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Failed my MSc Dissertation - depressed and need some advice! :( Watch

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    Hey guys. I'm feeling really miserable and I need your advice. In 2014, I started my MSc in Business Psychology. I was really excited and finished the program within a year. My professor/supervisor encouraged me to do a quantitative research instead of qualitative. I told her I wasn't good in stats at all and I would rather do qualitative, but she told me don't worry I'll help you throughout your thesis. So everyone in class but me and 2 others did quantitative.

    So throughout my thesis, i was supposed to use a software called SPSS which I really struggled with. My supervisor wasn't helpful at all and was on a long vacation and barely answered my emails on time. So I turned to Google and YouTube for help. I really tried my best learning what kinds of stats to use and how to analyze my data. My supervisor told me to use specific kinds of stats and assured me that they were enough (they weren't though and I only came to know of this once I failed). Before submitting my thesis, she told me not to worry and that my dissertation was "simple and to the point" and "quite good". (My supervisor was one of the examiners btw)

    Long story cut short, I failed. I got a freaking 42% and passing was at 50%. I was so depressed and when I talked to my supervisor, she told me your thesis was and I quote "really bad" and not at a postgraduate level. I felt betrayed. How could she have told me it was really good and then given me a 42%! And then she started laughing and told me that "you're just like me; you're just not cut for quantitative." I will never forget that laugh and those words; I've never felt so betrayed.

    I didn't even know how to respond or what to say. I really felt bad and miserable and I couldn't believe how a professor would do and say such a thing. She also didn't give me any feedback and didn't even tell me where I went wrong; she simply highlighted the "D section" in the rubric, and the head of the Business Psychology told us that that is the only feedback we would be getting. I was confused because i really wanted to know where I went wrong.

    My supervisor told me to accept my "post graduate diploma" because I wasn't allowed to petition for a resit. (Later I found that she only told me that because she told another student who also failed and I quote "We don't want to give our university a bad rep, therefore, we tell students that we don't allow them to do resubmit their dissertations."

    I was really mad at the point and immediately appealed for a resit. (Btw, only 2 other students failed as well and we were the only ones who did a quantitative research in our class. Everyone else who did qualitative passed). All 3 of us appealed, and the board took a couple of months but thankfully accepted our appeals and we were allowed to resubmit our dissertations. They told us that we were entitled to a new supervisor, however, the head of Business Psychology at our university (she was going to be our new examiner btw) told us that we were on our own and that no one would help us. We were scared to email the Board and tell them this because the head of Business would be grading our dissertations and frankly we didn't want to "piss her off".

    Regardless, I was determined to pass this time. I spent so much time working on my dissertation, improving the literature and analysis and made a couple of people proof read it and check it over many times. I really put a lot of effort this time. So imagine my utter shock when I failed again. The head of our program just gave me three extra points, so I was now a 45%. I still needed five points to pass. (the other two failed as well and their marks stayed the same). And just like my supervisor, the head of the Business Psychology didn't give me any kind of feedback, only a rubric with the "D section" highlighted again.

    I'm falling apart. I can't believe this happened again. I feel much worse than the first time. I gave it my best shot. It's really unfair because I was initially supervised by a professor who was incompetent and didn't understand a single thing in quantitative research. And when the Board agreed for a resit, I felt like God was giving me another chance. They told me that I was entitled to have another supervisor and that my university should arrange it. My university didn't and told us we won't supervise you and you're all on your own.

    I don't know what to do now. I refuse to accept a Postgraduate Diploma. All this hard work had gone to waste. I need to get my MSc but I really don't know what to do now. There is no form to fill for a second appeal. I don't even know if I have a case here. My university is very unhelpful and no one is listening to us.

    I'm really sorry for the long post guys but I feel really depressed. Is there any way I can appeal again? I really want to get my MSc
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    (Original post by satisfactionatlast)
    Hey guys. I'm feeling really miserable and I need your advice. In 2014, I started my MSc in Business Psychology. I was really excited and finished the program within a year. My professor/supervisor encouraged me to do a quantitative research instead of qualitative. I told her I wasn't good in stats at all and I would rather do qualitative, but she told me don't worry I'll help you throughout your thesis. So everyone in class but me and 2 others did quantitative.

