Preliminary Examination in Biomedical Sciences

Differences from 2014/15 to 2022/23


  • 1. The subjects of the Preliminary Examination in Biomedical Sciences shall beconsist of five written papers:

    • (1) Body,Multiple Brainchoice andquestions Behaviour:(computer-based Papers 1A and 1Bassessment)

    • (22A) Body and Cells, (essay questions)

    • (2B) Genes and Molecules and(essay Genes:questions)

    • (2C) Papers 2ABrain and 2BBehaviour (essay questions)

    • (3) Introduction Mathematicsto Probability Theory and Statistics   (as specified for the Preliminary Examination in Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics) 

  • 2. Candidates shall be deemed to have passed the examination if they satisfy the Moderators in all five three subjectspapers.

  • 3. Candidates must offer all threefive subjectspapers at their first examination attempt.

  • 4. A candidate who fails one or two of the five papers comprising subjects 1-3 will be permitted one further attempt at the failed paper or papers, at the first available opportunity.

  • 5. A candidate who fails three or more of the five papers comprising subjects 1-3  shall be deemed to have failed the examination. He or she will be permitted one further attempt at the whole examination, at the first available opportunity.

  • 6. The Moderators may award a Distinction to candidates of special merit who satisfy them in all threefive subjectspapers at their first examination attempt.


For each of subjects 1 and 2, two written papers will be set, each of one hour and thirty minutes’ duration. For subject 3, one written paper of two hours’ duration will be set .

The Moderators will permit the use of hand-held pocket calculators subject to the conditions set out under the heading Use of calculators in the Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations.  The Aletter listsent ofto recommendedall calculators will be providedcandidates by the Chairman of the Moderators notwill laterspecify thanin which papers the Wednesday of the fourth week of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding the examination. The use of calculators mayis notpermitted, and which calculators candidates will be permitted into certain papersuse. 

All candidates shall be assessed as to their practical ability in coursework under the following provisions:

  • (a) The Course Director, or a deputy, shall make available to the Moderators, at the end of the fifth week of the term in which the examinations are held, records showing the extent and the standard to which each candidate has completed the prescribed coursework. The Moderators may request practical notebooks from any candidate; such candidates will be named in a list posted in the foyer of the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre one week before the day of the first written paper. Each notebook submitted shall be accompanied by a statement signed by the candidate indicating that the notebook is the candidates own work.

    (b) Failure to complete the coursework to the satisfaction of the Moderators, in the absence of appropriate extenuating documentary evidence, will normally result in the candidate being required by the Moderators to submit to further examination. Failure of that examination will normally constitute failure of the Preliminary Examination. Coursework cannot normally be re-taken.


  • 1. Body, Brain and Behaviour

    • a. Body: cardiovascular; respiratory; renal and gastrointestinal systems

    • b. Brain: introduction to neuroscience; neuroanatomy overview; sensory; motor; neural development; learning and memory; sleep, dreams, and consciousness

    • c. Behaviour: memory; language; awareness and attention; decision-making and rationality; disorders; social; genetics of diseases

  • 2. Cells, Molecules and Genes

    • a. Cells: cell division and cell cycle; inter- and intra-cellular signalling; excitable tissues; membrane transport; general principles of pharmacology

    • b. Molecules: DNA/RNA structure; protein structure; lipids and membrane structure; energy metabolism

    • c. Genes: fundamentals of genes; molecular biology techniques

  • 3. Mathematics and Statistics