Preliminary Examination in Biomedical Sciences

Differences from 2022/23 to 2023/24


  • 1. The Preliminary Examination in Biomedical Sciences shall consist of five written papers:

    • (1) Multiple choice questions (computer-based assessment)

    • (2A) Body and Cells (essay questions)

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

    • (2C) Brain and Behaviour (essay questions)

    • (3) Introduction to 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 papers.

  • 3. Candidates must offer all five papers at their first examination attempt.

  • 4. A candidate who fails one or two of the five papers 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 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 five papers at their first examination attempt.


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 letter sent to all candidates by the ChairmanChair of Moderators will specify in which papers the use of calculators is permitted, and which calculators candidates will be permitted to use.

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 candidate’s 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.