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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Your Questions Answered


Please see below answers to various examination questions we’ve received over the past several days. We will be updating this document as more questions arise. If you cannot see an answer to a question you have on this document please email




How will examiners treat answers that are outside the word-count limits?

For exercises (e.g. essays) that have a specified word count in the rubric, the word count has been provided for your own protection, i.e. to prevent over-work. You should stick to these word counts, but you should not stress about meeting the count with precision: examiners will allow a reasonable margin for spill-over. There are no specified penalties for exceeding the word count, but examiners will stop reading beyond a certain point where you have clearly and willfully exceeded the count.


I am confused about what is meant by simple exam-style referencing. Can you give a precise example?

This is a very basic parenthetical reference to acknowledge that an idea is not your own. For example, “One critic refers to Döblin's novel as a ‘labyrinth’ (Schmidt, Berlin Alexanderplatz).” Or even more basically, “One critic (Schmidt) refers to the novel as a ‘labyrinth’”. Examiners are instructed not to expect more than they would do for a timed exam essay. Accordingly, page numbers are not required.


Will I be penalized if I provide proper referencing and footnotes like for a dissertation?

No, you will not be penalized, but examiners are instructed not to take this into account, not to read bibliographical footnotes or lists of works consulted, and not to award marks for them.


Especially for the single-essay option, can I use and refer to, or quote from, secondary sources that I would not normally have access to in a timed exam?

For any essay you can consult any sources available to you, and you may of course quote from critics. However, examiners are instructed not to expect reference to secondary material beyond the level at which you might do so in an exam.

Can I use images in my exam essays?

You can use images however, examiners will not take them into account. However, images that form part of the main body of work (tables, graphs, etc.) will be considered by examiners.


I have a clash with a paper I’m taking from another Tripos. What should I do? 

We understand that students borrowing papers may face deadline clashes.  If your paper has a fixed deadline that falls in an MMLL paper ‘tranche’, you may simply submit one of your MMLL papers for the following tranche deadline. For HML Ia and Ib students, if one History paper falls in the MMLL ‘language tranche’, we would still expect you to complete your language papers for the same tranche (given that you have fewer language papers than MMLL students). If two or more History papers fall in the languages tranche, you may submit your language papers for the following tranche, but please inform your Director of Studies and if this is the case. For ‘borrowed’ TAL papers (from MML/HML), these are not set at specific times, so you simply treat a TAL paper as one of your scheduled papers, e.g. to be handed in for the second or third tranches, after the language paper tranche. If you have any clashes that can't be resolved this way please inform your Director of Studies AND e-mail


Will the marking criteria change? if the criteria are to remain the same and they are not expecting work of a higher quality. In practice, do you think that the examiners bearing in mind the circumstances will change the criteria, at least unofficially, by which they mark, eg. giving less weighting to vocab in translations/language commentaries?

Marking criteria for scheduled papers will not be changed.

For translation papers such as A2, B2, B3 and C1, however, the marking criteria have been changed (as of 16 December 2020). Papers such as A1 and B1 have not been changed nor have marking criteria for other papers (such as SP6 or GR3, for instance), which may have translation elements. Please refer to emails from paper convenors regarding updates on rubrics for these exams.

Translation passages have a translation commentary appended (commenting in English on your translation choices for up to five words or phrases). The extra commentary is designed to give the examiners more evidence as to the active translation decisions being taken by candidates, so this will inevitably affect the way the examiners fit the work to the existing criteria. For all exams, examiners will be aware of the altered circumstances of this examination round.


How will the SP6 written exam work since it is a combination of a Catalan language and literature?

Please refer to emails from paper convenors regarding changes to rubrics. Given the move from three required questions to two, exam formats may be different for Tripos 2021 than they were for Tripos 2019 and earlier.


With regards to grading will the safety net for finalists be based entirely on part Ib? if this is indeed the case, does this then mean that the results achieved in the YAP, oral and dissertation (for those that chose this option) which have all already been completed will not affect this safety net?

The ‘safety net’ is a blanket policy for Part II MML and HML, and relies entirely on the class awarded at Part Ib. The marks for the YAP, Optional Oral C and Optional Dissertation (where taken) are part of the overall result at Part II and therefore do not affect the no detriment clause (‘safety net’).


Will marks be published, as classes normally are, and if so, will there be an opportunity to opt-out of this?

All marks will be made available on CamSIS as usual. Classes will be published and the usual rules for opting out will apply.


How will candidates for Catalan/Portuguese be selected for next year without language assessment, as it is my understanding that not everyone is granted these papers? 

Where there is a paper cap in place, the students admitted onto the course are normally selected by lottery.


I have a question about the Long Essays for Part Ib as the plan sent to us states that "Long Essays will be submitted and examined as usual".  Could you please let us know whether this includes the same referencing regulations as would be expected usually, i.e.: specific page numbers must be included? I am asking this because, like many other students using library books, I do not have all the books physically with me at home 

We completely understand. In the circumstances, examiners will not expect full referencing. A simple footnote on first citation indicating that a non-paginated e-book was used, or that citations are from notes, will suffice.

As a mitigation effort in Tripos 2021, only the higher of the two scores given for the Long Essay will be used to calculate the final mark for the paper in question.


Can I quote from a translation of a main text, if I don’t have the original text available?

Quotation from the original text is preferred wherever possible, and may be easier in the take-home assessment format, but if only a translation is available, that will not be penalised. A simple footnote on first citation indicating ‘original text not available’ should be included.


