External Examiner to remark my MSc thesis.

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yiotis
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Hi guys,

I was until one and a half years ago a student at a university of London and was doing my masters there. Upon completion, I submitted my master's thesis which received a relatively low score of 58% (56% first examiner, 59% second examiner). I appealed against the marking of my first examiner and my appeal was accepted which means that I will have my work remarked by an external examiner.

My question is how likely, do you think, it is for me to jump over the 60% barrier? Also from the experience you have are external examiners easy or hard markers compared to the internal ones?

Thanks
yiotis
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Cora Lindsay
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No way of knowing I think. You aren't much short, so it is worth a go. However, if the external gave a lower mark they would probably discount that so you are unlikely to go down from your current mark.
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yiotis
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Thx, for your answer. They told me that my mark might go down but it could also go up. The question is how likely it is to go up, and if a couple of extra points are enough to get my entire project's mark at 60% or more.
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by yiotis)
Thx, for your answer. They told me that my mark might go down but it could also go up. The question is how likely it is to go up, and if a couple of extra points are enough to get my entire project's mark at 60% or more.
It's a bit unusual for there to be a possibility of the mark going down. I suppose what they are saying is that they will throw away the existing mark and substitute the external's for better or worse, and maybe that is to try and discourage appeals. If 60% really matters to you then it's probably a risk you have to take.

Looking at it, you need to get low 60's from the remark to average 60 or more. Having done a lot of it over the years, my view is that marking isn't accurate to better than +/- 5% so that's certainly possible, especially at postgrad level, where there is often more subjectivity in the assessment. What subject area is this?
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Iorek
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(Original post by yiotis)
Hi guys,

I was until one and a half years ago a student at a university of London and was doing my masters there. Upon completion, I submitted my master's thesis which received a relatively low score of 58% (56% first examiner, 59% second examiner). I appealed against the marking of my first examiner and my appeal was accepted which means that I will have my work remarked by an external examiner.

My question is how likely, do you think, it is for me to jump over the 60% barrier? Also from the experience you have are external examiners easy or hard markers compared to the internal ones?

Thanks
yiotis
It's generally unlikely for the marks to vary by a lot.

It's also highly possible depending on who the external examiners are for the marks to go down, been known to have happened as well. In fact someone from my MBA class recently had her thesis go from 62% to 58% after the external moderation. (She genuinely believed her thesis was a 70% work)

If I'm not wrong, it's not going to be the case that what mark the external moderator gives you that you will get, it will still be averaged out over what the other 2 examiners gave you.
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yiotis
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(Original post by Cora Lindsay)
It's a bit unusual for there to be a possibility of the mark going down. I suppose what they are saying is that they will throw away the existing mark and substitute the external's for better or worse, and maybe that is to try and discourage appeals. If 60% really matters to you then it's probably a risk you have to take.

Looking at it, you need to get low 60's from the remark to average 60 or more. Having done a lot of it over the years, my view is that marking isn't accurate to better than +/- 5% so that's certainly possible, especially at postgrad level, where there is often more subjectivity in the assessment. What subject area is this?
Thx for the answers. The area is Management Science / Operational Research. The project was about using simulation to evaluate different methods for preventing and fighting a specific, very common disease - basically an NHS project.
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yiotis
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(Original post by Iorek)
It's generally unlikely for the marks to vary by a lot.
If I'm not wrong, it's not going to be the case that what mark the external moderator gives you that you will get, it will still be averaged out over what the other 2 examiners gave you.
Yes I know that. But given that my valid mark is 59%, if I get 61% or more from the external examiner, I will have an average of 60% or more for the entire project.
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yiotis
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As I am still waiting for the result of the remark, and getting anxious in the meantime, I would like to ask if any of you have had a similar remark in the past and what was the outcome???
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evantej
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(Original post by yiotis)
As I am still waiting for the result of the remark, and getting anxious in the meantime, I would like to ask if any of you have had a similar remark in the past and what was the outcome???
While it was for an undergraduate essay rather than a graduate dissertation, my mark went from 49 (and they were considering failing it outright) to 64 after external examination. Of course, this is not particularly useful because the dynamic was completely different; the lecturers showed the moderator my other work (all my work was moderated because I was top of the class in other units), and it was obvious that there was a basic misunderstanding at some point. At graduate level this is not possible: you have one-off assessments and there is no real relationship between (most) masters students and academics.

As hard as you find it, I would try not to worry too much about it and just focus on something else in the meantime.
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hobnob
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(Original post by evantej)
While it was for an undergraduate essay rather than a graduate dissertation, my mark went from 49 (and they were considering failing it outright) to 64 after external examination. Of course, this is not particularly useful because the dynamic was completely different; the lecturers showed the moderator my other work (all my work was moderated because I was top of the class in other units), and it was obvious that there was a basic misunderstanding at some point. At graduate level this is not possible: you have one-off assessments and there is no real relationship between (most) masters students and academic students.

