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Part III (MMath/MASt)

 

Update on progression and transfer to Part III in light of COVID-19

On instruction of the Faculty Board, the advice on progression and transfer to Part III Mathematics has been modified and augmented for this year as detailed below. Please note that this advice is intended to be read in conjunction with the information given in the later sections of this page as it applies in a normal year.

Progression from Part II to Part III of the Mathematical Tripos for the Academic Year 2020/2021 (Added 28 May 2020)

The Faculty Board has decided that in light of the unusual circumstances this year, those Part II students who obtained a first in IB and who pass the Part II pass/fail examination in June (leading to a first being awarded in Part II on the basis of their Part IB result) will automatically be allowed to progress to Part III. All other students wishing to proceed to Part III should ask their College to apply to the Faculty's Permissions Committee on their behalf. The Permissions Committee will make decisions on a case-by-case basis, guided by the following principles this year:

(i) The criterion for permission to progress from Part II to Part III is that a student should be more likely than not to get at least a Merit in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos. The Permissions Committee is mindful of the fact that evidence for whether the required standard has been reached may be much less complete or conclusive than normal, and is therefore likely to interpret this criterion generously this year;
(ii) given the unusual circumstances and examination format, the Permissions Committee will pay particular attention to evidence from Part II supervision reports;
(iii) the Permissions Committee is more likely than in a normal year to take into account applicants' performance in earlier parts of the Tripos.

The Faculty Board has recommended that the rule that "students in the top 40% in Part II of the Mathematical Tripos whose applications are supported by the college should normally be allowed to progress to Part III" be suspended this year.

As usual, the application should consist of a letter from the student, a supporting case by the Director of Studies, and, when medical evidence is present, a letter from the Senior Tutor. Since Part III is expected to be no less demanding than usual next academic year, the academic assessment by the Director of Studies should be reasoned and supported by firm evidence. It should include the detailed Tripos record of the student in Parts IA and IB, supporting evidence from supervision reports from Part IB, a copy of all supervision reports from Part II, and any further comments sought for the purpose of the letter from supervisors in the student's chosen field of study. Details of the applicant's performance in the Part II pass/fail examination, even if available at the time of application, will not be taken into account by the Committee.

Applications should reach the Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics by noon on Monday 29th June 2020.

Further Update on Progression from Part II to Part III of the Mathematical Tripos (Added 22 June 2020)

In light of the University’s announcement at https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/students/assessment/second-assessment-period-and-in-person-exams, the Faculty has issued the following further guidance concerning progression, supplementing and clarifying the information already available on this page.

As stated above, those Part II students who obtained a first in IB and who pass the Part II pass/fail examination in June (leading to a first being awarded in Part II on the basis of their Part IB result) will automatically be allowed to progress to Part III. All other students wishing to proceed to Part III should ask their College to apply to the Faculty's Permissions Committee on their behalf by noon on Monday 29 June 2020, regardless of whether they sat the pass/fail examination in the first assessment period or plan to sit it in the second, and regardless of whether they intend to sit the classed examination. 

The details of the application are as previously announced. A positive decision by the Permissions Committee will put applicants in standing to progress to Part III subject to a pass in the pass/fail examination. As previously stated, details of the applicant's performance in the Part II pass/fail examination, even if available at the time of application, will not be taken into account by the Committee.

The University has announced its intention, subject to PHE guidelines, to run the in-person classed Part II examinations in September. Provided this is possible, which cannot be guaranteed, we anticipate that any student whose application to progress to Part III was declined by the Permissions Committee in July and who sits the classed examination will be able to request a review of their application in light of their classed examination performance prior to the start of the academic year 2020/2021. Those who obtain a first would be given permission to progress automatically; those who do not would be reconsidered by the Permissions Committee on a case-by-case basis. Students given permission in this way would be able to commence Part III in October 2020, albeit at very short notice, provided they have not graduated.