Will there be an option to complete work at a later date if sick or suffering from health problems?

On a case-by-case basis, we will relax internal tranche deadlines for tranches 1, 2 and 3, for people who are suffering from health problems, up to a final deadline of 15th June. Beyond that date, an application would need to be made by your College in the usual way.


How will deadlines work for those granted extra time and adjustments?

The University is stating that Take-Home exams have built-in extra time, as you are not expected to spend more time answering than you would in a timed examination, yet you are given several days to write your answers. However, in cases of illness, caring duties or other mitigations, we can be flexible as stated above.


Will papers we are borrowing from faculties who are classing students appear on our transcripts?

Other Faculties will pass their marks to MMLL, and then those marks will be treated in the same way as any mark for a paper within MMLL for your Tripos part.


How do the departments expect us to prepare for these exams in the coming weeks?

You will have revision supervisions for your papers as normal (these may be online depending on Government and University announcements). Language classes, lectures and revision seminars, where these are offered in the Easter Term, will continue online. We encourage students to revise broadly in order to achieve the best learning outcome possible.


When as outlined it is possible to write one 3000 word essay for a scheduled paper or two 1500 word essays in Part II, does this include commentary sections in say CS1 and IT10 and a data question in linguistics, or in this case must the format be an answer for the commentary / data section plus a 1500 word essay (I gather that overall only 2 questions will be answered as opposed to the standard 3)?

Commentaries will normally not be available for the 3,000-word essay option. Nevertheless, students should refer to correspondence with paper convenors regarding format changes to their papers this year.


Will the longer single essay in Part II be a comparative answer, requiring students to refer to at least 3 texts they have studied?  i.e., in order for it to be in some way a fair comparison to those students who chose the 3 essays (or 2 essays and a commentary) option? 

Whilst Faculty norms tend to dictate comparative answers in scheduled papers, it will be necessary this year for students to refer to email correspondence from their paper convenors to clarify doubts regarding rubric changes. We aim to produce a document outlining the main rubric changes at the beginning of Easter Term.


For scheduled papers will we be required to submit bibliographies and will our referencing be taken into account in our marks, as it is in coursework, and will these be included in the word count?

We do not require or expect bibliographies or footnotes, as you are not expected to write more in quantity or quality than you would have written in a timed examination, and we expect essays to be examination-style. If references/bibliography are included, they do not form part of the word count, but they will also be ignored and not taken into account by examiners.


SL13 is a scheduled third language paper: the exam usually comprises a 1-hour translation task and 2x1-hour essays. Will the faculty adapt this format for online assessment? Or will we write the standard 1x3,000 word essay as requested of fourth years for other scheduled papers? How does this work with the fact that second years also take this paper and they have different arrangements this year?

These details are currently being worked out on a per-paper basis for those papers that do not conform to the three-essay model. However, where the 3,000-word option is available on  some Part II papers, and if you answer the 3,000-word option, you will have answered the entire paper.

For second-year students, the single-essay option is not available in Tripos 2021. Second-year student will need to answer two questions instead of three this year, and paper convenors should be in touch regarding rubric changes.


How does the Faculty intend to prevent candidates from simply writing their commentary about the machine’s translation with a few of their own innovations?

Use of machine translation or published translations will be checked for via Turnitin and treated as plagiarism. The intention of the commentary is precisely to allow for candidates to demonstrate that they are thinking actively about translation choices.


Will we have to cite and create a bibliography like we have to do in supervision essays, or will the form of referring to people/theories we use in exams?

You are not expected or required to use full citations and bibliography. Like in any exam, you are expected to acknowledge ideas that are not your own, and to do so a simple parenthetical reference of the type you suggest is perfectly adequate. Page numbers are not required. Any bibliography added will be ignored by examiners.


How and when will we receive results?

For all Parts, we will adhere to the University’s timetable for publishing results. Results will be published on CamSIS.


Are the weightings of our dissertation and papers changing at all, or are they staying the same?

The weightings remain exactly the same as in the original schema for Parts Ia and Ib MML/HML. In Part II MML/HML, however, given the optional nature of the oral exam this year, C1 and C2 will be weighted as 70% of a paper each.


Will there be higher expectations since we have days rather than hours to write, for example more reading, theories, complex examples etc?

We do not expect you to write work of a higher quality or quantity than you would have done in a timed examination.


Given the Safety Net at Part II MML/HML, a proportion of the year are already guaranteed to graduate with a first (on the condition that they pass their exams). Does the Faculty have a limit to how many firsts it can award in one cohort? For instance, will those who didn't achieve a first in second year but are aiming for one in Part II have fewer chances of obtaining one now? Will this be reflected in harsher marking?

No. The Faculty awards Firsts by absolute achievement, not by number in cohort already achieving a First. To gain a First (if you did not gain one at Part Ib MML/HML), you need to achieve an average of 70% at Part II, with some exceptions for borderline performance and Cohort Equity adjustments, or by majority of papers in the higher class in specific circumstances.



Can I hand write my essay?

Answer: Students should word-process essays unless there is a specific requirement or option for the paper/language in question to answer using hand-writing (e.g. in the case of papers requiring extensive use of IPA or Cyrilic script). You should seek advice from the paper co-ordinator as to whether hand-writing  is an option or is required. For hand-written answers, you will need to scan them legibly (e.g. using a mobile phone app). For a paper where a few exercises require hand-writing, these can be scanned, and inserted into a Word document where appropriate.