Is a PhD possible with Undergraduate Distinction and an upper 2:2 for Masters?

posted
27-Nov-17, 14:46
Avatar for barnj083
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi All,

A few days ago I just received my final marks for both my master's degree and dissertation. Prior to the start of my dissertation I had a merit and was on track to finish with a 2:1 for Masters. However, I was incredibly devastated to find that I did not do as well as expected on my dissertation and as a result, not only lost my merit, but finished my Masters degree just 1% shy of a merit. I feel lost, confused, devastated and unsure what to do at this time.

What I have done is emailed my supervisor to request for feedback on my dissertation so I can see what I did wrong and what I can improve upon the next time (assuming there is a next time). Prior to the results of my dissertation I have been networking like crazy throughout the UK, attending PhD study fairs, networking with graduate students and universities so that I can work on the PhD application. Now because of my dissertation results and final Master's mark, I don't know if this is the end of the road with me. I had to apply to attend for a PhD funding fair here in London and submitted my undergraduate transcript as part of application process (which I completely understand and agree with given that funding is involved and it is extremely competitive). Now I don't even feel worthy of attending because of my final Master's mark.

With that said, is it still possible to be considered for funding opportunities for PhD despite my final Master's mark, or is this the end of the road for me? Also, should I even attend the PhD funding fair now despite being accepted and receiving my invitation already? I worked so incredibly hard on this dissertation and based on the feedback my supervisor gave me I was slowly gaining confidence thinking I was going to do well. Then I get my results and feel like i've been hit by a train. Please help me out.

Thank you
posted
29-Nov-17, 09:25
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 weeks ago
I would keep applying for PhDs. You've got a first in your Bachelors right? So it's probably not the end of the world about your Master's grade.
posted
29-Nov-17, 10:21
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From barnj083:
Hi All,

A few days ago I just received my final marks for both my master's degree and dissertation. Prior to the start of my dissertation I had a merit and was on track to finish with a 2:1 for Masters. However, I was incredibly devastated to find that I did not do as well as expected on my dissertation and as a result, not only lost my merit, but finished my Masters degree just 1% shy of a merit. I feel lost, confused, devastated and unsure what to do at this time.

What I have done is emailed my supervisor to request for feedback on my dissertation so I can see what I did wrong and what I can improve upon the next time (assuming there is a next time). Prior to the results of my dissertation I have been networking like crazy throughout the UK, attending PhD study fairs, networking with graduate students and universities so that I can work on the PhD application. Now because of my dissertation results and final Master's mark, I don't know if this is the end of the road with me. I had to apply to attend for a PhD funding fair here in London and submitted my undergraduate transcript as part of application process (which I completely understand and agree with given that funding is involved and it is extremely competitive). Now I don't even feel worthy of attending because of my final Master's mark.

With that said, is it still possible to be considered for funding opportunities for PhD despite my final Master's mark, or is this the end of the road for me? Also, should I even attend the PhD funding fair now despite being accepted and receiving my invitation already? I worked so incredibly hard on this dissertation and based on the feedback my supervisor gave me I was slowly gaining confidence thinking I was going to do well. Then I get my results and feel like i've been hit by a train. Please help me out.

Thank you


To be honest, I would forget about the Masters. Even if you had achieved the 2:1 your transcript would have made it clear that you had difficulties. A distinction at Honours however suggests you have a reasonable chance of finding a PhD. I would not give up until you had at least tried every avenue. It ishould concern you that you are using phrases like "dont feel worthy". A PhD will bring that feeling out in full technicolour. Be sure you have the resilience to deal with things going wrong before you start. It sounds like you might have an issue in that regard. PhDs can break even the strongest of people.
posted
30-Nov-17, 15:01
Avatar for beancounter
posted about 2 weeks ago
Apologies for hi-jacking this thread slightly. If your masters grade is depressed from having too many late submission penalties do you think that a university would consider the fact that you scored better in the assignments than your degree classification indicates? I'm wanting to do a self funded Phd but might find myself in the position of only getting a "pass" at masters level for that reason. My work/life balance will improve so I should be better able to meet deadlines going forwards.
posted
30-Nov-17, 15:42
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for chaotic1328
posted about 2 weeks ago
I am slightly confused by the terminology used here. You use 'Distinction' for your undergrad degree, and '2:2' for your Masters classifications. Are we talking about a Scottish MA? If not, do you mean a First with distinction in your undergrad (a very high first), and a merit in your Master's? Or do you mean a Distinction in a non-honours degree (they used to be reasonably common before the proliferation of new universities in 1992)?

If its a First (or Distinction in a non-honours degree) at undergrad+ a high Pass/marginal Merit, then I think funding might be a problem. I think it might be better if its the other way round, ie., a low 2:1 plus a distinction, as they tend to look at your latest round of results, and the higher degree, with more importance.

But if you can find a supervisor willing to take you on and support you for funding, then go for it. Nothing venture, nothing gain. Keep on searching for potential supervisors online and good luck with your quest.
posted
30-Nov-17, 15:49
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for chaotic1328
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From beancounter:
Apologies for hi-jacking this thread slightly. If your masters grade is depressed from having too many late submission penalties do you think that a university would consider the fact that you scored better in the assignments than your degree classification indicates? I'm wanting to do a self funded Phd but might find myself in the position of only getting a "pass" at masters level for that reason. My work/life balance will improve so I should be better able to meet deadlines going forwards.


Think you might have to explain why there were so many late submissions, and why you did not ask for extensions if you had problems affecting your ability to submit work on time.

