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2.6 Four-Year Courses and Changes of Tripos


2.6.1 Those admitted for four-year courses

In Modern Languages, History and Modern Languages and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, students are admitted to four-year degrees that involve the third year being spent abroad. For some students in other courses, such as Law or Engineering, it is possible for students to find year abroad opportunities supported by their department. Such cases will be treated in the same way as the above courses. The same is true of those students admitted to the four-year Classics course.

In Natural Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics, it is possible to take a degree over four years without a change of Tripos. Or you may graduate after three with a B.A. degree. The rules about who may progress to a fourth year are set by the relevant Faculty and vary from subject to subject. In some cases the College reserves the right to require a higher standard than that set by the relevant Faculty.

In Natural Sciences, the standard needed at Part II for progression to Part III varies from subject to subject. Students should first consult the information on the relevant page of the Natural Sciences Tripos web pages if they are considering a fourth year. There is an appeal process that effectively requires the support of the Director of Studies and the College. So, if in doubt, consult your Director of Studies. Note that not all NST options involve the possibility of a fourth year. The College's position is that we would not support progression to Part III in Physical Natural Sciences where a student has fallen below the usual threshold. Additionally, we would encourage anyone whose Part II marks fall in the lower 2i range seriously to consider alternative possibilities to Part III.

In Part 1B and Part II the College also seeks to ensure that only those with suitable qualifications progress down certain pathways, and especially those involving intensive study of Physics and Maths. Please read the detailed document that states clearly the College's position on these matters. Your DoS will be happy to advise you. 

In Engineering, in order to proceed to the MEng, a student must, in accordance with Faculty regulations, obtain at least a 2.2 in either their second or third year. In Selwyn, any student who obtains a Third at the end of their third year will have to obtain the permission of the College Council before being allowed to remain in residence for the MEng rather than take the BA degree. The pass standard in the MEng is roughly the equivalent of a 2.2.

In Mathematics, the standard for proceeding to Part III (MMath) is high, i.e. a First. You should consult your DoS for the most up-to-date information.

2.6.2 Changes of Tripos

Undergraduates are very occasionally admitted to read a combination of Triposes. In such cases the students are guaranteed transfer to their nominated second subject to their achieving honours in their Tripos examinations and to any other College regulations.

Those undergraduates who are admitted for a specified four-year combination as covered in 2.6.1 above are not guaranteed the fourth year of study if they seek to change to a Tripos that does not have a fourth year. The right to the fourth year is not transferable to other combinations.

The rules governing a change of subject after the first or second year that was not anticipated at the time of admission are as follows:

  • A transfer which does not lead to the addition of a fourth year is subject solely to the agreement of the Directors of Studies concerned in consultation with the Senior Tutor, though with advice and input being sought from the undergraduate’s Tutor. The Director of Studies in the subject to which entry is sought will usually impose a qualifying hurdle, most commonly a 2.1 in the examination at the end of the year immediately preceding the proposed transfer. 
  • It is anticipated that once the academic year has begun, changes will only be considered for the following academic year and not for a mid-year change.  It may very occasionally be possible to change before the Division of the Michaelmas Term with the strong support of the Director of Studies in the subject into which a change is sought and with the Senior Tutor's approval. 
  • In all cases, a transfer will only be permitted that conforms with the Tripos requirements laid out in the University's Statutes and Ordinances
  • A transfer which involves an extension to a fourth year requires the approval of the College Council; this will not be withheld in those cases where the transfer is a logical extension of a Part I course (e.g. Natural Sciences into Chemical Engineering). Where no such natural extension exists, the College Council will take into account the views of the Senior Tutor, Tutor and Directors of Studies involved, and will be looking for evidence of good academic achievement, academic aptitude for the new course and high motivation. The council may be expected to impose academic conditions on such transfers as are permitted.
  • A transfer from a course that involves a year abroad will only be considered if the application is lodged before the end of the academic year prior to the year abroad. Students are not eligible to apply to change Tripos during the year abroad, which is deemed to begin from the end of the preceding year of study. For these purposes the end of the Easter Term in June constitutes that point. The College Council has agreed that students reading subjects that involve a year abroad and who wish to change to another subject should be regarded as having begun their Part II, Part IIB or Part III at the start of their year abroad. They would therefore only be eligible to apply (and be approved) for a change of Tripos before starting their year abroad and would thus not be permitted to take the year away from Cambridge.
  • Students may apply to transfer onto the Management Studies programme. This is not available for first years. Please note that entry is competitive and involves both a College process and evaluation by the Judge Institute, possibly leading to a conditional offer of a place. Please consult your Tutor and the Director of Studies in Management about this process. The College will not support transfers to MST of students who have begun, still less completed, their Year Abroad. 

In all cases, the final decision rests with the College Council and it is assumed that there are no other academic or other requirements unmet that would prevent progression.