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    I completed a Master's dissertation, which I thought was very good, however I received a mark of 55% for it which is very disappointing. It was marked by two people, noe of them gave it 50%, one of them gave it 60%. To me, I find a 10% difference quite shocking, as on the feedback page, the first marker said the second marker was very harsh on me (the guy who was harsh turned out to be my dissertation supervisor, who actually never supervised me and was on leave for most of the year).

    There is no review procedure available at my Uni, other than a complaints procedure, which I have initiated. As regards to the 10% difference, my Uni claims that "This underlines how thoughtfully each marker assessed the dissertation." Do you guys agree with that? My supervisor who isn't english told me he couldn't understand any of my english and told me he wasn't familiar with the topic of my dissertation (he gave me the lowest mark). It's funny he doesn't understand my english because in all my other essays I got high merits and distinctions- as a native English speaker I find it hard to believe how I can suddenly be going from a distinction writing level to a mid pass level?

    I only just found out my Uni submitted by dissertation for external mark approval to another uni, and I was told the name of that person. Turns out I was liaising with that person for a few months and gave that same person my dissertation. Whilst he approved the initial mark from UCL (55%), he said that paper was of a 65% standard- he obviously didn't bother to read it first time round and didn't want to contradict UCL. I've also given it for review to a US lawyer who teaches at a prestigious uni in London, and he gave the paper 67%.

    I can only think my dissertation is worth at least a merit, but not a pass, but what can I do???
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    Unfortunately I think that all you can do is follow through with the complaints process. What other feedback on the dissertation were you given? It is unlikely that the markers only talked about your academic English. I'm not sure why you have given it to a US lawyer to read - is it a law dissertation?

    The issues you had with your supervisor really should have been brought up with your department head before you submitted the dissertation. After-the-fact revelations of supervisory problems are rarely taken seriously because it sounds like an excuse. Sometimes that's fair, sometimes that's unfair, but that's why all departments will have some kind of procedure in place for you to raise issues about supervision.

    You can always go along to your student union/association and ask them for advice of what to do should you be unhappy with the outcome of the complaints procedure.

    Good luck.
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    Usually you can only appeal if you believe there's been some kind of irregularity e.g. One or more of the markers hasn't followed the set marking scheme. You can't appeal if you just disagree with the mark. You can only try the appeals process and see if it gets anywhere. From what you've posted, I wouldn't be hopeful.

    A 10% discrepancy between markers is not that remarkable. When I did my internal uni graduate teaching course, the class were given the same two example pieces of undergrad coursework to mark using the same marking criteria. Marks for one ranged from 38% to 72%. The lecturer used it to show that all marking was subjective and that all you could do was be as fair as you could possibly be. The comment was that neither the highest nor lowest mark was "incorrect" per se, but that both would be expected to go for external moderation.

    A member of uni staff told me of one undergrad diss which they failed, but the other marker considered it a First. It had to be pointed out that a core part of the methodology breached health & safety legislation, was actively dangerous and fundamentally flawed. They compromised on a mark in the mid-50s.

    Basically, if you ask six people to mark something using the same criteria, they will come up with six different marks and there can be significant differences between them. Obviously you'd always like the best one but realistically that sometimes doesn't happen.
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    Just to add, I had a mark in the low 60s for a piece of Masters work which I considered a very good First. The accompanying apparently critical feedback stated that "You have worked too hard on this assignment." That still stings three years later.

    Sometimes marking isn't fair or logical, but trying to prove that via an academic appeals process would be doomed to failure.
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    You raise the question about how it is possible to go 'from a distinction writing level to a mid pass level' and then say (if I've interpreted it correctly) that you had no supervisions at dissertation stage.

    I would say that the two are related - there can be such a step up for dissertation, and supervisors are there to enable you to meet these expectations.

    Tasha's point above is extremely valid. Did you raise the lack of supervisions with your course leader before you found out your result?
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    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    You raise the question about how it is possible to go 'from a distinction writing level to a mid pass level' and then say (if I've interpreted it correctly) that you had no supervisions at dissertation stage.

    I would say that the two are related - there can be such a step up for dissertation, and supervisors are there to enable you to meet these expectations.