I've always been advised that a PhD is less about intelligence, but more about self-discipline, drive and time management, as there isn't the structure of a taught degree, and the nature of a PhD is that you are left doing everything more or less by yourself. Given that, they would be more inclined to have doubts about your ability to complete the programme if you had constant problems of late submission in your Master's.
posted
30-Nov-17, 17:02
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for beancounter
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Chaotic. Thanks for the response. I work full time in quite a demanding job at the moment, as well as studying part time. In a year or twos time I envisage being in a position to cut down my hours at work a fair bit.

Edit: is it possible to rescue the situation with a really good dissertation?
posted
30-Nov-17, 17:22
edited about 6 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 weeks ago


Edit: is it possible to rescue the situation with a really good dissertation?


Only if this boosts your grade. Most of what people look at when they review candidates is the CV and cover letter. They tend not to scrutinise transcripts. But then again, I've only seen the final candidate choices when deciding who to invite to interview, so maybe this is done early on in the process, I don't know.
posted
30-Nov-17, 19:46
Avatar for chaotic1328
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From beancounter:
Hi Chaotic. Thanks for the response. I work full time in quite a demanding job at the moment, as well as studying part time. In a year or twos time I envisage being in a position to cut down my hours at work a fair bit.

Edit: is it possible to rescue the situation with a really good dissertation?


Everyone is different, so I can't say why you let work affected your studies so much. But if your work was getting in the way of assignments, you really ought to have requested for extensions. I find that most lecturers tend to be sympathetic to the problems of working students. Maybe you ought to request one for the dissertation, as a very good dissertation will certainly boost your average marks, and may push your final grade to a merit. And of course, a really good dissertation, especially if you can get it to distinction level, will have potential supervisors looking more favourably towards your PhD application, as it is good evidence that you can excel at independent research, which is more or less what a PhD is all about, or so I've been told.

For those wondering about the workload of a social science taught Master's, just want to say that due to a series of unfortunate events, I found myself doing a full time MA last academic year, whilst working 50-60 hours a week, and found it quite manageable. My wife also managed her MA working the same long hours.
posted
01-Dec-17, 01:03
Avatar for barnj083
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
I would keep applying for PhDs. You've got a first in your Bachelors right? So it's probably not the end of the world about your Master's grade.


Sorry I just got your message. That is correct I got a first in my bachelor's degree. I've been asking some of my friends who I went to Uni with and they mentioned that I can go straight from undergraduate to PhD, which was complete news to me. Is this accurate information?
posted
01-Dec-17, 01:06
Avatar for barnj083
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From chaotic1328:
I am slightly confused by the terminology used here. You use 'Distinction' for your undergrad degree, and '2:2' for your Masters classifications. Are we talking about a Scottish MA? If not, do you mean a First with distinction in your undergrad (a very high first), and a merit in your Master's? Or do you mean a Distinction in a non-honours degree (they used to be reasonably common before the proliferation of new universities in 1992)?

If its a First (or Distinction in a non-honours degree) at undergrad+ a high Pass/marginal Merit, then I think funding might be a problem. I think it might be better if its the other way round, ie., a low 2:1 plus a distinction, as they tend to look at your latest round of results, and the higher degree, with more importance.

But if you can find a supervisor willing to take you on and support you for funding, then go for it. Nothing venture, nothing gain. Keep on searching for potential supervisors online and good luck with your quest.


Apologies for the confusing terminology as I obtained my undergraduate degree in the USA, and once my grade point average (which is what they use in USA) was converted over to UK marking scheme, it came out to be above a 70. My final master's mark came out to be a 59, which is a high 2:2.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.
posted
01-Dec-17, 01:13
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for barnj083
posted about 2 weeks ago
Thank you all for your replies and advice. I have been accepted to attend a PhD funding fair here in London, and see if I am able to find anything that could possibly help. I'm just really disappointed with my master's results, but I will still keep applying for a PhD to see if anything comes along.
posted
01-Dec-17, 01:16
Avatar for barnj083
posted about 2 weeks ago


To be honest, I would forget about the Masters. Even if you had achieved the 2:1 your transcript would have made it clear that you had difficulties. A distinction at Honours however suggests you have a reasonable chance of finding a PhD. I would not give up until you had at least tried every avenue. It ishould concern you that you are using phrases like "dont feel worthy". A PhD will bring that feeling out in full technicolour. Be sure you have the resilience to deal with things going wrong before you start. It sounds like you might have an issue in that regard. PhDs can break even the strongest of people.


I am aware of that, as I have been networking with PhD students around the clock. My terminology wasn't clear because I was still dealing with the disappointment of my dissertation and final master's results tbh. I am going to keep going forward and applying for a PhD I have a funding fair to attend within the next couple of weeks so hopefully I will be able to find something that will help there.
posted
01-Dec-17, 09:40
edited about 17 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From barnj083:


Sorry I just got your message. That is correct I got a first in my bachelor's degree. I've been asking some of my friends who I went to Uni with and they mentioned that I can go straight from undergraduate to PhD, which was complete news to me. Is this accurate information?


Yep, you don't need a masters to do a PhD. It does help to make you more competitive though. My supervisors subsequently told me that was one of the reasons they offered me the PhD over others.
posted
01-Dec-17, 14:13
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for barnj083
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Quote From barnj083:


Sorry I just got your message. That is correct I got a first in my bachelor's degree. I've been asking some of my friends who I went to Uni with and they mentioned that I can go straight from undergraduate to PhD, which was complete news to me. Is this accurate information?


Yep, you don't need a masters to do a PhD. It does help to make you more competitive though. My supervisors subsequently told me that was one of the reasons they offered me the PhD over others.


That is awesome. Thank you so much I really greatly appreciate your help with this.

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