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Part III (MMath/MASt)


General information

Part III is designed as a year where you make the transition from undergraduate to independent learner. As such, it is an intensive and demanding course, which is intended for advanced mathematics students with a high level of self-motivation and the capacity for independent study.

The expectation is that most students will handle the amount and depth of mathematical learning required without further assistance. There is not as much formal support in Part III as in the first three years of the Cambridge undergraduate course, but there are many informal opportunities for support for Part III students. This informal support takes the form of events such as preparatory workshops, study groups and the Part III seminar series.  It is recommended that Part III students make full use of this support. See the Academic Support section of the current student webpage.

The Part III cohort is a large and diverse group and contains some of the best mathematicians from all over the world. Students enjoy interacting with other like-minded bright minds, and typically meet future friends and colleagues among their peers. The size of the year group means that there is limited opportunity for individual contact with senior members of the department.

Feedback shows that many students enjoy the breadth and depth of courses, the interaction with their fellow Part III students, the opportunity to practice giving a talk in the Part III Seminar Series, and the process of writing an essay. Such an essay is often the student’s first foray into reading research papers and producing an extended piece of mathematical writing, and is a large contributor to the transition to independent work.

Potential applicants should bear in mind that the assessment for Part III is mainly exam-based, with the option of replacing one course (out of, typically, 5 to 7) with an essay. All exams are taken at the end of the year. There is no assessed course-work throughout the year.

As a guideline of whether you have the correct mathematical background for the area of courses you would intend to study in Part III, we recommend that you check yourself on the "Reality checks" provided on the Advice by subject area of our How to prepare for Part III pages, where available.

The Course Specification document will also give you more information on what to expect from Part III.

Academic Entrance Requirements

The MASt/MMath is a mathematically challenging and intensive course for well-qualified students with a high level of independence and self motivation. The minimum entry requirement for non-Cambridge graduates is normally a UK first class honours degree in mathematics, physics, engineering, or statistics, or an equivalent qualification. If you are currently studying at a non-UK institution you can use the University International Qualifications Directory to look up international equivalencies. Candidates from within Cambridge should see here.

Course Structure

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 selected from the wide range offered by both Mathematics Departments, and students may freely mix courses offered by either Department. Most courses are self-contained. 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 Cambridge Summer Research in Mathematics Programme is 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.

Postgraduate Open Day

The Faculty will be involved in the University's Virtual Postgraduate Open Day in November 2022.  Click here for further information about the University Postgraduate Open Day. The Faculty's plans will be available in due course. In the meantime, see our virtual tour.