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The Part II Subject Allocation Procedure

The following procedure operates for all students who wish to read any subject in Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos. The procedure also applies to students who have read the NST or Medical/Veterinary Triposes and wish to transfer to Part II Biological Anthropology.

Pre-Allocation Preparation (January-March)

  1. Each Department will be asked in January to provide the following information to the NST Coordinator:

    • 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 an email outlining 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.


Round 1 (April - July)

  1. Students shall return (via an online form) by the specified date, the following information:

    • up to FOUR preferences, including the Department they wish to be allocated to for Part II study and where applicable whether they would prefer to undertake a research project or a dissertation;
    • it is strongly recommended that students applying for biology courses (or HPS) select at least THREE choices; students choosing physical science courses may select only ONE, though Material Sciences suggest TWO;
    • for the Physical Sciences option, students shall indicate in which Department they wish to take their half-subject;
    • students can also opt to transfer out to a different Tripos and can list reserve options for consideration in Round 2;
    • students who are currently intermitting and plan to return to Part II should indicate this on the online form so that previous allocations can be checked.
  2. Directors of Studies will continue to play a crucial role in advising which options to choose and should be familiar with the popularity of courses and the relevant selection criteria. If a student changes their mind after their initial entry, they may re-enter their preferences through the online form, provided they do so before the specified date.
  3. For Round 1 decisions each Department will be sent a list of students who have listed their Department as their first choice, along with a breakdown of examination performance in the form of a combined NST and MedST/VetST Part IB provisional markbook for all students, which should state the marks obtained in each examination subject.
  4. From this information, biological departments can select students, filling up to 90% of the advertised places including students with mitigating circumstances (i.e. 90% of projects, 90% of BBS), this will ensure there are places available for Round 2.
  5. 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.
  6. Biological departments and HPS will indicate at this stage which students have been selected for a research project (normally taking the Part II Single Subject course) and which have been selected for a dissertation (normally taking the Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences [BBS] course).
  7. Students receive individual emails which will confirm whether they have been given their first choice course or whether they will be entered into Round 2. 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.  Directors of Studies and Tutorial Offices are also informed of the results of the first round of allocations by email at the same time as the students.

Round 2 (July)

  1. Students who have NOT been allocated their first choice department have a further period in which to amend their choices, if they wish. Colleges are expected to advise students further, in consultation with Departments. Students register any changes in preference via the online form before the Round 2 deadline. It is highly recommended that students choosing biological subjects not allocated in Round 1 include at least one BBS preference.
  2. Student who HAVE been allocated in Round 1 but wish to change their option may at this stage submit their new preferences through the online form. These students will be entered into Round 2 and will be competing against the unplaced students for the remaining places.
  3. Students who have not received confirmation of their transfer to another Tripos are invited to submit their preferences via the online form to be considered in Round 2 of the allocations.
  4. An interdepartmental meeting will be held shortly after the Round 2 deadline 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.
  5. Each Department shall be represented at the interdepartmental meeting by the Part II Course Organiser or a named representative with delegated authority to make decisions. This person should be made known well in advance of the meeting to the NST Coordinator.
  6. 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 Chair of the Natural Sciences Tripos Management Committee, or a deputy, who shall be active in attempting to ensure that each student is allocated to an appropriate subject.
  7. 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 informed of their allocation by email.

Post Round 2 (Summer Vacation)

  1. The selection of Minor Subjects by those students allocated to Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences shall take place during the summer vacation through the office of the Faculty of Biology.
  2. If a student remains unallocated after Round 2 Directors of Studies should contact those departments with places still available to make arrangements for their student. A few departments run waiting lists if they are full, please refer to the Selection Criteria page for details.
  3. If any student changes their Part II course over the summar, the NST Coordinator should be notified to ensure accurate student records are kept and so the relevant departments can be kept informed.
  4. Colleges are required to update their students' sub-plans on CamSIS. They will be provided with the relevant codes via the final allocation spreadsheet. Please note that individual departments may not be able to view your students CamSIS details until the sub-plan is updated.