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About the Tripos

At Cambridge we call the undergraduate course the Tripos – named after the three-legged stool students used to sit on when taking examinations. The Tripos runs for three years and at the end of it you graduate with the Bachelor of Arts qualification.

The Music Tripos consists of three parts: Part IA, Part IB and Part II; one part is taken each academic year. The teaching of the Tripos is divided into three eight week terms, traditionally called Michaelmas (October–early December), Lent (January–March), and Easter (April–early June).

In each year of the Tripos you take six papers (or modules). In Part IA all six papers are compulsory (though you can choose between recital, composition or extended essay in one paper); in Part IB you take three compulsory papers and select three more from a list of options; and in Part II you are free to choose all six papers. Part IA provides you with a thorough grounding in the basic musicological disciplines – history, analysis, harmony and counterpoint, and general musicianship skills – after which you are well equipped to tackle the broader choices in Parts IB and II.

All papers are taught through lectures, seminars, and supervisions (small-group teaching in Colleges). The Faculty of Music organises lectures and seminars, and Colleges organise supervisions (with guidance from the Faculty of Music). Although the content of the supervisions may vary between Colleges, everyone receives the same lecture and seminar content.


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