As hard as you find it, I would try not to worry too much about it and just focus on something else in the meantime.
Are you sure that's what you meant to say?

Edit: As for the original question: it's hard to say, and it depends on the actual quality of the thesis as well as on the external markers. They'll know it was a grade dispute, so they'll probably be specifically looking for signs of whether it is or isn't of 2.i standard. It isn't like A-level remarks, though, where markers seem to be expected to mark people up. If they're not convinced it's a 2.i they won't give you one.
For what it's worth, I think you may have had a stronger case if at least one of the markers had actually given you a 2.i. Those aren't real percentages, so 59 isn't really just one mark off a 2.i. As far as I know, most tutors don't even use the full scale, they just use one mark for borderline / low 2.iis, one for middling 2.iis, one for high 2.iis and so on, and one person's 59 may well be another person's 57, so that in itself doesn't really tell you how close you were, unfortunately.
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evantej
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(Original post by hobnob)
Are you sure that's what you meant to say? [...]
Early-morning posts defeat me.
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yiotis
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(Original post by evantej)
While it was for an undergraduate essay rather than a graduate dissertation, my mark went from 49 (and they were considering failing it outright) to 64 after external examination. Of course, this is not particularly useful because the dynamic was completely different; the lecturers showed the moderator my other work (all my work was moderated because I was top of the class in other units), and it was obvious that there was a basic misunderstanding at some point. At graduate level this is not possible: you have one-off assessments and there is no real relationship between (most) masters students and academics.

As hard as you find it, I would try not to worry too much about it and just focus on something else in the meantime.
Thanks for your answer. It is really encouraging to know that a thesis can potentially go this high up. You are right that the circumstances are different now but I do not need 15 extra marks I only need 2. What worries me is that they are delaying to get back to me with the result, I hope they are not trying to knock my mark down!

(Original post by hobnob)
Are you sure that's what you meant to say?

Edit: As for the original question: it's hard to say, and it depends on the actual quality of the thesis as well as on the external markers. They'll know it was a grade dispute, so they'll probably be specifically looking for signs of whether it is or isn't of 2.i standard. It isn't like A-level remarks, though, where markers seem to be expected to mark people up. If they're not convinced it's a 2.i they won't give you one.
For what it's worth, I think you may have had a stronger case if at least one of the markers had actually given you a 2.i. Those aren't real percentages, so 59 isn't really just one mark off a 2.i. As far as I know, most tutors don't even use the full scale, they just use one mark for borderline / low 2.iis, one for middling 2.iis, one for high 2.iis and so on, and one person's 59 may well be another person's 57, so that in itself doesn't really tell you how close you were, unfortunately.
You are right on your points. I believe however that, an external examiner will follow a slightly different marking procedure from the one used in my uni. For example I know that I got heavily penalised because the number of pages my project consisted of, exceeded the limit of 40 pages I was allowed to write maximum. This rule however is not followed in every university and even if it was stupid of me to exceed the allowed number of pages, the external examiner might not have such a big problem with that, I hope ...
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hobnob
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(Original post by yiotis)
You are right on your points. I believe however that, an external examiner will follow a slightly different marking procedure from the one used in my uni. For example I know that I got heavily penalised because the number of pages my project consisted of, exceeded the limit of 40 pages I was allowed to write maximum. This rule however is not followed in every university and even if it was stupid of me to exceed the allowed number of pages, the external examiner might not have such a big problem with that, I hope ...

Well, good luck with that, but I doubt your cunning plan will work... If your department knocks off marks for work that exceeds the word limit, those marks will be knocked off regardless of who gave the original mark.
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by yiotis)
You are right on your points. I believe however that, an external examiner will follow a slightly different marking procedure from the one used in my uni. For example I know that I got heavily penalised because the number of pages my project consisted of, exceeded the limit of 40 pages I was allowed to write maximum. This rule however is not followed in every university and even if it was stupid of me to exceed the allowed number of pages, the external examiner might not have such a big problem with that, I hope ...
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not possible. If you gain advantage from doing something outside the rules, like writing too long a dissertation, then that is unfair to everyone who played by the rules. The only grounds for appeal would be if the rules were not made clear to you before you wrote the document (and note, this means you were not told the rules, not you didn't know about them. So if the rules are in a course handbook, or on the course website, they will say you were told. It's your funeral if you didn't read them).

The external will be given very clear guidance over the rules to apply. They may form a different view of some of the content, which might just give you the marks you need, in which case you are lucky. But an appeal based around the argument "I'm special and the rules don't apply to me" is likely to go nowhere. Following the instructions is an important life skill which most people have learned before now and, sadly for you, you may be about to pay a high price for that lesson.

