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Options Courses

In the second year of MVST, in addition to the core courses, medical students have the opportunity to study two options. The option courses start in the middle of the Lent term and continue into the Easter term. Vets follow a compulsory course in Comparative Vertebrate Biology.

The options are divided into two lists, with four options in each List. Students are asked to choose one option from List 1 and one from List 2. The options are an opportunity for students to pursue in more detail subjects, or subject areas, which interested them in the core courses.

Each Option will, to an extent, allow each of the following.

  • Self-selection
    give students the opportunity to choose what to emphasise
  • Deepening
    encourage conceptual understanding, link knowledge to understanding, and be underpinned by an appreciation of experimental and technical work.
  • Broadening
    enable students both to make connections between core medical science and clinical, social, population and public health aspects of medicine, and to put their knowledge into a wider scientific context.
  • Transition to Part II
    promote a generic maturing of skills and broadening of horizons, together with an enhanced knowledge and understanding in specific contexts, bridging the gap between formal structured teaching in IA and IB and the more open-ended style of Part II. Options will not be regarded as pre-requisites for entry to a particular Part II.
  • Self-direction and curiosity-driven
    give students the opportunity to explore topics in an open-ended way, making the fullest use of the College supervision system, and to present the results of their work to their teachers and peers.

You should expect to receive two supervisions from your College on each Option.

Students will be asked to make their choices early in the Lent term, and will be sent an email asking them to complete an online survey to express their preferences. Students should seek advice from their Directors of Studies before making their choices. Numbers in some options have to be limited, and students will therefore be asked to specify two choices from each list of options. If an option is oversubscribed, preference will be given to students who achieved a First in Part IA of the Tripos but, as far as possible, students will be placed in their first choice option.

The Examination

The marks gained by assessment of material in the Special Options will count only towards performance in the Tripos. The marks obtained for each option will count for 50% of the total option mark. For vets the Comparative Vertebrate Biology course is assessed for both the Tripos and Second Vet MB.

The formal assessment will consist of a single three-hour paper, which will examine the material in both List I and List II options. The paper will be divided into two sections, corresponding to the two lists of options and further into sub-sections corresponding to the individual options. Candidates will be required to answer questions from the List I and List II sections corresponding to the options which they have taken.

Copies of the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 options exam papers are available on this web-site, and these will give a general idea of the layout and type of question asked.

The two options for medical students; (CVB for vets), contribute 17% of the total aggregate mark for MVST 1B. The maximum Tripos marks allocated to each subject in MVST IB are in the following proportions:

  • Biology of Disease 10
  • Mechanisms of Drug Action 10
  • Neurobiology with Animal/Human Behaviour 10
  • Human Reproduction/Veterinary Reproductive Biology 8
  • Two Options/Comparative Vertebrate Biology 8
    Total 46

The choice of options in 2013-14 is:

List 1
Clinical and Applied Physiology Course Outline Timetable 
Infectious Diseases and host pathogen interactions Course Outline Timetable
Experimental Psychology Course Outline Timetable
Use and Abuse : Pharmacology of Janus Drugs Course Outline Timetable
List 2
Developmental Biology : Concepts to Clinic Course Outline Timetable
Man, Molecules and the Environment Course Outline Timetable
Sensorimotor Neurobiology Course Outline Timetable
Tumour Biology Course Outline Timetable

Special Options to which students have been assigned can be viewed here.