A no-jeopardy policy will apply: once a student has been given permission to progress to Part III, either through a first in Part IB or through a positive decision by the Permissions Committee in July, this permission stands irrespective of the student's performance in the classed examination.

Students and Colleges are reminded that, if a student graduates with a BA after three years of study, they cease to be eligible for the MMath. A student who is unsuccessful in their application for permission to take Part III can graduate at a later congregation or in absentia.

Progression Part III following the Classed Part II Exam (Added 4 September 2020)

Students and Directors of Studies are reminded that any Part II student whose application to progress to Part III was declined by the Permissions Committee in July and who sits the classed examination in September will be able to request a review of their application in light of their classed examination performance prior to the start of the academic year 2020/2021.

An announcement to this effect was circulated on 22 June 2020, and is copied above for your convenience.

The Faculty expects the results of the classed Part II examination to be available to students and Directors of Studies by close of business on Tuesday, 29 September 2020.

Applications for reconsideration by the Permissions Committee should be made by the student's Director of Studies and must reach the Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics by 10am on Thursday, 1 October 2020, via undergrad-office@maths.cam.ac.uk.

The student’s Director of Studies will be expected to comment briefly on the student’s results in the classed examination. No further elements will be required provided a full case for support (including Part II supervision reports) was submitted previously, in June.

The Permissions Committee expects to communicate its decisions by close of business on Thursday, 1 October 2020.

Students given permission in this way will be able to commence Part III in October 2020, albeit at very short notice, provided they have not graduated.

Transfer from Part II NST Physics to Part III of the Mathematical Tripos for the Academic Year 2020/2021 (Added 28 May 2020)

The Part III Permissions Committee understands that Physics students wishing to progress to Part III Physics will not be classed this year, and will consider applications from NST Physics students hoping to transfer to Part III Mathematics on a case-by-case basis. The following general principles will apply:

(i) The Permissions Committee is likely to interpret admissions criteria generously this year in light of the unprecedented situation applicants find themselves in;
(ii) given the unusual circumstances and examination format, the Permissions Committee will pay particular attention to evidence from Part II supervision reports;
(iii) the Permissions Committee is more likely than in a normal year to take into account applicants' performance in earlier parts of the Tripos.

The Faculty Board has recommended that applicants whose applications are supported by their college and who have obtained a first in each of IB Physics A, Physics B, and IB Mathematics should normally be allowed to progress to Part III.

As usual, applications from candidates from other Triposes, such as NST Physics, must demonstrate ability in an area of mathematics comparable with candidates from the Mathematical Tripos. The application should highlight the mathematical experience of the applicant and the match with the type of Part III courses they wish to do. The application should include rankings in each of the first two years of the Tripos, with details about performance in individual subjects. It should also include evidence from Part II supervision reports in mathematical subjects, the results of TP1 and TP2, and any information that would be used to determine progression to Part III Physics (that is, computing project and research review, and but not the results of the formative Easter-term assessment). 

The Permissions Committee does not expect any NST Physics student wishing to transfer to Part III Mathematics to undergo optional vivas.

Applications should reach the Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics by noon on Monday 29th June 2020. It is possible that we may be able to make some decisions sooner.

 

General information

  1. Admissions: Part III admissions decisions for continuing Part II students are made by the Faculty Board by a process outlined at the bottom of this page. The effect of this process is as follows. Permission is automatic if you obtain a First in Part II Mathematics. If you do not obtain a First in Part II Mathematics you may ask the college to apply on your behalf for permission to continue. The committee set up to make decisions will consider your past examination performance, the recommendation from your College, your own letter and any other relevant material to decide if you 'are more likely than not to get at least a Merit in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos'.

    Note that your degree aim will be BA+MMath. Specifically, you must NOT graduate at the end of Part II. If a student graduates with a BA after three years study, they cease to be eligible for the MMath. Applications to the Student Loans Company should be for 'Maths 4 Years' with UCAS code G100, Campus B, qualification MMath.

