Studies at Medieval Oxford and Cambridge Universities was based around what was studied at Paris University. Many tutors and students had attended Paris University and it was only natural that the subjects studied there and the teaching techniques would be copied. As an example, Paris held what was known as a Lenten Determination.
This was part of the exam process for a Batchelor of Arts and finished when either the chancellor or president of the university summed up or determined the academic knowledge of the students he had seen – hence why it became known as the Determination. As the process was held during Lent, it became the Lenten Determination.
Just two years after Paris had set up this system, Oxford brought in its own determination. However, there does not seem to have been any ‘proper’ exams at Oxford for a degree during Medieval times. A student would be presented before his college chancellor and would then have to swear on oath that he had read certain books on his subject and then nine tutors had to testify on each student’s ability within his subject. The student would then have to argue on an academic subject before a Master of Arts – usually an Augustinian monk, thus giving the process its nickname ‘doing Austins’. As far as it is known, there were no regular board of examiners at Oxford.
The basic teaching at Oxford and Cambridge was that of the seven liberal arts. This was divided into the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric and logic) and the quadrivium (mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy). The primary book, written in the 5th Century, that was studied for these subjects was by Martinus Capaella.
At Oxford, a BA consisted of four years of study; a MA in Medicine required six years study; a MA for civil law took four years of study and a Batchelor of Decrees for Canon Law required five years of study. The religious slant of most of the teaching meant that many students, once they had gained their degree, went into holy orders or