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Is it harder to get the grades at Oxbridge? watch

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    (Original post by ASNaC)
    I gather that in Maths and Physics it really is the case that at Oxbridge you cover much more content at a higher level than other universities (though as an arts student I cannot really judge this). Within the arts the line of how much tougher is obviously blurred. It is unfair to really equate grades with other universities, but I still think it would be tougher to get a first - both in terms of workload and in terms of the quality of work - in Oxbridge. How could it not be given the heavier work load and much more selective admissions process?

    I agree. What I meant is that one can't say that a 2.1 at Oxbridge is equal to a 1st at, say, Sussex if only for the fact that a 2:1 is 60 to 69% but a 1st is 70 to 100%, its a three times larger boundary.

    Additionally, the heavy exam focus is another reason why its hard to compare. My course requires 3 answers out of a possible 12 in each of 7 three hour exams. We wrote 8 essays for each exam over two years. I couldn't possible revise all 8 in the time I had, therefore I may well have only been taught 4 of them - for the purposes of grades I could have got the same result as someone who had fully revised all 8. My point being that the result you get isn't necessarily linked to ability at all. Thus to say a 2.1 is better than a 2.1 somewhere else says nothing because each individual is very different. I suppose what I am saying is exams tell you very little about ability in the first place so you are comparing two things that, ultimately, are poor measures of assement in and of themselves anyway.
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    (Original post by ASNaC)
    I gather that in Maths and Physics it really is the case that at Oxbridge you cover much more content at a higher level than other universities (though as an arts student I cannot really judge this). Within the arts the line of how much tougher is obviously blurred. It is unfair to really equate grades with other universities, but I still think it would be tougher to get a first - both in terms of workload and in terms of the quality of work - in Oxbridge. How could it not be given the heavier work load and much more selective admissions process?
    Hmm, yes - apparently we covered the same amount of material in my first year chemistry course as someone doing a straight chemistry degree would in their first year. Given that chemistry was a quarter of my course last year this gives an idea of the workload...
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    I think the modular systems that most unis use simplifies exams a bit.
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    (Original post by MadNatSci)
    Hmm, yes - apparently we covered the same amount of material in my first year chemistry course as someone doing a straight chemistry degree would in their first year. Given that chemistry was a quarter of my course last year this gives an idea of the workload...
    But you do get to claim a Master's degree for three years' work.
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    (Original post by Squishy)
    But you do get to claim a Master's degree for three years' work.
    Yes, but many employers do not count Oxbridge MAs as master's degrees as they are considered 'unearned'. Even though your BA is tougher than a standard BA, you should not expect that your MA will be universally accepted as a proper master's.
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    (Original post by ASNaC)
    Yes, but many employers do not count Oxbridge MAs as master's degrees as they are considered 'unearned'. Even though your BA is tougher than a standard BA, you should not expect that your MA will be universally accepted as a proper master's.
    It kind of gets absorbed into the general status of an Oxford degree, but it can help if you want to go on straight to do a Phd.
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    (Original post by Catt)
    It kind of gets absorbed into the general status of an Oxford degree, but it can help if you want to go on straight to do a Phd.
    Depends on the department. In mine they require an MPhil if you want to do a PhD, so the MA really doesn't count for anything.
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    (Original post by Squishy)
    But you do get to claim a Master's degree for three years' work.
    that sounds interesting
    is there any criteria for it? a first or 2:1?
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    MAs! LOL
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    (Original post by keisiuho)
    that sounds interesting
    is there any criteria for it? a first or 2:1?
    you've just got to pass your Ba.
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    (Original post by ASNaC)
    Depends on the department. In mine they require an MPhil if you want to do a PhD, so the MA really doesn't count for anything.
    hence my use of the word 'can'
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    (Original post by ASNaC)
    Yes, but many employers do not count Oxbridge MAs as master's degrees as they are considered 'unearned'. Even though your BA is tougher than a standard BA, you should not expect that your MA will be universally accepted as a proper master's.
    I know...if I get a BA, I wouldn't want to upgrade it to a Master's, cheap as it may be...I don't really agree with the principle.
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    (Original post by MadNatSci)
    Hmm, yes - apparently we covered the same amount of material in my first year chemistry course as someone doing a straight chemistry degree would in their first year. Given that chemistry was a quarter of my course last year this gives an idea of the workload...
    I'm sorry but i find that very hard to believe! I really dont think that you will have covered as much chemistry in the first year as someone doing a straight chemistry degree at a good university with a strong dept. (like York or Bath or somewhere). I can accept that you are probably working very hard, harder than someone on a chemistry course at York, but given the ultra short terms at Cam compared to other unis (which, I suspect, is the mainreason for the huge work pressure), together with the fact that a straight degree in chemistry is hardly a walk in the park at any top uni, I just do not think there are enough total hours in your academic year for you actually to be covering as much work in 1/4 of your course as said student! :eek:
    Where did you get this "fact" from? Would it be from your Cambridge tutors by any chance?
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    (Original post by smaug)
    I'm sorry but i find that very hard to believe! I really dont think that you will have covered as much chemistry in the first year as someone doing a straight chemistry degree at a good university with a strong dept. (like York or Bath or somewhere). I can accept that you are probably working very hard, harder than someone on a chemistry course at York, but given the ultra short terms at Cam compared to other unis (which, I suspect, is the mainreason for the huge work pressure), together with the fact that a straight degree in chemistry is hardly a walk in the park at any top uni, I just do not think there are enough total hours in your academic year for you actually to be covering as much work in 1/4 of your course as said student! :eek:
    Where did you get this "fact" from? Would it be from your Cambridge tutors by any chance?

