Basically, I just found out my MA results and I didn't get a distinction, I'm going to try and explain why I feel hard-done-by whilst being deliberately vague because I don't want to be identifiable.
Basically 9/11 of my coursework grades are distinctions (all over 77, 5 of these between 85-90), I do a social science course at a Russell Group University. 1 of these was my first essay which I got 67 for, another at the beginning of my 'troubles' - also 67.
Basically I suffer from OCD which can at times be very debilitating, I kept it under control over most of the year, but anxiety from external sources from Juneish made it very difficult for me to cope.
As a result my MA diss was a bit pants! I got 65 and was advised by the graduate tutor and my sup to put in an Extenuating Circumstances for with a Drs letter which I did.
Basically, my Uni have registered the form (which basically means they believe you that it had a significant impact on your work) but my Dept have told me there's nothing they can do to give me a distinction as the University has a clause which says you must get 70 on your dissertation to get one overall. This seems so inflexible, given my circumstances, as it discriminates against students with problems in the latter part of the year. Nearly everyone awarded a distinction has a lower average than me despite my dissertation flunk and I can't help feeling like the extenuating circumstances form was a worthless exercise.
I'm thinking of writing to the head of my faculty, does this sound a good idea, or will I just rile more people?
I think you should write to the head of faculty. Yes, you might have forgotten about it in 20 years time, but at the moment it is obviously causing you a lot of annoyance and distress. Plus you will be helping students in the future if you raise the issue now. It might be simply that the university administration has never had a case like yours before and has not considered the fact that people with problems at the end of the course are disadvantaged by the current system. It might be that they have a poor understanding of mental health problems and need more awareness of your condition. IMHO if you write the letter you might bring about a change for the better and you won't spend the next few years thinking "what if".
Just word your letter carefully. I suspect you need to do this for some sense of closure if nothing else. I don't think it's likely they will overturn policy right away but you never know.
There is a general problem with this type of marking system and in my dept they have got around it by doing away with 'distinctions' altogether and letting people figure out the marks for themselves. I suppose you are worried about funding for a PhD since social sciences usually require a distinction. But your marks and references will be part of that application process so it should come out in the wash.
I neglected to mention, I already have AHRC funding.
I love my department, and University, and would want to get this across.
I think the problem is, mine is a 'once in a blue moon' position, therefore I very much doubt it is a scenario that has even been considered.
Whether they'll 'overturn policy' feels like a moot point, I just want to be sure that this doesn't happen to others in future more than anything. I'm also slightly perturbed by the fact that my sup has said that he'll make sure my performance is noted in references, which is great, but that this might necessitate mention of my having mental health issues!
Extenuating circumstances can only make a certain amount of difference to an overall grade. Presumably you've got academic feedback on all your pieces of written work, on why you got those grades? You've got the MA, so unless the actual grade is going to make a huge difference to whatever you want to do next, is it really worth pursuing this any further? The whole process isn't going to be exactly stress-free.
Rubyw, it wasn't a case of 'making up', the issue was that the University regulations (apparently) permit no 'making up' with respect to the dissertation component, which seems somewhat arbitrary when the department is given no regulations about how much they can 'make up' other scores.
Therefore, even if i'd have got 69, there would have been nothing my department could do. :(
That is such a pain, I'm really sorry about that - it is very difficult and does cause problems if something does happen at the end of the year. I had a sudden death (suspicious at first) with a very close family member just a few weeks before submission and was also ill, not to mention the stress of the AHRC! (that was hell wasn't it!) and I'm well aware that it could have caused big problems for my MA which I won't hear about until week 11 of term. Like you, the fact that I have good marks in other parts of my coursework means nothing in the grand scheme of things - to get a distinction I need a distinction in the dissertation. Personally I didn't bother putting in an extenuating circumstances form - I was very ill for my exams in the 2nd year of the BA and put one in - it made no difference - I did ok, but in my uni they will only change your grade if you are within 2 marks of the next classification if extenuating circumstances are accepted - I got a 67 in one major exam - too far out to be shifted up to the first and I'm guessing that this is the situation with you.
I complained, they did nothing, they explained that to change it for one means changing it for everyone and then, well, the whole system could collapse.
I do feel for you though - but you have an MA - with Merit I'm guessing - congratulations, that's one hell of an achievement. Lets face it, apart from us academic sorts most people don't even realise that there is classification for MAs and until very recently there wasn't - its an MA - be extremely proud of yourself - you've done amazingly well (up)
I understand the problem, and me being a person who is a lot like Hermione Granger of Harry Potter, I really *do* understand it :)
But unless its a condition for Phd acceptance in ur uni (which I dont think it is ) is there really a need to give it such importance? A high merit is very good, and clearly I dont think its gonna change your life. Maybe you should move on!
Hi - I didn't get a distinction either on my MA! On the course details sent to me, it stated that the final result was based solely on the dissertation - I got a distinction in the dissertation but those details were out of date - it was also based on the results of the modules which brought down my average :-s I had a pretty tough time during 2 modules - in one I had a serious accident which resulted in me becoming partially disabled and in another my flat mate died. For both these modules I just passed but I didn't ask the uni to take it into consideration because I thought it wouldn't make a difference to the final mark :-s In the end, it seemed to be more hassle to contest it - and I had already been through the same dilemma because I missed out on getting a first at degree level by 1% ! Don't know why I'm telling you this really! But I agree with the other poster - if you already have funding then it won't make any difference further on down the line no matter how disappointing it is now.
pamplemousse....well done (up). i missed out a distinction by about 2% four years ago. i finished my master of science last year with a merit (up)
but hey! im pleased...i tell myself well done... im a single parent and have done this all by myself. i start my PhD in a couple of weeks. im self funding...i will stick it out, muddle through it, cry through it, laugh through it (i hope) and i will get my doctorate and i will say to myself..well done..havnt u achieved so much!
so pamplemousse....well done...big pat on the back....arn't u clever? arn't we all :-) (up)
gosh! i wish i'd got the distinctions...but gosh! im so so very proud of what i have got..
good luck xxxx
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