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Unfair MA dissertation grade watch

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    I'm just wondering if anyone on the forum has faced a similar situation to mine, I'll try to be brief. After finishing my first 2 semesters in an MA in education with an average of 68 percent, I started my dissertation in May. Having been allocated a supervisor I got on well with, I started research on quite a distinct part of international education, with the supervisor's recommendation, advice and support. 2 months in, and the supervisor suddenly leaves the university stating contractual difficulties with the university and also leaves the country suddenly. I had already done a lot of work at this point and was scheduled to do some work at the university, so for a couple of weeks I awaited the response of my course leaders. With a month remaining I was allocated another supervisor who was very busy and said that there was no time to meet, but I shouldn't worry and should just submit, however I was concerned, but the new supervisor stated that there was no time to change any work and would not look at it. I received my results last week and received 45% for my dissertation. I have already contacted the head of department for a meeting, and will continue down appeals processes regarding advice on structure and content, as these were the areas in which I was heavily criticised for by my marker, but recommended by my first supervisor. Even though my average finishes above 60%, just, I can't get a merit as I did not receive above 60% in my dissertation. Any replies/advice welcome.
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    I think your complaint is valid. Massively so. Be sure to explain your point as well when talking this through with the uni.

    Also I'm hoping you have some evidence of parts of the dialogue you had with supervisors in email. It's ok if you don't because the sudden change in supervisor can't be denied but yeah, if you have any email evidence of what was said then be sure to supply that too.

    I think you definitely have a case. Hope you get what you need.
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    May be a bit of a grey area, as you won't be allowed to appeal on the grounds that you disagree with the marker's grade or comments. It's possible for a supervisor and marker to disagree on many aspects of a dissertation. Academic judgement is just that - it's subjective and can differ. It doesn't give you grounds for appeal. Bear in mind that your diss will (at most unis) have been second marked. If the second marker had disagreed with the first marker, then this should have resulted in your mark being negotiated up. Either the second and first marker agreed, or the first marker gave you an even lower mark than the one you ended up with. I've certainly know two markers have to negotiate a mark between a Fail and a First.

    However if you can prove that the change in supervisor and subsequent lack of supervision contributed, then that would make a better case. Specific advice from your second supervisor may have helped, but that is a hypothetical situation and would be impossible to prove if they never read your draft.

    A complicating factor is that your first supervisor left the uni under a cloud. It may not be politically expedient to give his diss students a good mark, if poor results will bolster the uni's case against him in any legal employment dispute.

    I wish you luck, as I've experienced a supervisor/viva panel clash at PhD level, which was incredibly difficult.
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    What a horrible position to be in. Just checking - but when you say you received your result last week, was that your overall result or your dissertation mark? Are they asking you to resubmit the dissertation?
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    Many thanks for the replies. Just to be clear, there were some difficulties between my first supervisor and the university, and our last meeting was on Skype as he decided not to return to the premesis for the last month. Additionally the second marker gave exactly the same mark as the first marker, but the second marker is someone I have never met, my old supervisor's replacement. Their comments were very simple, and it appears they haven't read the dissertation, to be extra clear, both the markers are not experts in my dissertation area, where the previous supervisor was. It's all rather strange, even more so as the academic staff believed that I was fine working on my own, after the first supervisor left. I am awaiting a reply from the head of department, and I'll talk about a resubmission in our first meeting, I'll post an update, as you can imagine I'm livid, especially as it's an investment of £6000, and that it could reduce my chances of doing a PhD at the university, tbh, could be a warning not to do further study there ...
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    (Original post by York1987)
    Many thanks for the replies. Just to be clear, there were some difficulties between my first supervisor and the university, and our last meeting was on Skype as he decided not to return to the premesis for the last month. Additionally the second marker gave exactly the same mark as the first marker, but the second marker is someone I have never met, my old supervisor's replacement. Their comments were very simple, and it appears they haven't read the dissertation, to be extra clear, both the markers are not experts in my dissertation area, where the previous supervisor was. It's all rather strange, even more so as the academic staff believed that I was fine working on my own, after the first supervisor left. I am awaiting a reply from the head of department, and I'll talk about a resubmission in our first meeting, I'll post an update, as you can imagine I'm livid, especially as it's an investment of £6000, and that it could reduce my chances of doing a PhD at the university, tbh, could be a warning not to do further study there ...
    Trying to see if there are procedural errors to support your claim, and I'm wondering about the issue of the second marker being your old supervisor's replacement.

    If he was your supervisor and also the second marker, is that against university regulations? (may or may not be, unis differ)

    If he was your (notional) supervisor and advised you to submit, then only gave you 45%, has he fulfilled his supervisory role correctly?

    I have no idea if these are worth pursuing, but they may at least be points worth raising.
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    Thanks again, there are some great points on this thread to bring up for future meetings, there has to be some kind of break in protocol on their behalf, and I'm sure I'll get the chance to resubmit, however, this could be really time consuming, and especially as I'm back into full time work again, funnily enough at the same university in a different department.
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    It certainly sounds like you have grounds for a procedural appeal. The idea that your supervisor should be second marker - even a replacement who had minimal dealings with you - is highly irregular. Being your supervisor clearly compromises their impartiality.

    Also, you may be able to use the feedback comments to deminstrate that they have not read the content fully. You need to break it down sentence by sentence, and refute each point e.g. Comment: "This thesis does not cover XYZ." Your comment: "XYZ is addressed on page 12, paragraph 3." You shouldn't address matters of academic opinion or judgement, but you can challenge points which show that the markers just don't have the facts right about your diss.
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    I don't think you should have to resubmit. I don't know if this is feasible but in an ideal world it would be good if your original supervisor was allowed to offer their opinion on the work what with being a specialist and all.

    In the likelihood that the above is not possible, you should be all like "well there you go then, the marking is not fair because I've been advised what to do by a specialist and advised on how to proceed based on their standards and now the bloody goal posts have been changed by a non specialist who marked my work having avoided engaging with me for a significant period of time anyway."

    Make it about them and their handling of this. I don't think you should be talking resubmission until you've made it clear that they need to sort stuff out at their end because clearly they do.
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    What has been said about academic judgement vs procedure is important. I got detailed feedback from my 2 (anonymous) markers, and they clearly disagreed both with each other and with my supervisor on certain aspects of my dissertation. So just "my supervisor said it was fine but they marked me down" probably isn't enough to appeal on - you will need to show some disadvantage from the procedural aspects.
 
 
 
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