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Education Quality and Policy Office


General Board policy

The general proliferation of Tripos papers is not encouraged and a proposal for a new, additional paper is normally expected to be accompanied by the compensating withdrawal of another paper, so that the total number of papers within a particular Tripos remains reasonably stable (NB. this includes papers borrowed from other Triposes).

This policy is based on the following principles:

  • Triposes should continue to reflect new developments in the subject(s) concerned;
  • Tripos curricula should be consistent with the importance accorded, across the University, to staff research interests informing teaching;
  • the structure and content of each Tripos should reflect a balance between
    1. compulsory study of core areas of a subject and acquiring a broad general knowledge of that subject
    2. optional study of specialised topics and some flexibility in student choice of the options available;
  • the development of new topics of sufficient importance to feature in a Tripos can generally be matched by a decreasing emphasis in other topics.

The Board's policy is not inflexible and academically persuasive cases for new additional papers will be considered. The following factors will be taken into account as appropriate:

  • any reductions in the number of Tripos papers which the institution may have previously made or which it may have undertaken to make in the foreseeable future;
  • the need, in any transitional arrangements based on future removal of papers, not to disadvantage current students;
  • relevant recommendations arising out of a General Board Review of the institution;
  • new requirements set by Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies;
  • significant subject developments which must necessarily be reflected in the Tripos curriculum.

Factors to consider when developing proposals for a new paper

In addition to the educational considerations institutions are encouraged to take the following factors into account:

  • the impact on the overall teaching resources available within the institution and on the institution's activities generally.
  • It is expected that the institution will have discussed the matter with relevant staff in the School.
  • the extent to which (particularly at Part II) there is adequate teaching and examining resource from the outset and allowing for contingency arrangements in the event of sabbaticals or resignations.
  • the availability of sufficient qualified supervisors across the Colleges.
  • the adequacy of library, IT, laboratory and other infrastructural support.
  • the ability of the institution's, the University's and the Colleges' administrative infrastructure, particularly the Board of Examinations and College Offices, to absorb the demands arising from a new paper, for example the timetabling of examinations, and to administer increasingly complex combinations of papers.

For further guidance, or more significant changes, see the section on developing proposals for new or substantially revised courses.

Adding flexibility by using variable subjects

Using variable subjects can help maintain the balance between continued vitality in more specialised topics (particularly at Part II) and reasonable control over the number of papers available.

The precise titles of variable subjects can be changed relatively straightforwardly by Faculty Board Notice, without increasing the overall number of papers, to take account of staff research interests, the teaching resource available, new areas in the discipline and student demand.