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Questions and answers for Directors of Studies and College contacts:


What is the practical allocation system and why does the NST have it?

The number of students reading Natural Sciences subjects has led to tight restrictions on when students can take their required practical sessions. There is very little spare accommodation in laboratories, and we therefore operate a system where we inform students of their practical days, expecting them to organise their supervision timetables afterwards.

Online registration frees time up for students, who will be emailed with an individualised timetable of lectures and practical classes based on information on their subject choices provided by College staff. Colleges are also able to view the timetables of their students.

The allocation system attempts to consider varying needs (where possible), including lab capacities and equal distribution of students across practical sessions for departments and allocating students to practicals in alternate weeks where fortnightly sessions are required. This year we will continue with the preliminary provisional deadline for colleges to enter their students’ provisional choices. The reason for this change is that there has been increased pressure on the allocation system and the Management Committee has decided that the best way to mitigate the risk of allocations not being available for students at the start of the term is to set this deadline. It is hoped that this process will allow the system to determine areas that are highly subscribed and allow administrators to put contingency plans in place before the allocation is run.



Who enters information on my students into the practical allocation system?

The allocation system is accessible only through RAVEN authentication. Colleges will be asked, via their Senior Tutor, to identify the staff who will input the data: these authorised persons will have been notified separately and be referred to as 'College contacts'.

If you would like to know who is responsible for entering data for your College, please contact the NST Coordinator.

These authorised users will also have access to the timetables of all students in the corresponding College once the allocation has taken place.


How do I log on to enter students' details / what do I do if I have problems logging on?

You can acces the data input webpage HERE.

You will need you Raven Password to log on.  More information is availble from these UIS pages:
For new staff
Forgotten password

If you still have problems logging on, please contact the NST Coordinator.

How do you enter student choices and how long should it take?

Screenshots and guidance of input of student choices are provided here.

Providing you have all the relevant information noted below, data entry via the web pages will take less than thirty seconds per student. The web pages will also display all of the students already entered for your College so you can see at a glance who has already been entered.


What information is needed about each student?

The allocation system needs to record, for each student:

  • their CRSID and name;
  • their Tripos;
  • their subject choices within the Natural Sciences Tripos (including their Maths subject)

There is also a field to add a comment of free text to alert the administrator to any individual needs or problems. Please note that this field should NOT be used for individual timetable requests (see below).

For the initial provisional entry it may be that you will have contacted students to ask them for provisional choices, or you may choose to enter your best estimate of their course options.

For the final entry it is well-recognised that not all students are certain of their future pathway through the NST by this very early point in their career. It is important, however, that a complete set of subject choices (however provisional) is entered for each student to allow the Departments to manage the numbers of students they will have to provide laboratory space for, and to allocate students as efficiently as possible.

If, as Director of Studies, you are yourself responsible for entering this information, please consult with your Tutorial Office to make sure you know of any individual circumstances (e.g. disability, religious requirements) that may require a student to attend practical classes on a particular day, (see below for additional information).


How to I change a students' provisional choice and what if I make a mistake with data entry?

At any time, you can 'recall' a student's information simply by typing in their CRSID. You can overwrite any information you have already entered (and the system will warn you that this is what you are doing).

If you have entered information for a student who should not be included (i.e. you want to delete the student), you will need to contact NST Coordinator.


What if I don't know the students' CRSid?

The preferred way to select a student for data input is by typing in their CRSID. Their details (including full name and College) should appear for you to be sure you have selected the right one. You should also be able to search for a CRSID if you have the name of the student, using the Lookup Service linked to on the same page.

As a last resort, it is possible to type instead only a name and College, but this will not allow the system to pass on to the student their individualised timetable and you will need to arrange to print out their timetable on their behalf and provide it. You are therefore strongly advised against using this facility – check if you have made a typo in entering their CRSID, and/or check with UIS why the student does not appear in the Lookup Service.


Why is there a provisional choice deadline in mid September?

The pressure on the allocation system has been increasing over the past years; the number of places available in Laboratories are close to capacity in some instances, and due to the restricted timetable for allocations there is a danger that a satisfactory allocation solution will not be available for the start of teaching. The NST Management Committee have therefore decided to continue the preliminary deadline so that the allocation system can determine areas of potential over subscription, resolve individual timetable needs, identify problematic subject choice combinations and a solution can be determined for these issues.


