a complaint under the terms of the procedure are narrowly defined and specified:
- that there existed material circumstances relating to the conduct of the examination which the Examiners were unaware;
- that procedural irregularities occurred in the conduct of the examination, which were of such a nature as to cause reasonable doubt as to whether the Examiners would have reached the same conclusions had the irregularities not occurred;
- that there is demonstrable evidence of prejudice, bias or inadequate assessment in the examination process.
Applications may be submitted either by the student themselves or their Tutor within three months from the date on which the report from the Chair of Examiners is communicated. The Committee will require a full written statement describing the basis of the appeal. There is a pro forma for the purpose of requesting a further review, which will be made available to the candidate on request.
Following full consideration of the case the Committee may make one of the following decisions:
- dismiss the complaint;
- require the Chair of Examiners to re-convene the original Examiners to reconsider their earlier decision, with no fewer than three Examiners (inclusive of the Chair) to constitute a quorum;
- require the General Board to appoint one or more additional Examiners to make an independent report or reports on the work presented, and require the Chair of Examiners to convene a meeting of the original Examiners to reconsider their earlier decision, with no fewer than three of the original Examiners (inclusive of the Chair), together with the additional Examiner(s), to constitute a quorum;
- require the candidate, or the candidate's work, to be re-examined under whatever arrangements may be specified by the Review Committee, after consultation with the Chair of Examiners.
Both the student and their Tutor will receive details of the outcome of the decision of the Examination Review Committee.
The regulations for the above procedures are on p 245-248 of Statutes and Ordinances (2015), and online at Chapter 3, section 8.