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Subject to any restrictions announced in a particular year by the Faculty Board under the provisions of Regulation 30, candidates are required to offer in the examination for Part II of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences of the Natural Sciences Tripos:

(a) the examination requirements of one Major Subject;

(b) the examination requirements of one Minor Subject;

(c) a dissertation of not more than 6,000 words, excluding tables, figures, and references.

All subjects make provision for candidates to offer a dissertation.


General Information for BBS examination

The maximum marks allocated to each component of the examination will be in the following proportion

Up to academic year 2017-18From academic year 2018-19
Major Subject 65 64
Minor Subject 15 16
Dissertation 20 20
Total 100 100

Marks for each paper are provided by the contributing Departments out of 100 (except for the five major subject papers in Biochemistry, which are each out of 80).  The major subject paper marks are then summed to give a total out of 400, then scaled to give a mark out of 64 by the calculation (X/400) * 64, where X is the mark out of 400.  The minor subject marks are scaled to a mark out of 16 by the calculation (Y/100) * 16, where Y is the minor subject mark out of 100.  The dissertation marks are scaled to a mark out of 20 by the calculation (Z /100) * 20, where Z is the dissertation mark out of 100.  The marks for each of the components are then summed to give a total out of 100, and this is used in classing.

The papers offered will normally be the same as those for the single Major Subject. For most Minor Subjects the paper is borrowed from another Tripos. There is a separate class list for NST Part II BBS - you will not be classed or ranked alongside single-subject Part II students, but with other BBS students.

The Faculty Board's dissertation marking criteria for NST Part II can be downloaded here.  Please note that dissertation supervisors are generally not involved in marking and should not give estimates of the dissertation's final mark.

The marking and classing criteria for BBS can be downloaded here.

Advice on examinations skills, marking criteria and links to Orders of Examinations etc are available in the general Exams tab

For information on how to register for exams, please click here.

For Senior Examiners Reports please click here

Examination requirements for Major Subjects

You should consult the course handbooks issued by departments for detailed information about the form and conduct of the examinations in your chosen papers.

All Major subjects are currently assessed by four written papers of three hours each except for the following:

Major SubjectAssessment
Biochemistry Five written papers: four papers of three hours each and one paper of three and a quarter hours
Human Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour Two core papers to be assessed by a three-hour written examination, plus the examination requirements of two optional papers

Examination requirements for Minor Subjects

Candidates should also consult the examination regulations of the relevant Tripos for latest examination requirements.

All Minor Subjects are currently assessed with one paper of three hours except for the following:

PaperMinor SubjectAssessment
104 Human Evolution and Palaeolithic Archaeology One written paper of three hours duration worth 85% of the overall mark, and one practical examination worth 15% of the overall mark.
122 EnterpriseTECH

An individual assessment worth 25% of the Minor Subject mark, a two-minute team video worth 15% of the Minor Subject mark, a six-minute team pitch worth 10% of the Minor Subject mark, and a 3,000-word team commercial feasibility report worth 50% of the Minor Subject mark

136 Science Communication

Delivery of a science communication activity worth 70% of the Minor Subject mark and a 1,500 words essay worth 30% of the Minor Subject mark

137 Surgical and Radiological Anatomy

One Short Answer Questions paper of one hour duration worth 20 % of the Minor Subject mark, a 2,500-3,000 words report on the chosen Lent option worth 50% of the Minor Subject mark, and an individual presentation worth 30% of the Minor Subject mark (20% for slides and 10% for delivery)

Publication of results

The BBS course borrows a large number of papers from various Triposes. Therefore, the final meeting of examiners has to take place once all the borrowed papers have been marked and their marks approved by the respective Senior Examiners. Therefore the results for BBS students are published later than those of corresponding single subject students.

The Gordon Wigan Prize

The Gordon Wigan Prize for Biological and Biomedical Sciences shall be awarded to the candidate who is at the top of the class list for NST Part II BBS, and achieves a First Class mark. The prize is a book token for a value of £100.

Information contacts

For information regarding Major Subjects such as content and timetables, please see the contact details on the Major Subjects webpage.

For information regarding Minor Subjects such as content and timetables, please see the contact details on the Minor Subjects webpage.

For general administration of BBS and general questions which cannot be answered in departments, please contact the Faculty of Biology Office (, (7)66899)

If you wish to move to or from BBS or wish to change Major and/or Minor subject(s), please contact the departments involved AND the Faculty of Biology Office.