Why is the final deadline for student registration 10.30 a.m. on the Tuesday?

The deadline has been chosen to meet numerous conflicting needs of the Departments and the Colleges. Obviously, Colleges need time to discuss with their students their final choice of subjects they wish to study but equally Departments need time to prepare for practical classes which may start on the Thursday. The allocation process takes time to run and those running the process need to have time to consult with Departments where there is pressure on capacity.

The live system allows you to correct inputted information, so it is possible to enter provisional information in advance providing this is corrected by the deadline.


What if I miss the deadline?

The allocation process will run as soon as the deadline has passed.

The allocator only works effectively if all of the student details have been entered, which is why it is so important for all the information to be entered by the deadline. If student details are not included by the time the allocation process is run, they will not be allocated practical classes for any of their subjects. Students and Directors of Studies will then be responsible for arranging registration with the individual Departments and/or course organisers. If you discover that information has been omitted please contact NST Coordinator as soon as possible.

The allocation system does not get updated, and no data *beyond summary statistics) will be retained as a permanent record.


What if a student is undecided about their choices?

For the first provisional deadline we ask that you enter your best guess at the student's choices but we are aware that this might change following discussions with Directors of Studies and fellow students.

It is important that (at least) a provisional set of subject choices for each student is entered by the College by 10.30 a.m. on the Tuesday. A number of students do change their minds in the first weeks of the Michaelmas Term and they will continue to have to negotiate these changes via their Directors of Studies (see below for additional information).

The practical allocation system is a one-off event on the Tuesday before lectures and any changes to subject choices do not need to be registered by the system, but the NST Coordinator should be informed so departments are kept updated.

If a student changes their mind before the Tuesday deadline, you can simply overwrite the existing subject choices by entering their CRSID again. The system will warn you if you are overwriting existing information.


What if a student wants to "try" an additional subject in the short term, or has an irregular choice of subjects?

The allocation system will not allow students to register for more than the formal number of subjects to be studied. The number of places on practical classes has become too tight to allow students to undertake this freely. If students wish to try an additional subject, they may be able to do so by contacting the individual Department or Course Organiser after the allocation has been completed, but only if there are places available.

The system will only allow you to enter permitted combinations of subjects for that Tripos. If an irregular combination (or number) of subjects needs to be entered, you will need to contact the NST Coordinator.


What if a student has particular needs and wants to register on a particular day?

Special requests for practical classes on particular days (or avoiding particular days) will only be allowed in extenuating circumstances and for good educational or pastoral reasons. Examples of this would include students with limited mobility or other related issues, students with particular religious requirements, etc.

These students will have their practical classes 'hardwired' before the allocation process starts.

If you have a case that requires pre-registration, please contact the NST Coordinator as soon as you can preferably by the provisional choice deadline (late September), it is vital that we have this information at least 24 hours ahead of the deadline with precise details of the required timetable.

You may find it helpful to refer to the online timetable at


What if a student wants to change a subject or a practical slot once the allocations have been made?

Students are asked to consult with their Directors of Studies before any changes are negotiated. They should then contact the relevant Course Organisers as listed on the NST website here.
It is important that the NST Coordinator is kept informed of subjects changes so departments can be informed. Practical Coordinators try to be as accommodating as possible but it is possible that some practical slots will have reached capacity.

You may find it helpful to look at the online timetable at:


When and how will students hear about their individual timetable?

All NST students will be informed by email of their individualised timetable by 9am on the Wednesday before lectures start at the latest. This should allow them time to arrange supervisions and collect any material required prior to lectures starting.

Other Triposes

Students on all other Triposes taking NST IA papers are allocated manually, and their details should not be registred via the online system


What other information will students be told about?

Students will receive an email on the Tuesday afternoon about induction sessions and practicalities such information on purchasing lab coats, calculators etc. The timetable email will include subject specific information where relevant.


What if students can't access their email accounts?

Authorised College personnel will be able to access timetable information for each of their College's students, and may choose instead to alert them to their timetable if they are unable to access their email by the Wednesday morning.