  2. Dates: Part III begins on the first week of Michaelmas Full Term, with registration and an induction meeting.

  3. Terms: Part III is timetabled within undergraduate terms but vacations are important for consolidating understanding of lecture material and for writing essay (see later). Many students stay in Cambridge for part of the vacations to use library facilities.

  4. Location: All Part III activities take place at CMS, where there is a large room for the exclusive use of Part III students (with books, computers, coffee-making facilities etc). The Betty and Gordon Moore science library is on-site.

  5. Help and advice: You will have more direct contact with the Departments in Part III than in Part II, and you will be allocated a subject contact in the Departments with whom you will be required to meet from time to time. But your College Director of Studies and College Tutor will play broadly the same role as when you were undergraduates. In Part III there are relatively few undergraduate-style supervisions. It is therefore essential that if you experience difficulties and drop behind you consult one of your academic advisors promptly.

  6. The course: The course structure is as follows. Lecture courses are either 16 lectures (2 units) or 24 lectures (3 units). Each course has an examination paper, taken in June. You are allowed to submit up to 19 units of examination credit. 3 units of this may be an extended essay written some time between the end of Michaelmas Term and the deadline for submission, which is early in Easter Term. (If you submit an essay then you are limited to 16 units of written examination.) The essay is not compulsory, but the great majority of Part III students choose to write essays; the work is generally an enjoyable change and a valuable training for research. Most students take more lecture courses than are required for the examination and then decide later which they will choose for the examination. (This choice is made early in Easter Term.)

  7. Choosing courses: A list of the courses expected to be available in the next academic year will be distributed. Further changes to this list will be avoided if possible, but may be essential. Course descriptions are available on the web.  These are the descriptions of the current year's courses, which will be updated by mid-July. In October each Part III student will receive a booklet containing finalised course descriptions.

    There is no requirement that students must restrict their choice of courses to those given by one Department. Most students take courses from one or two subject areas, but some take a wide variety. Courses may be selected freely from those available, within the constraints of the lecture timetable (which is arranged carefully to avoid clashes between related courses). The examination timetable corresponds to the lecture timetable, i.e. courses that are lectured at the same time are examined at the same time. It is not therefore possible for students to sit examination papers in two courses that were lectured at the same time.

  8. Conclusion: Part III is hard work. It is extremely important to keep up with the lectures, and this requires a lot of time outside of the lectures themselves. But you will learn a lot of interesting mathematics!

 

Statement by the Faculty Board

Under University Regulations, Cambridge students who wish to take Part III of the Mathematical Tripos must have the permission of the Faculty Board of Mathematics. The Faculty Board has appointed a Permissions Committee to make decisions on its behalf, and has issued guidelines to that Committee.

The Faculty aims to allow those students to progress who are more likely than not to get at least a Merit in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos. This is the criterion for permission to progress from Part II to Part III.

The Faculty has decided that those obtaining a First in Part II of the Mathematical Tripos should automatically be allowed to progress to Part III.  Students who are not granted permission automatically (including candidates from other Triposes even if they have a first) and who wish to proceed to Part III, should ask their College to apply to the Faculty's Permissions Committee on their behalf. Each application should consist of

  • a letter from the student,
  • a letter from the college written by a mathematician who knows the student,
  • and, when medical evidence is present, a letter from the Senior Tutor.

Notes on the application procedure (and appeals procedure), including advice on the form of the student letter and the college letter, are given below.

The Faculty Board has instructed the Permissions Committee that decisions are to be made on a case-by-case basis and that, though the Committee may consider past experience, it is not to be bound by precedent. The Faculty Board has recommended that

  1. students in the top 40% in Part II of the Mathematical Tripos whose applications are supported by the college should normally be allowed to progress to Part III;
  2. students obtaining a first in NST physics and whose applications are supported by the college should normally be allowed to progress to Part III.

