Part III is a 9 month taught masters course, leading to an MMath degree for those students who are undergraduates at Cambridge, and to an MASt (Master of Advanced Study) for students who join from other universities. As a taught masters course, the main emphasis is on lecture courses, and assessment is almost entirely based on exams, which are taken at the end of the academic year starting in the last week of May. The standard graduation dates for successful candidates are in June and July.
The academic year is split into three terms, with 8 weeks of lectures each in Michaelmas Term (October to early December) and Lent Term (mid January to mid March), and 4 weeks of (often non-examinable) lectures in Easter Term (starting mid April). Lectures take place mainly in the morning from Monday to Saturday. Examinations usually begin in late May, and are scheduled over a period of about two weeks.
Students prepare between six and nine lecture courses for examination (typically five to seven). These lecture courses may be freely selected from the wide range offered by both Mathematics Departments. As an alternative to one lecture course, an essay may be submitted. A Part III essay is not usually expected to be original research, (although it can be, particularly in some of the areas of applied mathematics), but a good first step in learning skills needed for a future in research. The deadline for such an essay is early in Easter Term, near the end of April. The examinations are either two or three hours per paper, depending on the subject. Examination results are usually released in mid June, and the pass grades are Pass with Honours, Pass with Merit, and Pass with Distinction. A Merit is the equivalent of a First Class in other Parts of the Mathematical Tripos. Approximately 40% of the cohort achieves a Distinction.
Please note that the Post Master Placements are not a part of the Part III course. This programme is offered as an exciting opportunity after Part III, with the limited places available being distributed after an application process.