Structure of our courses

The Advantage: flexibility and choice

When you start your course, you may not have a clear idea of the options you want to take. Our courses allow for this as you can delay specialising until you've had the chance to fully explore the breadth of your subject and confirmed which areas you're most interested in. However, when you graduate, you'll have achieved the same standard and depth in your final year as graduates from more specialised courses elsewhere.

Generally speaking, the number and scope of options you can choose from increases each year. This means that, beyond any compulsory papers, you can usually tailor your course to your own specifications.

Your choices may not even be limited to those within your immediate subject field. Some options are available in several degree courses, where the subjects overlaps (for example in History, Classics, and Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic) - see the individual course outlines for details.

Course structure

Our courses (also called Triposes at) are divided into 'Parts', with each Part lasting one or two years.

  • Three-year courses have two Parts, and you must pass exams in both Parts to graduate with an Honours degree.
  • Engineering and some science subjects also have a fourth year (Part III) that leads to an MEng or MSci degree.

Our courses offer a tough challenge, but one our students relish. We demand a lot, but we give a lot too:

  • expert teachers and lecturers
  • excellent library and computing facilities
  • superb labs
  • lots of support


Our courses offer a good compromise between the continuous assessment favoured by some universities and the emphasis placed on final exams by others.

Each Part of the course is self-contained. There are examinations at the end of each Part and there's no averaging out for your final degree result.

In order to achieve an Honours degree you must pass examinations at both Part I and Part II.

  • Written exams are the main form of assessment used - typically, you sit between four and eight written exams for each Part.
  • In many science subjects, a specified amount of practical work is assessed.
  • Most courses include a research project or dissertation - these may be in addition to or as a substitute for a written exam.
Note: Details of assessment methods can be found in the information about each course.