    So throughout my thesis, i was supposed to use a software called SPSS which I really struggled with. My supervisor wasn't helpful at all and was on a long vacation and barely answered my emails on time. So I turned to Google and YouTube for help. I really tried my best learning what kinds of stats to use and how to analyze my data. My supervisor told me to use specific kinds of stats and assured me that they were enough (they weren't though and I only came to know of this once I failed). Before submitting my thesis, she told me not to worry and that my dissertation was "simple and to the point" and "quite good". (My supervisor was one of the examiners btw)

    Long story cut short, I failed. I got a freaking 42% and passing was at 50%. I was so depressed and when I talked to my supervisor, she told me your thesis was and I quote "really bad" and not at a postgraduate level. I felt betrayed. How could she have told me it was really good and then given me a 42%! And then she started laughing and told me that "you're just like me; you're just not cut for quantitative." I will never forget that laugh and those words; I've never felt so betrayed.

    I didn't even know how to respond or what to say. I really felt bad and miserable and I couldn't believe how a professor would do and say such a thing. She also didn't give me any feedback and didn't even tell me where I went wrong; she simply highlighted the "D section" in the rubric, and the head of the Business Psychology told us that that is the only feedback we would be getting. I was confused because i really wanted to know where I went wrong.

    My supervisor told me to accept my "post graduate diploma" because I wasn't allowed to petition for a resit. (Later I found that she only told me that because she told another student who also failed and I quote "We don't want to give our university a bad rep, therefore, we tell students that we don't allow them to do resubmit their dissertations."

    I was really mad at the point and immediately appealed for a resit. (Btw, only 2 other students failed as well and we were the only ones who did a quantitative research in our class. Everyone else who did qualitative passed). All 3 of us appealed, and the board took a couple of months but thankfully accepted our appeals and we were allowed to resubmit our dissertations. They told us that we were entitled to a new supervisor, however, the head of Business Psychology at our university (she was going to be our new examiner btw) told us that we were on our own and that no one would help us. We were scared to email the Board and tell them this because the head of Business would be grading our dissertations and frankly we didn't want to "piss her off".

    Regardless, I was determined to pass this time. I spent so much time working on my dissertation, improving the literature and analysis and made a couple of people proof read it and check it over many times. I really put a lot of effort this time. So imagine my utter shock when I failed again. The head of our program just gave me three extra points, so I was now a 45%. I still needed five points to pass. (the other two failed as well and their marks stayed the same). And just like my supervisor, the head of the Business Psychology didn't give me any kind of feedback, only a rubric with the "D section" highlighted again.

    I'm falling apart. I can't believe this happened again. I feel much worse than the first time. I gave it my best shot. It's really unfair because I was initially supervised by a professor who was incompetent and didn't understand a single thing in quantitative research. And when the Board agreed for a resit, I felt like God was giving me another chance. They told me that I was entitled to have another supervisor and that my university should arrange it. My university didn't and told us we won't supervise you and you're all on your own.

    I don't know what to do now. I refuse to accept a Postgraduate Diploma. All this hard work had gone to waste. I need to get my MSc but I really don't know what to do now. There is no form to fill for a second appeal. I don't even know if I have a case here. My university is very unhelpful and no one is listening to us.

    I'm really sorry for the long post guys but I feel really depressed. Is there any way I can appeal again? I really want to get my MSc
    Sounds bad. You should have asked us for help after the first fail, instead of leaving it ot this stage. I doubt there is anything any of us can do now. Why didn't you switch to qualitative after the first attempt?
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    refer to John 2054
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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    Confirm with your university in writing there is no further appeal.
    Talk to a student advisor at the student union.


    Then contact the Office of the independent adjudicator, probably good idea to do it with thers who failed. They cna consider your claim.
    They are allowed to look at matters of research supervision and unfair practices amongst other things.

    You will need evidence, decisions. e-mails etc.
    http://www.oiahe.org.uk/about-us/using-the-scheme.aspx
    http://www.oiahe.org.uk/making-a-com...complaint.aspx
    Given that she calls her lecturers professors, i think we can take it that the op is a us student okay?
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    (Original post by john2054)
    Given that she calls her lecturers professors, i think we can take it that the op is a us student okay?
    Oh do pardon me John for going to the trouble of trying to help.
    You feel free to deal with it.



    So now we know where the person studies and they ashould have included that from the start, then imo its the same as I posted previously.

    1. Talk to supervisors. If not happy then
    2. Follow official complaints procedure until exhausted. Sounds like its been done.
    3. Now this is where it becomes trickier. Normally you would then complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, but I was mistaken because these only cover England and Wales and obviously your Uni is Herriot Watt, which is Scotland.