    Well, I have heard from someone else that a first year at Oxbridge has basically done the same amount of work as someone graduating from another university. I'm not sure of the validity of this, but some people would consider the source to be something of an expert (he has, among other things, written a book entitled "How to get into Oxford and Cambridge" - make of that what you will.)
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    (Original post by Squishy)
    I know...if I get a BA, I wouldn't want to upgrade it to a Master's, cheap as it may be...I don't really agree with the principle.
    But it sounds better, at least for those who don't know much about this system, doesn't it?

    BTW, for the maths course in Oxford, a BA degree is awarded for 3 years and a MMath for 4 years. So is it possible to upgrade the BA degree? If so, what can a MMath be upgraded to?
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    (Original post by keisiuho)
    But it sounds better, at least for those who don't know much about this system, doesn't it?

    BTW, for the maths course in Oxford, a BA degree is awarded for 3 years and a MMath for 4 years. So is it possible to upgrade the BA degree? If so, what can a MMath be upgraded to?
    The people who are unaware of the system are not important, to be frank it doesn't matter what they think. Graduate schools, the major employers are well aware.

    As for standards, I can only go from my set of limited experiences, as well a discussion I've had on this topic with someone who has lectured to postgraduate students at the LSE for many years. As a masters student at the LSE, I was in regular contact with students from a fairly diverse range of universities, many of whom were from Oxbridge. Overall, and this is particularly the case for those who had managed a first from Oxbridge, the students were fairly dominant in seminar discussions and even in the formal assessments. At the LSE masters level the proportion of people being given the top grade (i.e. a distinction) is generally quite low, perhaps lower than that of many institutions handing out a first at undergraduate level. I didn't see any huge Oxbridge dominance in the 'distinction' grouping, but overall I think very many of the Oxbridge people were at least working somewhere near that level. For most of the former Oxbridge students a merit was pretty much assured. Students from other universities perhaps tended to struggle a little more, with very many from fairly well respected institutions (Bham, Manchester and the like) who would be whining that the standard of the course was considerably higher. The former Oxbridge students had far too much self-respect to be doing that, they seemed more ambitious, and also had greater confidence in their approach.

    I think a good degree from the 'upper cohort' of universities does still hold its value, and is at least comparable to the Oxbridge standard for quality, if not always for quantity. However, I do believe it's clear cut that undergraduate degrees from the former polys are of a substantially lower standard. I know of quite a few, who with first class degrees struggled to even pass the masters degrees they were on. Of course this could be a sheer coincidence, but I really don't think so. Almost everyone I know of who ended up with an overall distinction, or at least a good merit with a distinction on their thesis came from well-respected universities, perhaps with a slight Oxbridge bias. A first class degree from the former polys just isn't the same, even from very many other universities above them, it's terribly dumbed down to the point that it’s quite simply not a comparable qualification. Incidentally, I've been discussing the social sciences.
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    (Original post by keisiuho)
    But it sounds better, at least for those who don't know much about this system, doesn't it?

    BTW, for the maths course in Oxford, a BA degree is awarded for 3 years and a MMath for 4 years. So is it possible to upgrade the BA degree? If so, what can a MMath be upgraded to?
    It is only a option to stay on the the fourth year in math, and then they are awarded a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics, which is generally considered the equivalent of a master's in maths (it in done in preparation for embarking on a PhD). There is no requirement to stay on past your BA, and many new students come in to do Part III maths. Students may still upgrade their BA in maths to an MA after three years, but there isn't much point once they have the Certificate of Advanced Study, which means much more.
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    (Original post by smaug)
    I'm sorry but i find that very hard to believe! I really dont think that you will have covered as much chemistry in the first year as someone doing a straight chemistry degree at a good university with a strong dept. (like York or Bath or somewhere). I can accept that you are probably working very hard, harder than someone on a chemistry course at York, but given the ultra short terms at Cam compared to other unis (which, I suspect, is the mainreason for the huge work pressure), together with the fact that a straight degree in chemistry is hardly a walk in the park at any top uni, I just do not think there are enough total hours in your academic year for you actually to be covering as much work in 1/4 of your course as said student! :eek:
    Where did you get this "fact" from? Would it be from your Cambridge tutors by any chance?
    Well, the chemistry in particular I don't have any back up for unfortunately, hence the 'apparently', but I'd like to believe it cos it makes me feel better about not doing particularly well To use another subject though - CompSci... A friend of mine here was told to study a textbook in four weeks. She has contact with someone doing a computer science course elsewhere and they took at least a term over it (it might even have been the whole year, but I'm not making wild assertions like that when the conversation was in the middle of exams and I can't be sure!), with considerably more contact time...

    I don't think it can be denied that the workload is heaver at Ox and Cam than elsewhere. The eight week terms do play a part, of course. But you could say it's a good thing. I'd imagine we'll graduate with considerably better time-management, at least, than a lot of other students. Don't know if the degrees themselves are actually HARDER though - you'd expect the standard for a degree to be the same anywhere surely? Although that's possibly an optimistic view...
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    (Original post by BazTheMoney)
    if you can get a 2i at Oxbridge you could get a 2i at pretty much every other university, though.
    If you can get a 2i at Oxbridge you could get a 1st at pretty much every other university.
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    (Original post by Jools)
    If you can get a 2i at Oxbridge you could get a 1st at pretty much every other university.
    Hmmm. I know some Economists who wouldn't be able to get a First at LSE, but then that's more down to the the strudture of the university/course than the complexity of the work.
 
 
 

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