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    Are exam scripts in universities externally moderated, so parity is maintained between the standards of different universities? I was originally under the impression that this was the case, and despite the fact that the people that teach you in university often write your examinations and are the first markers, a 2.1 in say history at Oxbridge would be equal in academic standard to a 2.1 in the same subject from Cardiff.

    However, some things I've read over the last few months, - http://education.guardian.co.uk/univ...182673,00.html - for example, seem to suggest that a lot more power lies with the universities in choosing their standards.

    So. Is it harder for someone to get the grades at Oxbridge? Is it therefore possible to directly compare (disregarding comparison in terms of reputation - purely academic) one's chance of gaining a First in history at Cardiff to a 2.1 at Oxford? Is Oxbridge more work because of shorter terms/academic pressure/speed of teaching/extra work or because the actual exams that you sit will be harder?
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    Yes you are correct in believing that the exams are harder at oxbridge than at other univeristies. However, this is because the course is structured so that they essentially cram in a Masters into 3 years (you can actually ask for a Masters certificate about 3 years after you've left the uni). So a 1.1 at oxbridge would definitely be harder than a 1.1 at, say, cardiff.
    As for direct comparisons, it's always very hard to make. But i'd guess it's something like a 2.1 at oxbridge is like a very good 1.1 at other unis. Alternatively a very good 2.2 at oxbridge would probably be a very high 2.1 at another uni. Obviously don't hold me to that. All i can confirm is that the exams are harder....but that's cos people work real hard at oxbridge.
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    I've heard from people who have first hand experience of both Oxbridge and non-Oxbridge exams that Oxbridge markers are more generous. This is reflected in the huge number of 2.1s and 1sts awarded there.

    Also, I'm not sure that the undergraduate degree does have the same content as a normal undergrad and a masters degree combined; this would be an impossible workload.
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    The truth is no-one really knows.
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    (Original post by shiny)
    The truth is no-one really knows.
    Very well put...

    Short piece of factual information: our exams do get looked at (albeit not very intensively) by external examiners.
    Short piece of not quite so factual information: among those lecturers I know at Essex several have got experience of marking at Oxbridge and they don't seem to be any harsher or more generous than those who haven't.
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    (Original post by J-z)
    I've heard from people who have first hand experience of both Oxbridge and non-Oxbridge exams that Oxbridge markers are more generous. This is reflected in the huge number of 2.1s and 1sts awarded there.

    Also, I'm not sure that the undergraduate degree does have the same content as a normal undergrad and a masters degree combined; this would be an impossible workload.
    assuming that oxbridge applicants are, as a group, more academically inclined than the national average, it should come as no surprise that a larger proportion of these people are awarded 2:1s and 1sts.

    don't underestimate how much cambridge can cram into an undergrad course. e.g. MVST IB (helenia and steve will know what i'm going on about.) and don't overestimate how much can be crammed into a single year masters course. basically, it is well within the limits of reason to cram a 4 year bachelor's and master's course into 3 years. look at it this way - the cambridge preclinical course is essentially 2 years long - 3rd year's largely irrelevant to the practise of medicine. (this is in comparison to the standard 3 year preclinical course.)
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    (Original post by KHL)
    look at it this way - the cambridge preclinical course is essentially 2 years long - 3rd year's largely irrelevant to the practise of medicine. (this is in comparison to the standard 3 year preclinical course.)
    Do you get as much clinical contact as others though?
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    I think the only way to measure this is if somebody studied the same subject at at oxbridge and then at another university. Its never going to happen though.

    The higher amount of 2:1 and above award at Oxbridge could be down to the fact that the students tend to be of better quality.

    The hardest thing about Oxbridge though may well be getting in in the first place as we all have to work damn hard to get a 1st.
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    There may be students of higher quality, but I don't accept that every student there is superior to every other student at university. True, there will be some undeniable talent, but after the upper echelons the competition for places at undergraduate level is a lottery.
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    Only 20% of Finalists get a First, it isn;t like 50% or something. I think the high number of 2i+ is probable down to a combination of the ability of the student and the colligate system. I still think that if you can get a 2i at Oxbridge you could get a 2i at pretty much every other university, though.
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    (Original post by Ananke)
    Are exam scripts in universities externally moderated, so parity is maintained between the standards of different universities? I was originally under the impression that this was the case, and despite the fact that the people that teach you in university often write your examinations and are the first markers, a 2.1 in say history at Oxbridge would be equal in academic standard to a 2.1 in the same subject from Cardiff.

    However, some things I've read over the last few months, - http://education.guardian.co.uk/univ...182673,00.html - for example, seem to suggest that a lot more power lies with the universities in choosing their standards.

    So. Is it harder for someone to get the grades at Oxbridge? Is it therefore possible to directly compare (disregarding comparison in terms of reputation - purely academic) one's chance of gaining a First in history at Cardiff to a 2.1 at Oxford? Is Oxbridge more work because of shorter terms/academic pressure/speed of teaching/extra work or because the actual exams that you sit will be harder?
    In compsci in cam 25% are firsts, 35% below that 2.is, 30% below that are 2.iis and the last 10% are thirds. If you fall off into negative numbers after theyve scaled your mark then you fail.