    Scottish students complain to a different regulator called the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
    http://www.spso.org.uk/faqs#t58n6394
    but having looked at the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 it says you can only make a complaint if resident or had been resident in the UK. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2002/11/section/9

    You should contact them to confirm this.
    The contact form is here

    or you can contact them by freephone
    0800 377 7330

    So have done some more digging for you

    The correct people to complain to is the regulator in Dubai, which is
    Knowledge and Human Development Authority

    You can phone or visit them or use the e-feedback system
    https://www.khda.gov.ae/en/e-Feedback
    https://www.khda.gov.ae/en/contact-us?i=6

    Obviously my knowledge of UAE education regulation is limited, and the information isnt on the website about how their procedures work. I expect it will still fall within 4-6, byt you should really get a copy of the rules to see what they cna do and how you make a complaint. The wesbite is a bit sparse. It might be the Dubai Schools inspection Bureau within that.

    Just contact them, explain your situation and ask to eb forwarded to the relevant part of the regulator. Also find out what rules apply, what you cna complain about and what you have to do. The information is not on the website as far as i could see.

    4. They will check whether it falls within their remit. Unfair practices/ quality of supervision comes to mind.
    5. Submit a complaint.
    6. they review it and give you a ruling.



    Just to add. Your case is obviously a long and complex one. You have spent thousands paying fro the qualification so its best you get some formal advice imo at least from someone who knows the system and can make an objective assessment .
    That doesnt have to be a lawyer. An advisor at the SU (as suggested ) might be able to assist. if there is no SU in Dubai. I doubt the SU in the UK will know how to help you.
    http://www.hwunion.com/advice-hub/is...cademic-issues

    You need to be methodical in preparing your cases and collecting evidence. That is why you probably need assistance so you go through the procedures properly. If you do this then it will make it easier for going to the KHDA .

    The advantage of the KHDA is it should be free, they have experience and the Uni will have to take notice of a ruling in your favour. You managed to succeed at your first appeal, so you have some merit in your case, which is positive.
    HW will be keen to resolve a complaint being investigated by the official regulator as they must make a lot of money at the Dubai campus so its importnat for business to keep a good customer service record.

    You have to exhaust the internal complaints procedure first hence you need it confirmed from HW that you have done so, only then will the KHDA consider your case. In your shoes I would keep going with your complaint and appeal. Nothing to lose. You might have to accept the PG Dip, b but I would follow the other avenues first.

    There is one issue though and that is I doubt they can order HW to award you an MA especially if your submissions were not of an MA standard. You need to get it clear in your mind what you want and I would think that would be a finding you had been inadequately supervised in the resubmitted dissertation and you wnat the chance to resubmit along with getting adequate supervision from a new supervisor?

    That is something you are going to have to sort out with your advisor or between yourselves. If it were me I would pursue this as it doesnt cost anything as far as I know. be careful about hiring a lawyer as they cna be expensive, but you may need some assistance. Hopefully the KHDA will be helpful. I'd imagine if you are native Dubai citizens they will look after you.

    Thats as far as I can take it I think. Give them a ring and you can see whether they are the correct people to handle it and what they require you to do. I cant make any claim about the merits of your case and any comments are just from your version only. Someone else who gets to review all the evidence and hears both sides may say something different.
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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    Oh do pardon me John for going to the trouble of trying to help.
    You feel free to deal with it.
    i agree she needs help tigger, it's just that some uk web links aren't going to be much use for a usa based student okay?
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    (Original post by john2054)
    Sounds bad. You should have asked us for help after the first fail, instead of leaving it ot this stage. I doubt there is anything any of us can do now. Why didn't you switch to qualitative after the first attempt?
    We couldn't switch. We had to stick to the same topic and just improve on it
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    (Original post by john2054)
    Given that she calls her lecturers professors, i think we can take it that the op is a us student okay?
    My school and Bachelors all dealt with the American system. I've done my MSc in Heriot Watt at the branch in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
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    I feel like this thread is a dissertation.
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    (Original post by john2054)
    Given that she calls her lecturers professors, i think we can take it that the op is a us student okay?
    I do think OP is a US student, however we have professors here in the UK. Quite a few of my lecturers are Professors.
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    OP's nationality is irrelevant. What's relevant are the academic regulations for the university they're at.

    OP - you need to go through the regulations and seen whether you have any grounds for a complaint or other action. Probably with the help of someone from the student union. If the university has failed to follow their own rules, and from your post it sounds as if they might have, then you may have grounds for a complaint. Good luck.
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    That really is awful. If your supervisor has no clue about quantitative analysis and SPSS, and you have not previously learned about it, then I think it was awful that she pushed you to do it. If you had a module on quantitative analysis that would have been one thing!