    Tasha's point above is extremely valid. Did you raise the lack of supervisions with your course leader before you found out your result?
    It must also be said that his supervisor is an *******. He did not supervise and gave the lowest mark to his student as a result. What a despicable person.

    OP should give him the comment he deserves on ratemyprofessor.
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    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    You raise the question about how it is possible to go 'from a distinction writing level to a mid pass level' and then say (if I've interpreted it correctly) that you had no supervisions at dissertation stage.

    I would say that the two are related - there can be such a step up for dissertation, and supervisors are there to enable you to meet these expectations.

    Tasha's point above is extremely valid. Did you raise the lack of supervisions with your course leader before you found out your result?
    Yes I did, many times, and the faculty assigned me a PhD student to help me with stylistic features. However, the student had no knowledge of my topic whatsoever. On the feedback of my dissertation, the first marker wrote that he disagreed with the harsh marking of the second marker (my supervisor). 5 people in total have seen and given me a mark indication for my dissertation, and all the marks were between 60-67%. Only one person gave me 50%. This goes to show that the paper is of a merit level but the complaints system is so biased. They send the paper to a uni so close to mine, where all the teachers teaching this subject know each other- they would never contradict each other so I don't see the point...

    I guess I just need to swallow this academic unfairness, and the fact I spent 12.5K for this stupid master's degree!
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    Generally you cannot complain against professionalism and can't just disagree with the mark.

    You can complain about other inappropriate things, such as the fact that you didn't receive any supervision at all, or the fact that he was included as an examiner despite not knowing your field (you'll need to have strong evidence for this one, though). But in any case, I don't think they'll raise your mark.
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    (Original post by JusticeSeeker)
    Yes I did, many times, and the faculty assigned me a PhD student to help me with stylistic features. However, the student had no knowledge of my topic whatsoever. On the feedback of my dissertation, the first marker wrote that he disagreed with the harsh marking of the second marker (my supervisor). 5 people in total have seen and given me a mark indication for my dissertation, and all the marks were between 60-67%. Only one person gave me 50%. This goes to show that the paper is of a merit level but the complaints system is so biased. They send the paper to a uni so close to mine, where all the teachers teaching this subject know each other- they would never contradict each other so I don't see the point...

    I guess I just need to swallow this academic unfairness, and the fact I spent 12.5K for this stupid master's degree!
    Where did you study? in which field?

    Take your revenge: http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/


    (Original post by clh_hilary)
    Generally you cannot complain against professionalism and can't just disagree with the mark.

    You can complain about other inappropriate things, such as the fact that you didn't receive any supervision at all, or the fact that he was included as an examiner despite not knowing your field (you'll need to have strong evidence for this one, though). But in any case, I don't think they'll raise your mark.
    In France, students can file lawsuits against universities in cases like this one, and usually unis back off.
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    A 10% difference between markers is not uncommon. What I would be more concerned about is the fact the marker you have an issue with 'wasn't familiar with the topic' which sounds like they should not be marking dissertations and it is certainly not a cause for low marks.

    If I were you I would proceed with the complaints but be careful not to upset the University. I know it's difficult not to go insane at them when you are gutted with a mark but they can get annoyed when you bring third-party marks into it. Very best of luck!
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    (Original post by Josb)
    In France, students can file lawsuits against universities in cases like this one, and usually unis back off.
    If they have broken a law, it's different; but I don't know which law they have broken in this case.

    I'm talking about university complaint procedure in this case, most if not all top universities do not allow complaints against professionalism.
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    (Original post by clh_hilary)
    If they have broken a law, it's different; but I don't know which law they have broken in this case.

    I'm talking about university complaint procedure in this case, most if not all top universities do not allow complaints against professionalism.
    It's very different in France, because we have 'administrative courts', which are competent to judge 'misbehaviour' of the administration. In this case, OP would have good chance to win in France as the university failed to provide a dedicated supervisor.


    To the OP, how did you choose your supervisor?
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    (Original post by Josb)
    It's very different in France, because we have 'administrative courts', which are competent to judge 'misbehaviour' of the administration. In this case, OP would have good chance to win in France as the university failed to provide a dedicated supervisor.
    Well, as I've mentioned, he can lodge complaints against the fact that he hasn't got any supervision or that the supervisor is not from his field. But with the latter he'll need to have strong evidence to support him.

