Struggling with masters due to limited readings/referencing

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StokeLad
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Hello,

My girlfriend is currently doing a masters at a pretty well known Uni, I'd rather not say which, at least for the moment. She has been given the task of writing an essay but is finding referencing a nightmare.

The biggest problem is that the students have been given a limited set of readings, all their references must be from these readings, according to my girlfriend. Internet sources are banned which I can understand, but so is the library which I simply can't. Having completed an undergraduate degree, I have never heard such rubbish in my life, but that's why I'm here.
Is this likely? Or has she made a mistake? Is she really expected to use these few readings despite the fact they don't contain enough relevant information? I was always under the belief that any peer reviewed books from the library would be acceptable, assuming the quotation or fact is relevant and beneficial to the essay.

My girlfriend is also finding talking to her tutor extremely difficult. She is foreign and they seem to have problems communicating. Her tutor has repeatedly replied to e-mails with "please refer to supplied references" but has inferred in a meeting that the supplied material doesn't contain anything relevant to the essay question, which has left my girlfriend understandably more confused than before. They have another meeting on Thursday but as the essay is in next Monday, time is fast running out.

My girlfriend is now frantically panicking and seriously considering quitting. I am trying to convince her otherwise as it's cost a large amount of money and we can't really afford for her to drop out, but as each day draws closer to the submission she is getting emotional and feeling stressed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated; thank you.
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FadedJade
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They are not going to ban you from doing extra research. That's ludicrous. It probably means that these are essential books for the essay which your girlfriend must read (and presumably reference in some way) but on top of that it's up to you.
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StokeLad
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My girlfriend has read the supplied material several times and has found next to nothing of use. Unfortunately, these aren't supplied readings as such, like books to borrow, or journals to find; these are portions of text cut from different books or articles. Some of them are maybe 4 or 5 pages long but realistically, there is nowhere near enough content to get anything like the number of references required for a proper essay.

Like I said, she is of the belief that the library is completely off limits which is making the whole thing impossible. I'm not sure whether this is more miscommunication between her and the tutor, but the fact she feels she can't ask anyone else means she's now in a state of limbo.
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FadedJade
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Well she has 3 choices:

a) Do the task using only the required tasks to the best of her ability
b) Ask someone else
c) Go to library and find what she needs.

It sounds like a taught Masters, so why doesn't she ask someone on her course instead of another tutor? Asking whoever set the essay is the obvious solution. If it was her own tutor, then just go for C.
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Klix88
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(Original post by StokeLad)
Like I said, she is of the belief that the library is completely off limits which is making the whole thing impossible. I'm not sure whether this is more miscommunication between her and the tutor, but the fact she feels she can't ask anyone else means she's now in a state of limbo.
Does everyone else on her course have the same problem? If not, then she needs to ask them how they've interpreted the assignment.

If the problem tutor isn't her Course Leader, then she should approach her Course Leader. Mine acted as an intermediary when other members of staff threatened to throw a spanner in the works. On one occasion, the entire group had misinterpreted something that was said and everything was fine once the misunderstanding had been explained. On another occasion, a member of staff was just being awkward and my Course Leader advised the best way to work around the problem. Sometimes there isn't a "Magic Bullet" cure, but there may be a workaround.

If other students agree with her and they don't feel that they can approach the tutor or the Course Leader direct even as a group, then they should go to their Student Union Representative and escalate it. The Student Union should have established routes of communication for this type of issue, although leaving it this late to raise a concern is a worry in itself.

Quitting over a single piece of coursework when she hasn't taken every path available for a resolution, seems a bit extreme. Is a poor mark for a single assignment really going to derail her chances of passing? Maybe she needs you to give her a little perspective?
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