    One could come to the conclusion then that someone with a third from cam is still better than the rest of the student population. That conclusion would of course be complete B.S but it does mean it's harder to get the higher grades. I think a lot of the 2.is would get firsts at other unis, but I'm not sure about the 2.iis.

    Alaric.
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    (Original post by Ananke)
    Are exam scripts in universities externally moderated, so parity is maintained between the standards of different universities?
    you would need to compare the syllabus of other unis to ox or cam as well; it might well turn out that the exams are set at the same standard but that one set of students have covered a much broader curriculum and are being tested on a very narrow area of it.
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    (Original post by Willa)
    Yes you are correct in believing that the exams are harder at oxbridge than at other univeristies. However, this is because the course is structured so that they essentially cram in a Masters into 3 years (you can actually ask for a Masters certificate about 3 years after you've left the uni).
    That's wrong. The Oxbridge MAs are just an historical accident, they are nothing like real master's degrees. The course structure isn't affected.
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    Ppl on this thread seem to be suggesting that oxbridge degrees may be harder, then all other universities are pretty much the same? Like sum1 said , nobody really knows, which is a pretty crazy situation really, but there does seem to be some variation - i dont think a 2-1 from sumwhere like TV (where most of the students have got in with low grades) can be of the same value as a 2-1 from Warwick or UCL or somewhere like that. Personally Id be inclined to think that the difference between a 2-1 from Warwick or Oxford would be a lot smaller than the difference between Warwick and TV. They should be standardised so that a degree is a degree wherever you go. League tables cant be helping because it must be tempting for universities to give out more 'good' degrees and make themselves look better!
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    Standardising degrees would be very hard to do! And it would cost a bomb as well!
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    (Original post by shiny)
    Standardising degrees would be very hard to do! And it would cost a bomb as well!
    Well theyve tried to do it to GCSEs and A levels- reasonably successfully Id say! At the moment they dont even seem to be trying to do so with degrees. I know it would be difficult when there is such a wide choice of subjects but they should try! At the moment we have a ridiculous system where nobody has any kind of standard at all. Its like if a race was held in the olympics and everyone ran on a different track, over a different distance and started at different times and were timed with inaccurate watches, then you declared that someone was first, second third or whatever!
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    (Original post by smaug)
    Well theyve tried to do it to GCSEs and A levels- reasonably successfully Id say! At the moment they dont even seem to be trying to do so with degrees. I know it would be difficult when there is such a wide choice of subjects but they should try! At the moment we have a ridiculous system where nobody has any kind of standard at all. Its like if a race was held in the olympics and everyone ran on a different track, over a different distance and started at different times and were timed with inaccurate watches, then you declared that someone was first, second third or whatever!
    What would be the point of systematically standardising degrees? The situation may seem confusing at the moment, but pretty much everyone knows the value of a particular degree from a particular institution.
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    (Original post by d750)
    What would be the point of systematically standardising degrees? The situation may seem confusing at the moment, but pretty much everyone knows the value of a particular degree from a particular institution.
    Also if they did that there would be a ridiculous number of firsts at Oxbridge. Oxford and Cambridge tend to take students from what they consider to be the top 5-10 %. If therefore a first at all universities was, say, the top 10%, the majority of Oxbridge students would get firsts, and the universities would not differentiate the bright (almost everyone who gets accepted) from the very bright (those who get firsts).
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    IMHO Oxford degrees are harder for two major reasons (although I can only really speak from my experience doing Human Sciences):

    1). I had to write an average of 12 essays a term (8 weeks), and once of twice that went up to 16. So, up to around 5,000 to 6,000 words a week. This is more than any of my other friends at other universities (bar Cambridge).

    2). 87.5% of my degree was based on 7 three hour exams over 8 days (the other 12.5% was a dissertation written alongside my normal college work)

    This is first and foremost an awful lot of stress. I think Oxbridge degrees are seen in a better light due to this and the high selection standards in the first place. It doesn't necessarily mean that the degrees themselves are harder or that you need to know more to get one, but more that they put you through hell in order to get there and thus an employer knows that an Oxbridge graduate can handle more work than another graduate, on average - I know a lot of people who could have gone to Oxford but couldn't have handled the work load and vice versa, and I know a lot of people who got in and didn't deserve to, IMHO of course

    Human Sciences at Oxford has no syllabus so a direct comparison is not possible. Two external examiners are involved and on a couple of occasions they have accused the internal examiners of marking to harshly.

    As for a 2.1 being equal to this or that at another university I don't think thats true. Its not a better degree that Oxbridge gives you its better transferrable skills.
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    (Original post by Catt)
    As for a 2.1 being equal to this or that at another university I don't think thats true. Its not a better degree that Oxbridge gives you its better transferrable skills.
    I gather that in Maths and Physics it really is the case that at Oxbridge you cover much more content at a higher level than other universities (though as an arts student I cannot really judge this). Within the arts the line of how much tougher is obviously blurred. It is unfair to really equate grades with other universities, but I still think it would be tougher to get a first - both in terms of workload and in terms of the quality of work - in Oxbridge. How could it not be given the heavier work load and much more selective admissions process?
 
 
 

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