    I think it's awful that she can get away with that, I mean you put a lot of money, time and effort into your masters, and your complete and utter lack of supervision cocked it up for you. I'd see if you can put a formal complaint in, try and speak to someone senior and see whether you can get supervision to resit. If the board allowed a resit, why can't the university.
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    (Original post by john2054)
    Given that she calls her lecturers professors, i think we can take it that the op is a us student okay?
    You get Professors in the UK? Professors are high ranking lecturers in their department, usually heads of research departments...
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    There are several possibilities here. One is that your work was weak and it was quite right for the university to fail you.

    Another possibility is that your work was not poor and that it has been incorrectly assessed You need to look carefully at the regulations of your institution to see whether you can appeal any further or ask for an independent remark, just in case it has been marked and graded incorrectly.

    There is nothing stopping you from trying to find an independent academic specialist to read your dissertation and to give you a written opinion. That could be quite difficult though.

    Another point is whether you were advised during your studies that you were unlikely to pass, given the standard of the work in progress.

    If the work in progress was not properly monitored, you may have a claim for negligence. In that case you would need legal advice and evidence. You say that you were given positive feedback at some stages: do you have that in writing?

    Another possibility, from what you've written, is that you were badly advised and that against your stated request, you were made to carry out quantitative research , which was not in your best interests. Of course that wouldn't make your work any better but perhaps you could get some compensation. You would need to talk to a solicitor and I'm not sure whether you'd make your claim in the UK or Dubai. You would need some evidence that you were poorly advised-do you have it? Is there anything is writing, say in emails?

    I wonder why you were encouraged to produce quantitative work. Could it be that the university external examiner expected to see some?
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    That "supervisor" is a bad reputation to the university. You should take this higher because I can't even imagine how frustrated you're feeling. If you somehow do get another chance or are allowed to change from quantitative, make sure you give it more than your all. That's hard but necessary because these examiners sound like pricks too.
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    For all situations like this the OP needs to talk to her University. No advice given here will be much use as none of us really understand the circumstances, course process or regulations at that particular Uni.


    To the OP - you need to go and see your Dean/Faculty Head and/or your Personal Tutor, and discuss the supervision you have had/not had in a calm and constructive manner. Be realistic about this discussion. You may have to accept a PG Dip, and should then think about why having an MSc was so important - ie. did you really 'need' it anyway or is it the fact that you failed that is really bugging you, not the qualification, or are you blaming the Uni for your own failure (this is always easier than being honest about your own ability). Only you can answer these questions, but just wailing and hitting out at the Uni isnt the answer. You have to be sensible, mature and calm about this. If you feel you have a real grievance about 'process' (not just 'I failed') and once you have had these discussions, you feel the overseas campus hasnt addressed this properly, then you should talk to the appropriate staff at Heriot Watt in Edinburgh.
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    Firstly gather up all the evidence you have for what happened (especially e-mails and things but a dated record of verbal meetings would be handy as well), then go straight to student services and tell them it's urgent and about improper postgraduate supervision leading to a failed dissertation (so you get sent to the most helpful person) and you want advice on your next steps. They'll be able to help you navigate the appropriate channels.

    The fact you state you "had to use this software called SPSS" says to me you recieved no training in it whatsoever which rings some alarm bells as it's pretty much the most standard piece of software for quantitative research in the social sciences. So I can only think you recieved zero quant training at all which is pretty appalling if they expect you to use it in your dissertation.
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    (Original post by monkyvirus)
    Firstly gather up all the evidence you have for what happened (especially e-mails and things but a dated record of verbal meetings would be handy as well), then go straight to student services and tell them it's urgent and about improper postgraduate supervision leading to a failed dissertation (so you get sent to the most helpful person) and you want advice on your next steps. They'll be able to help you navigate the appropriate channels.

    The fact you state you "had to use this software called SPSS" says to me you recieved no training in it whatsoever which rings some alarm bells as it's pretty much the most standard piece of software for quantitative research in the social sciences. So I can only think you recieved zero quant training at all which is pretty appalling if they expect you to use it in your dissertation.

    That's exactly what I thought. My lecturers say that most postgrads cock up their stats, and my uni places a much heavier emphasis on quantitative analysis, and I'm sure most post-grad qualifications run modules on SPSS. So I can't imagine having to do post-grad level stats without an ounce of training. I really feel for the OP.
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    (Original post by john2054)
    Sounds bad. You should have asked us for help after the first fail, instead of leaving it ot this stage. I doubt there is anything any of us can do now. Why didn't you switch to qualitative after the first attempt?
    Hi John2054 this is the other student, we actually did ask for help and no one was willing to do so, so we had to work it out amongst ourselves, other students and outside profs. We were also prohibited from switching to qualitative, and we can easily prove this in the emails we exchanged with our professors. Long story short, help was sought and no arm was extended.
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    Updated post #5 to what I believe is correct information and the correct regulator.
 
 
 
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