    If they're from the same department, the university can still argue that the supervisor has sufficient general knowledge about this specific field or that it is already the best they could have done.
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    (Original post by clh_hilary)
    Well, as I've mentioned, he can lodge complaints against the fact that he hasn't got any supervision or that the supervisor is not from his field. But with the latter he'll need to have strong evidence to support him.

    If they're from the same department, the university can still argue that the supervisor has sufficient general knowledge about this specific field or that it is already the best they could have done.
    From what OP has already said, it seems they won't do anything and put that under the rug.
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    (Original post by Josb)
    From what OP has already said, it seems they won't do anything and put that under the rug.
    From my understanding he hasn't made a formal complaint yet.

    They cannot just disregard formal complaints without due procedures.

    A formal complaint is not necessarily just one made to the head of department/school/faculty/institute/division, but one submitted straight to the Vice-Chancellor, proctors, or other officer(s) concerned. If he attends a decent university, they will have procedures in place, so ever if they outcome is not in favour of him, they cannot just dismiss and ignore him altogether if he's made the complaint formally.
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    (Original post by clh_hilary)
    From my understanding he hasn't made a formal complaint yet.

    They cannot just disregard formal complaints without due procedures.

    A formal complaint is not necessarily just one made to the head of department/school/faculty/institute/division, but one submitted straight to the Vice-Chancellor, proctors, or other officer(s) concerned. If he attends a decent university, they will have procedures in place, so ever if they outcome is not in favour of him, they cannot just dismiss and ignore him altogether if he's made the complaint formally.
    Ah ok, then OP should do that. He has nothing to lose and may have good evidences.
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    (Original post by Josb)
    Ah ok, then OP should do that. He has nothing to lose and may have good evidences.
    It's a lot of time and effort and psychological strength.
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    I have initiated a formal complaint. My supervisor was automatically allocated to me. However, he called me to give me feedback and acknowledged he knew very little about the subject of my dissertation.
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    (Original post by JusticeSeeker)
    I have initiated a formal complaint. My supervisor was automatically allocated to me. However, he called me to give me feedback and acknowledged he knew very little about the subject of my dissertation.
    Your best evidence will be copies of all the emails you sent, trying to get something done about your lack of supervision, and pointing out the poor quality of the supervision you ended up with thereafter. The more you can show that you proactively tried to resolve the issue before the hand-in date, the more convincing your case will be.

    Good luck - I really hope it works out.
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    (Original post by JusticeSeeker)

    I only just found out my Uni submitted by dissertation for external mark approval to another uni, and I was told the name of that person. Turns out I was liaising with that person for a few months and gave that same person my dissertation. Whilst he approved the initial mark from UCL (55%), he said that paper was of a 65% standard- he obviously didn't bother to read it first time round and didn't want to contradict UCL. I've also given it for review to a US lawyer who teaches at a prestigious uni in London, and he gave the paper 67%.
    It wasn't uncommon in my masters for there to be marked differences of opinion between markers, and our system worked so that any assignment with a difference of 10% or more automatically went to an external examiner to help award a final grade. From what you have said above, your dissertation has been graded by an external - whether because this is normal practice or because of the grading difference is not clear, but the fact is that the UCL grade has been confirmed by an external and I seriously doubt that you will get any joy in changing the grade as a result. (My personal experience has been that externals are more than happy to contradict at least one of the internal markers/grade!!)

    To be blunt, I'm also not sure what you hope to achieve by telling them other people gave it higher marks. Many students could probably "shop around" for better grades; and it is also entirely possible that someone looking at it and saying "yes it's 67%" has not actually assessed it with the same level of care as an examiner would (especially if it is a busy professor reading it as a favour.). Or it's possible UCL/your department works the same way my uni/department does: a guideline is given to externals, and it is made clear to us that what we need to get a distinction is in many cases more than what we would need at other universities, because the guidelines are generally more stringent.

    Bottom line is as most others have said - unless you can show valid procedural irregularities , I don't think you'll have much luck appealing the grade...
 
 
 
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