Applications should reach the Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics by noon on Monday 29th June 2020. The Permissions committee start their considerations soon after this deadline, so any delay is extremely inconvenient. If this deadline is missed (e.g. because of a late change of mind), and a good case can be made, applications can be dealt with by two members of the Permissions Committee acting in consultation.

To repeat, students and Colleges are reminded that, if a student graduates with a BA after three years study, they cease to be eligible for the MMath. A student who is unsuccessful in their application for permission to take Part III can graduate at a later congregation or in absentia.

 

Notes on Progression from Part II to Part III of the Mathematical Tripos

  1. Deadlines. The College is responsible for ensuring that applications reach the Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics by noon on the Monday just under two weeks after the Part II results have been announced in the Senate House, i.e. by noon on 29th June 2020. Note that if this deadline missed, and a good case can be made, late applications will, exceptionally, be considered.

  2. Destination. The application should be sent to:

    The Permissions Committee
    Secretary of the Faculty Board of Mathematics
    c/o Undergraduate Office
    Centre for Mathematical Sciences
    Wilberforce Road
    Cambridge CB3 0WA

    An email to undergrad-office@maths.cam.ac.uk is acceptable. Please retain a copy for your records.

  3. Format. Where possible typed letters are much preferred to handwritten notes. If emailing an application, please send the letter in Portable Document Format (PDF).

  4. Student Letter. Students are more likely to be admitted if their letter makes it clear how doing Part III will fit into their future plans, what type of courses they wish to do and why they think they will do well in them. It is important that students discuss their plans with someone in the College.

  5. College Letters. The Faculty aims to allow those students to progress who are more likely than not to get at least a merit in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos. This is the criterion for permission to progress from Part II to Part III.

    The college letter should be an academic assessment written by a mathematician who knows the student, normally their Director of Studies. Remembering that Part III is a very demanding course, intended to stretch the most able students, this academic judgement should be reasoned and supported by firm evidence, e.g. by reference to

    • past performance,
    • supervision reports,
    • comments sought for the purpose of the letter from supervisors in the student's chosen field of study.

    The primary aim of the college letter is to provide evidence to help the Permissions Committee's deliberations. It should also contain a recommendation, indicating whether the college supports the application and if so, how strongly. The letter should address the question as to whether the applicant's Tripos record does provide a representative picture of the student's mathematical abilities.

    The primary evidence is the detailed Tripos record of the student. Additional evidence should be provided if it is thought that the Tripos record does not provide a representative picture of the student's mathematical abilities and there are reasons to believe that the student will be more, or less, suited to Part III. For example the first three years of the Tripos do not necessarily allow students with specific abilities in a particular area to show their potential in the same way as they might in Part III.

    In case of illness or disability a letter from the Senior Tutor should also be submitted to accompany a letter from a medical practitioner. The Permissions Committee may also wish to consider the applicant's performance in earlier parts of the Tripos.

  6. Candidates from other Triposes. Applications from candidates from other Triposes, e.g. NST must demonstrate ability in an area of mathematics comparable with candidates from the Mathematical Tripos. The application should highlight the mathematical experience of the applicant and the match with the type of Part III courses they wish to do. The application should include rankings in each of the three years of the Tripos, with details about performance in individual subjects.

  7. Examination Appeals. If a student appeals against the result of their Part II examination the application for progression to Part III will not be decided until the result of that appeal is known.

  8. Who tells Whom. The Chair of the Permissions Committee will communicate the decision to the Senior Tutor of the College who should pass it on to the student and the Director of Studies.

  9. Appeals. If a candidate wishes to appeal against the decision of the Permissions Committee the "Procedure for the Review of Decisions of University Bodies", listed in Chapter II, Section 26 of the Statutes and Ordinances. It will help us speed up the process if you simultaneously send a copy of the appeal to the Undergraduate Office (email: undergrad-office@maths.cam.ac.uk).