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Part II assessment

In acknowledgement of the general disruption that students have suffered, all HPS Part II students are asked to drop EITHER one paper OR the dissertation (but not the primary sources since these have already been submitted) from the five elements they would normally have been assessed on.

This means that for students whose dissertation plans have been significantly damaged, they can elect not to submit them. Students whose dissertations are progressing well (and Option B students who have already elected not to write a dissertation) can instead drop one of their other paper options. Each remaining element (primary sources, dissertation, each paper) will then count for 25% of the overall mark.

The deadline for choosing which element of the course to drop is Monday 27 April, which is also the deadline for submitting the dissertation.


Primary source essays have already been submitted, and no changes are proposed here. There will be no general change to dissertation word limits and deadlines; however, extensions may be granted where evidence is presented of time lost due to disruption caused by COVID-19. Students working on historical themes, for example, may not have been able to access archives and libraries as planned and may have had to modify topics to use online primary sources at short notice. As explained above, students whose dissertation plans have been significantly damaged can elect not to submit this element of the course: this path is likely to be preferable to seeking a long extension for your dissertation, because it will allow you to graduate in a timely manner.


Where assessment is normally via unseen written exams taking place in Cambridge, we will adopt a form of open-book examination with online release of papers and submission of scripts within 24 hours. We believe this provides the greatest continuity with respect to traditional forms of assessment. As is already the case, exam papers will be divided into two sections: Section A, consisting of three general questions of which candidates are required to answer one; and Section B, consisting of twelve more specific questions, of which candidates are required to answer three. All answers will carry equal weight.

Extending the time slot to 24 hours per paper is intended to take account of different time zones, technical constraints and difficulties in accessing and submitting papers online. Students are certainly not expected to spend 24 hours working on each paper: it should be possible to compose good answers to all the questions in a given paper in around three hours. To discourage students from spending unhealthy amounts of time on these exams, a word limit will be set at no more than 1,500 words per answer, hence 6,000 words per paper.

Papers will be released, submitted and marked through Moodle Assignment. Answers may be checked for plagiarism using Turnitin.

Answers should be submitted as one DOC, DOCX or PDF file for each paper. Each answer should be clearly headed with the question number and the question. Put your Blind Grade Number (BGN) at the start of the document, but do not put your name anywhere in the document.

Borrowed papers

Borrowed papers from HPS Part II (for Classics, History, Philosophy, HSPS and PBS) will be assessed in the same manner as HPS Part II papers; namely as open-book examinations to be completed within a 24-hour window.

BBS Minor Options

These are all single-paper options and will be assessed as open-book examinations within a 24-hour window, in the same general manner as explained for Part II examinations above. The limit of 1,500 words per question will apply for all of these examinations too, including for the two papers which demand three answers.

  • Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine: This paper will have 12 questions divided into two sections, with 6 questions in each section. Section A is Philosophy of Medicine, Section B is Ethics of Medicine. Students are required to answer four questions in total and must answer at least one question from each section.
  • Early Medicine: This paper will have 15 questions. The paper is not divided into sections. Students are required to answer three questions in total.
  • Modern Medicine and Biomedical Sciences: This paper will have 15 questions. The paper is not divided into sections. Students are required to answer three questions in total.

Those offering a dissertation linked to one of these Minor Subjects should follow the general guidance for BBS dissertations.


Thursday 28 May Paper 1: Early History of Science, Medicine and Technology
(also Classics Part II Paper O11)
BBS Paper 65: Early Medicine
(also History Part II Paper 11)
Monday 1 June Paper 2: Sciences and Empires
Wednesday 3 June Paper 5: Epistemology and Metaphysics of Science
(also HSPS Part IIB Paper HPS5 and Philosophy Part IB Paper 6)
Monday 8 June Paper 3: Modern Medicine and Life Sciences
BBS Paper 66: Modern Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Thursday 11 June Paper 4: Philosophy and Scientific Practice
(also PBS Part II Paper HPS4)
Tuesday 16 June Paper 6: Ethics and Politics of Science, Technology and Medicine
(also HSPS Part IIB Paper HPS6)
BBS Paper 45: Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine

Each exam paper will be released on Moodle at 12noon BST on the date shown. The deadline for submitting your answers is 11.59am the following day.

Accessing the Moodle courses

You will be able to access the Moodle course containing each exam paper 72 hours before the assessment is due to begin. Once the assessment begins the question paper will appear in the course as a PDF to view or download.

Follow the links below to access the courses. They will also be added to the list of courses on your Moodle dashboard.

Links for HPS students

Links for BBS students

Link for Classics students

Links for History students

Link for HSPS students

Link for PBS students

Link for Philosophy students

First-sit examinations

'First-sit examinations' will be available if students have poor access to IT, health problems, caring responsibilities, inadequate working conditions or similar impediments that prevent them from taking the open-book exams. The first-sit examinations will take place when the University reopens and is working normally again. They will follow the normal examination procedures that would take place in a typical year. We cannot say when these assessments will take place, because of uncertainty about the pathway of COVID-19.

Further information

If you have any questions about the specific details of these proposals please contact the course manager for HPS Part II, Dániel Margócsy.