Undergraduate Teaching 2023-24

Course overview

Course overview

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The undergraduate engineering course is organised in four blocks, each taking one academic year.  Year I ( known as "IA") and 2 (IB) together form Part I, and years 3 (IIA) and 4 (IIB) form Part II.  Each year has three terms, two of eight weeks of formal teaching and one of seven weeks. The periods of formal teaching and examinations in the third term vary from Part I to Part II.

Course structure diagram

Assessment , progression requirements and industrial experience

Part IA and IB students sit Tripos examinations at the end of the Easter term. Part IIA and IIB students sit them at the start of the Easter term. Continuous assessment by coursework is used together with the examination marks for classing the students at the end of each year.  See the Department's statement on assessment types for an explanation of the differences between formative and summative assessment activities and details of how you can expect to receive feedback on your performance throughout the course.

Progression requirements are set by the Faculty Board.  Students may not take the same part of the same Tripos more than once.  Students must also fulfil the industrial experience requirement.

The Engineering Department has a commitment to inclusive teaching and has published a transferable skills statement to set out the skills and attributes that we expect undergraduates to acquire during their time at Cambridge.


Lecture courses

Experimental work


Part I

(two years)


General engineering for first five terms, no choice.


Sixth term: elective lecture courses

Mechanics, structures, materials, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, electrical engineering, electronics, information, control, mathematics

Approximately two 2h laboratory experiments per week covering all subjects, plus:

Engineering drawing exercises;


Projects: structural design; Integrated Electrical project; integrated design project ‘Robot lab’; integrated coursework ‘Buildings in earthquakes’; mini-project ‘Materials characterisation’.

Part IA: Four 3h examination papers, no choice of questions.

1/9 of the overall credit is from experimental work.

Part IB: Mainly 2h examination papers, choice (broadly) four questions out of six. 15% credit from experimental work

After Part I: specialise into engineering area of choice, or keep a broad focus

Engineering areas:

Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Bioengineering; Civil Engineering; Energy, Sustainability and the Environment; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Electrical and Information Science; Information and Computer Engineering; Instrumentation and Control.


Part II Engineering: Two years

Part IIA


10 modules out of a choice of c.45

16 hours of lectures per module

Labs / coursework associated with each module. Two projects in Easter Term.

1.5h examination paper for each module.

30% credit from experimental work.

Part IIB


8 modules out of a choice of c.75

12-14 hours of lectures per module

Modules may include coursework.

Individual project runs throughout the year.

1.5h examination for some modules; others are assessed by coursework. 50% credit from project.

Graduate with Honours degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Engineering (MEng)


In accordance with national guidelines our expectation is that students will undertake 1,200 hours of study each year.  The teaching is delivered intensively in three 8 week terms so students can expect to work longer hours during these periods (typically in the range of 36-45 hours per week).  Where possible activities are moved out of term time to spread the workload and reduce pressure points.

Parts IA and IB (first and second years)

During the first two years of the course students study substantially the same subjects. These extend across the whole range of engineering and include mechanical, thermofluids, electrical, information and civil engineering, design, manufacture and management, together with the mathematical and computing skills that underpin much of modern engineering.

Parts IA and IB provide a coherent basic course of the principles underpinning engineering science as a whole. Although Part IA is not designed to be taken alone, undergraduates may change to other subjects after one year, and indeed they must do if they wish to take the course leading to the Chemical Engineering Tripos.

Parts IIA and IIB Engineering and MET (third and fourth years)

At the end of their second year students decide which Tripos to prepare for in their third and fourth years. Most students remain in the department and progress to Part II of the Engineering Tripos, building on material covered in the first two years of the Engineering Tripos. A smaller number specialise in Manufacturing Engineering, a sepatrate course within the department.

A few students decide to change department to read Computer Science, Management Studies or indeed any other subject for which they are qualified. A small number of students may spend their third year on one of the student exchanges.

Part II Engineering

Students staying with the Engineering Tripos may specialise in their chosen discipline, so qualifying for a degree in one or more of the nine engineering areas covering the whole field of engineering. Alternatively, they may choose to study a broad range of modules and to qualify for a degree in General Engineering. During the first two terms of Part IIA everyone takes ten modules. After the exams, the third term is devoted entirely to two projects chosen from a wide range of available topics. In Part IIB students take eight modules, and again they may choose to specialise in one or more engineering areas or keep a broad focus. They also undertake a major project that occupies about half of the total time throughout the year.


Students taking MET are based at the Institute for Manufacturing in West Cambridge and specialise completely in manufacturing engineering and management with an integrated course that combines academic and real-world aspects. In Part IIA they study ten subjects and undertake coursework including working in a small team on a business start-up project. The course is complemented by visits to industrial sites and a professional skills development programme. In Part IIB they take short, Cambridge-based intensive modules, delivered by a combination of academics and industrialists interspersed with group projects. One of these is Cambridge-based, designing and running an automated manufacture and assembly production line. The others are out in industry working to find a solution to a current problem for the company. The final part of the course is an individual project chosen by the student. The course includes close involvement with industry, and may include an overseas study tour.

What do Engineering students graduate with?

The Engineering Tripos is an Integrated Masters, a four-year degree which extends undergraduate studies to Masters level. A few students take the BA degree after three years, so graduating and leaving Cambridge. They may not then continue to the MEng. However, most students successfully complete all four years of the Engineering Tripos and graduate at the end of that time taking the BA and MEng degrees together.

  • BA (Hons) degree - students receive a transcript and a class for each year (IA, IB, IIA). Students on the four-year course qualify for the BA after three years, but do not take the degree until the following year.
  • MEng (Hons) - for the fourth year (IIB), awarded together with the BA.
  • Cambridge MA - the MA (Cantab) is awarded to students 7 years after their first term of residence.

The BA (Hons) degree

Until recently, no official class was assigned to the overall degree issued by the University of Cambridge.  However, all Undergraduate Engineering Tripos students beginning their study (i.e. "matriculating") in October 2020 and onward will recieve an overall BA (Hons) degree classification at the end of 3rd year, which is calculated on the basis of 30% from IB and 70% from IIA.  Additionally, there will be a class associated with each of years 1-3 which is separate from this. For those following the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos the overall BA degree classification will be based 100% on IIA.

Also, your degree certificate will not state the subject(s) that you have studied: the degree you receive is the BA degree.  Cambridge does not award the BEng degree, which can be a little confusing to some employers.  The University will provide you with a comprehensive transcript listing the papers you took and the results obtained to supplement your degree certificate.


This information is adapted from a statement on the University's CamDATA website

The MEng

Students who successfully complete Part IIB receive the MEng (Hons).  The MEng is unclassed (though there are Distinction and Merit categories).  The MEng is, with the exception of the "Engineering Science" Engineering Area, is accredited by a number of professional engineering institutions.  For further information see the accreditation of the MEng.

The Cambridge MA

In most UK universities, the Master of Arts is a degree awarded by examination. At Cambridge, the MA is conferred by right on holders of the BA degree of the University and on certain other senior members and is not available as a postgraduate qualification.

If you hold a Cambridge BA, you may proceed to the MA not less than six years from the end of your first term of residence, providing that you have held your BA degree for at least two years.

This information is extracted from the University's guidance on the Cambridge MA

Further information


Last updated on 28/08/2023 12:39