The silver lining in this cloud is that they probably wouldn't have even allowed you to appeal if a squabble over length was the only reason. They must feel there is a possibility of the result changing, so you are still in the game. Good luck.
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yiotis
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(Original post by Cora Lindsay)
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not possible. If you gain advantage from doing something outside the rules, like writing too long a dissertation, then that is unfair to everyone who played by the rules. The only grounds for appeal would be if the rules were not made clear to you before you wrote the document (and note, this means you were not told the rules, not you didn't know about them. So if the rules are in a course handbook, or on the course website, they will say you were told. It's your funeral if you didn't read them).

The external will be given very clear guidance over the rules to apply. They may form a different view of some of the content, which might just give you the marks you need, in which case you are lucky. But an appeal based around the argument "I'm special and the rules don't apply to me" is likely to go nowhere. Following the instructions is an important life skill which most people have learned before now and, sadly for you, you may be about to pay a high price for that lesson.

The silver lining in this cloud is that they probably wouldn't have even allowed you to appeal if a squabble over length was the only reason. They must feel there is a possibility of the result changing, so you are still in the game. Good luck.
You misunderstood me :-)

The university is remarking my application because the OIA has forced them to, after I appealed for personal reasons. What I shared with you here is some speculations that I made because, I assumed that, an external examiner would not be confined by the university's rules.

The thing is, I am not sure what kind of relationships the unis have with their external examiners so I may sound ignorant - I am sorry.
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by yiotis)
You misunderstood me :-)

The university is remarking my application because the OIA has forced them to, after I appealed for personal reasons. What I shared with you here is some speculations that I made because, I assumed that, an external examiner would not be confined by the university's rules.

The thing is, I am not sure what kind of relationships the unis have with their external examiners so I may sound ignorant - I am sorry.
Oh OK, I understand now. An external will almost certainly mark to the same rules as the internal examiners- they have to because otherwise that would be unfair to candidates who didn't appeal.

However, if you have gone to OIA, this isn't about the mark, because OIA will not enter into disputes about academic judgement. It's about the process, and the grounds OIA will consider are either procedure (the university didn't follow the rules) or unfairness/discrimination. In these circumstances I am a bit surprised they have gone to an external, because the external examiner is primarily to validate the marks. More normally, OIA would ask the university to show that it had fully taken into account the personal circumstances to which you refer, and they would make that judgement. Without knowing what the personal circumstances are, or how the university took them into account, which is inappropriate, this is just speculation.
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yiotis
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(Original post by Cora Lindsay)
Oh OK, I understand now. An external will almost certainly mark to the same rules as the internal examiners- they have to because otherwise that would be unfair to candidates who didn't appeal.

However, if you have gone to OIA, this isn't about the mark, because OIA will not enter into disputes about academic judgement. It's about the process, and the grounds OIA will consider are either procedure (the university didn't follow the rules) or unfairness/discrimination. In these circumstances I am a bit surprised they have gone to an external, because the external examiner is primarily to validate the marks. More normally, OIA would ask the university to show that it had fully taken into account the personal circumstances to which you refer, and they would make that judgement. Without knowing what the personal circumstances are, or how the university took them into account, which is inappropriate, this is just speculation.
You right, I did not appeal to the OIA disputing my marks. The case was different and quite unusual - maybe that is why the OIA has asked my school to appoint an external examiner for remarking my thesis.
Fingers crossed I will be getting that 62 ... :-)
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Kitty Pimms
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(Original post by yiotis)
Yes I know that. But given that my valid mark is 59%, if I get 61% or more from the external examiner, I will have an average of 60% or more for the entire project.
Is this definitely how it works? I don't know the OIA (?) procedure so I may be way off the mark, but I know my MA dissertation went to the external after a mark dispute (quite standard really, the two marks were way apart) and the procedure was that the external marked it and their mark stood, for better or worse. It wasn't averaged with the other markers' marks. Or am I misunderstanding?

Good luck anyway, hope it goes well for you
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yiotis
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(Original post by IlexAquifolium)
Is this definitely how it works? I don't know the OIA (?) procedure so I may be way off the mark, but I know my MA dissertation went to the external after a mark dispute (quite standard really, the two marks were way apart) and the procedure was that the external marked it and their mark stood, for better or worse. It wasn't averaged with the other markers' marks. Or am I misunderstanding?

Good luck anyway, hope it goes well for you
Yes this is how it will work in my case - they announced it to me!

Out of curiosity how did the external examiner mark you compared to the other two examiners?
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by yiotis)
You right, I did not appeal to the OIA disputing my marks. The case was different and quite unusual - maybe that is why the OIA has asked my school to appoint an external examiner for remarking my thesis.
Fingers crossed I will be getting that 62 ... :-)
Well, whatever the ins and outs of this, good luck! You deserve it for persistence, if nothing else
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