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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Part II Oral Examination (Tripos 2022)

The following notes have been agreed by the Faculty Board for the guidance of candidates and examiners. The oral examinations for Part II of the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos in Michaelmas 2021 for Tripos 2022 will be held on Thursday 30th September and Friday, 1 October 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the PII Oral exams will take place online and will be optional. Colleges will be advised of the exact date for each language and will be sent the relevant timetables from 24 September. 

Please contact your College Tutorial Office after this date if you have not heard from them directly by then. 

Exceptionally, the PII Orals this year will be optional. If you choose to take the Oral exam, this must be offered in the same language as one or both your Part II language papers. The language of the examination shall be one of the languages offered at Part IA or Part IB. N.B. paper Pg. 3 constitutes a language offered at Part IB for these purposes. 

Please see the Supplemental Guidelines for the Conduct of the Oral C examination in Tripos 2022. Please make sure to read the Proposed changes to the Oral C examination for MML and HML Tripos 2022.

The content, duration and purpose of the examination remain unchanged despite the move to an online and optional format.


Examiners' Reports: As with written papers, previous years' Part II Oral Examiners' Reports are kept for your reference on the Part II Orals Moodle page.  You are encouraged to read past examiners’ reports for your own languages as well as the annual general reports compiled by the Senior Examiner. 

The Oral Exam

The exam takes the form of a presentation of your Year Abroad Project lasting normally 5 minutes, and a discussion about the Year Abroad Project between you and two examiners, lasting normally 10 minutes. If you had special permission not to do the Year Abroad and therefore did not complete a Year Abroad Project, you will need to agree a suitable subject area with your Director of Studies. The subject area must be given in English. 

Examiners may start by asking you a warm-up question (e.g. about your year abroad), but this will not be part of the assessment. You will be asked to state the topic of your examination in the foreign language and your name. 

The oral exam is not simply a test of practical oral fluency. Your presentation will serve as a starting point for interaction with the examiners. We want to assess how well you can discuss matters of intellectual substance and interest in a foreign language.

Please note that the examiners will not necessarily be experts in the field of your chosen topic. It is part of your task to present your findings bearing this in mind. Be prepared to discuss your topic in a broader context.

Equal weight will be given in the marking of the oral examination to quality of language and quality of content and presentation.

You will have investigated and reflected upon your chosen topic in advance of the examination in order to write the Year Abroad Project, therefore specific knowledge of some aspect(s) of the topic is expected.

You should have ideas and observations ready, with evidence or arguments to substantiate them.

The subject area of the Year Abroad Project will not necessarily be related to the culture and/or the language in which the oral exam is offered.

You will be expected to give a presentation of normally five minutes. You should not read or memorize a prepared script, but be ready to talk in an informed manner about aspects of your Year Abroad Project. You must be able to respond spontaneously to a range of questions and comments in discussion, listening carefully to the questions and comments of the examiners.

You should avoid being too informal and impressionistic, and should use a register of the spoken language that is appropriate to the subject matter. Grammatical accuracy will be expected throughout.

Any reasonable interpretation of the topic is acceptable. You should aim to be factually accurate, and credit will be given for the successful development of arguments in justification of the point of view you adopt.

All geographical varieties of the language being examined are welcome in the Oral exam. You will not be disadvantaged for using, or not using, a particular variety.

Brief notes may be used as a memory aid in the examination, but must not be allowed to impede the natural flow of the discussion. You may consult your notes to remind you of a point you intend to raise, but at no point should you read text directly from your notes as this will be penalized. 

The above point also applies to discussion of Translation Projects: it is acceptable for you to refer to your notes to remind yourselves of a particular word or phrase, but you should not read out whole sentences or passages, either from the source text or from their English translation. You should bear in mind that the purpose of the Oral exam is not to assess the quality of your translation in detail, but rather to evaluate your level of awareness and your analysis of the translation issues raised by the source text.

You may, if you wish, provide an image or a single A4 sheet of non-textual data for your examiners to consult during the presentation, however there is no obligation to do so and you should not feel that you will be disadvantaged by not doing so.

Please note that this year's examination will not be recorded.

Please note the importance of punctual attendance for your online oral examination. Only in quite exceptional circumstances (e.g. illness, religious festivals) can any rearrangement be considered.