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Allocation Procedure

Part II subject allocation procedures

The Allocation Procedure

The following procedure operates for all students who wish to read Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos. The procedure also applies to students who have read the NST or MVST and wish to study Part II History and Philosophy of Science, or transfer from the NST or MVST to Part II Biological Anthropology.

  1. Each Department should return the following information to the Secretary of the Committee of Management for the Natural Sciences Tripos by the end of January:

    • the total maximum number of students they can reasonably teach (i.e. lecturing and supervision capacity, including the supervision of both research projects and dissertations);
    • the likely number of research projects that will be on offer;
    • the likely number of BBS places on offer;
    • the selection criteria that they will use in the event of their Department being oversubscribed.
  2. This information will be communicated to students (on the Natural Sciences Tripos website and through Directors of Studies) and to College Tutorial offices.

  3. College Senior Tutors will receive a letter in late February outlining all subjects available to students together with selection criteria and details of the allocations procedure, statistical data on allocations in recent years and advice to Directors of Studies. This information will also be on the Natural Sciences Tripos website.

  4. Students shall return (on-line self-service through CamSIS) by the specified date, the following information:

    • up to three Departments (in order of preference) that they would wish to be allocated to for Part II study;
    • where applicable, students shall indicate whether they would prefer to undertake a research project or a dissertation;
    • for some interDepartmental courses, students will be able to indicate a preferred choice of Department.

    Directors of Studies will continue to play a crucial role in advising students which options to choose and should be familiar with the popularity of courses and the relevant selection criteria. If students changes their mind after saving their entry, a College Tutor or Director of Studies will need to email natsci@admin.cam.ac.uk with details of the changes.

  5. Each Department will be sent in the Easter Term a list of students who have listed their Department as one in which they are interested (irrespective of placement in their list of preferences); in due course, Departments will also receive a summary of the data highlighting which Departments are "oversubscribed" and a breakdown on examination performance in the form of a combined NST and MVST Part IB provisional markbook for all students, which should state the marks obtained in each examination "unit".

  6. From this information, biological departments can select students, filling up to 90% of the advertised places available on each course (i.e. 90% of projects, 90% of BBS). Departments may choose to take fewer students at this stage, to allow themselves more choice to fill their remaining places at the subsequent interdepartmental meeting, but it will be expected that undersubscribed Departments will take all students who have indicated them as their first choice. 
    Physical science departments will only normally need to confirm that students are eligible for single subjects or for the Physical Sciences options at this point unless the number of places available has been exceeded. As a result of those decisions a small number of physical science students may be entered into Round 2.

  7. Departments may also decide individually whether to indicate at this stage which students have been selected for a research project (normally taking the Departmental Part II Single Subject [SS] course) and which have been selected for a dissertation (normally taking the Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences [BBS] course). 
    Where students have opted for 'project preferred' the Department may allocate these students to a BBS place at this stage. Students who have selected 'project only' should not be offered BBS at this point.

  8. This information is provided to Colleges at the same time as the publication of the Part IB class lists. Students will also learn whether they have definitely got their first choice Department via CamSIS. Please note that non-confirmation at this stage does not mean that students have definitely NOT got their first choice, but that they were not selected in the first round and will be competing against all unplaced students for the remaining places.

  9. Students who have not been allocated their first choice department have a further period in which to amend their choices. Colleges are expected to advise students further, in consultation with Departments. Students register any changes in preference, or confirm their original choices, on-line through CamSIS, before the final round of allocations is made.

  10. An interdepartmental meeting will be held shortly afterwards to allocate, as far as is possible, the remaining students to Departments. At this meeting, every biological department will still have at least 10% of the total number of places remaining (10% of project places and 10% of BBS places) so that no student will be completely excluded from consideration for each Department they have indicated.

  11. Each Department shall be represented at the interdepartmental meeting by the Head of Department or a named representative with delegated authority to make decisions. This person should be made known well in advance of the meeting to the Committee of Management and College personnel.

  12. Departments shall be able to fill their remaining places by indicating interest for particular students and through negotiation. The meeting shall be chaired by the Chairman of the Committee of Management for the Natural Sciences Tripos, or a deputy, who shall be active in attempting to ensure that each student is allocated to an appropriate subject.

  13. All Colleges will receive a final complete list of their students with confirmed allocations, with a list of Departments that still have places available. Again, students will be able to find out their allocation directly through CamSIS.

  14. The selection of Minor Subjects by those students allocated to Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences shall take place at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term through the office of the Faculty of Biology; in most cases, there are no restrictions on the number of students who can take a Minor Subject.