UK PhD Degree Classifications

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rickynova
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#1
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#1
Hi all,

What are the degree Classifications for PHD or Research Degrees in the UK?

I've tried searching on Google - but I can't get a clear answer or any real info

Thanks
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hobnob
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#2
(Original post by rickynova)
Hi all,

What are the degree Classifications for PHD or Research Degrees in the UK?

I've tried searching on Google - but I can't get a clear answer or any real info

Thanks
It's pretty straightforward, really: for PhDs you either pass or you fail.
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Tasha1986
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As above.

When you sit your viva (oral defence of your thesis) your examining committee will decide one of the following:

Pass with no corrections
Pass with minor corrections
Pass with major corrections
Fail

But these aren't classifications. You either get your PhD or you don't. There's no such thing as a PhD with Distinction or Merit.
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rickynova
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#4
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Ah okay thanks. So will it just say "pass" on a phd certificate?

But the UK Masters degree classes are Merit, Distinction and Pass - am I correct? Or are is Masters just like the undergrad classification of 1st, 2.1 etc.?

Thanks again!
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Tasha1986
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Masters degrees have classifications of Pass, Merit, and Distinction. At some universities a pass is the same as a merit.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Tasha1986)
As above.

When you sit your viva (oral defence of your thesis) your examining committee will decide one of the following:

Pass with no corrections
Pass with minor corrections
Pass with major corrections
Fail

But these aren't classifications. You either get your PhD or you don't. There's no such thing as a PhD with Distinction or Merit.
Most universities have a consolation prize which is usually an MPhil or an MLitt (which can often also be studied for as a two year research degree with a shorter thesis). It is usually awarded where the thesis is considered not to contain an original contribution to research.

http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/postgraduate/mlitt.php

http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/...ssary.html#msc
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Dirac Delta Function
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
Most universities have a consolation prize which is usually an MPhil or an MLitt (which can often also be studied for as a two year research degree with a shorter thesis). It is usually awarded where the thesis is considered not to contain an original contribution to research.

http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/postgraduate/mlitt.php

http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/...ssary.html#msc
I don't really see the point of this. What's the MPhil actually awarding? It seems it is awarding failing a PhD.
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hobnob
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(Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
I don't really see the point of this. What's the MPhil actually awarding? It seems it is awarding failing a PhD.
It's to recognise the fact that just because someone's thesis didn't pass muster for one reason or another, it doesn't automatically mean all of their work up to that point has been totally worthless. But as nulli tertius said, it's very much a consolation prize and perceived as such.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
I don't really see the point of this. What's the MPhil actually awarding? It seems it is awarding failing a PhD.
In some subjects it is hard for weaker students to demonstrate an original contribution to research. There are a lot of theses on the rise of Hitler, feminism and the Brontes. If all one says is what has been said before then the result is an MLitt.

See

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.u...orycode=410208
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Dirac Delta Function
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(Original post by hobnob)
It's to recognise the fact that just because someone's thesis didn't pass muster for one reason or another, it doesn't automatically mean all of their work up to that point has been totally worthless. But as nulli tertius said, it's very much a consolation prize and perceived as such.
I agree. However, in that case, it should be the case that the original contribution that is produced - though not substantial enough for a PhD - should be substantial enough for a Master's level post-graduate level degree. It should still contain some successful contribution to knowledge, rather than recognise a failed attempt.
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Dirac Delta Function
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
In some subjects it is hard for weaker students to demonstrate an original contribution to research. There are a lot of theses on the rise of Hitler, feminism and the Brontes. If all one says is what has been said before then the result is an MLitt.

See

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.u...orycode=410208
This is what I mean - why award anything at all in that case? This would be acceptable at an undergrad level, but not at post-grad.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
This is what I mean - why award anything at all in that case? This would be acceptable at an undergrad level, but not at post-grad.
The person concerned has acquired a far greater knowledge of the subject of the thesis than would be demonstrated at undergraduate level. The award reflects that knowledge.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by rickynova)
Ah okay thanks. So will it just say "pass" on a phd certificate?

!
It doesn't have to, you only get a certificate if you pass!
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username854791
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Can one get an PhD in Medicine?
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hobnob
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(Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
I agree. However, in that case, it should be the case that the original contribution that is produced - though not substantial enough for a PhD - should be substantial enough for a Master's level post-graduate level degree. It should still contain some successful contribution to knowledge, rather than recognise a failed attempt.
That depends on how narrowly you define 'failed attempt'. Most of the time those 'failed' PhD theses probably do represent some form of contribution to the field, even if they're not enough to merit the award of a PhD. Obviously people who miss the requirements for a PhD aren't just given an MLitt / MPhil / MWhatever by default, though. Their work is still checked against the criteria for the lower degree, and if the thesis really is a complete disaster they can be given an outright fail.
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
I don't really see the point of this. What's the MPhil actually awarding? It seems it is awarding failing a PhD.
The criteria are different. The PhD has to contain evidence of an original contribution to knowledge of the field, whereas an MPhil has to contain evidence of a training in research methods. So it is entirely possible for the judgement to be that there is no original contribution to knowledge but there is evidence of a training in research methods. In practice, it is easier to cross the MPhil bar than the PhD one, which is why MPhils can end up being seen as consolation prizes for a failed PhD.
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Pryda
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
In some subjects it is hard for weaker students to demonstrate an original contribution to research. There are a lot of theses on the rise of Hitler, feminism and the Brontes. If all one says is what has been said before then the result is an MLitt.

See

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.u...orycode=410208
Very interesting article, thanks for the link. The comments offer a different view as well. Ultimately, I believe poster 'Seabie' was correct,

(Original post by Saebie)
In fact, this is "How not to write a PhD thesis in Media Studies" and half the points have no relevance for my discipline.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by Future_Dr)
Can one get an PhD in Medicine?
Yes
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*Supernova*
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I applied outright to study the 2-year MPhil at Oxford, with no intention of continuing on to a PhD. A life in academia isn't for me, but I wanted the chance to write a longer thesis before leaving university for good.

Will employers look down on this and automatically presume I'm a 'failed' PhD student, or do people outside academia not really know the distinction between the different types of Masters degrees?
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by *Supernova*)
I applied outright to study the 2-year MPhil at Oxford, with no intention of continuing on to a PhD. A life in academia isn't for me, but I wanted the chance to write a longer thesis before leaving university for good.

Will employers look down on this and automatically presume I'm a 'failed' PhD student, or do people outside academia not really know the distinction between the different types of Masters degrees?
Most will not. Those that do, will know that Oxford's "consolation prize" is an MLitt not a MPhil
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