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How hard are degrees... watch

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    It depends on your subject but I'd say on the whole my degree is a lot easier than A Levels. The level of analysis is clearly higher, but the workload is far less.
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    It depends on what your studying and where your studying it. The general opinion of people I spoke to is that the jump from GCSE to A level is quite large for some, but the jump from A level to degree is not so bad. As always this depends on the person, the degree and where they are studying it.
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    The truth is that people with far greater knowledge and understanding than undergrads are the only ones whose opinion matters - my lecturers would feel rather aggreived if I started spouting my opinion in an essay when I haven't done the research like them. But that's an aside.
    It's true that it's important to show awareness of other critics in your essay and to research them thoroughly so that you can form your own opinion, but the whole point of the essay is to critique those opinions using your own. An essay which just sums up the major points of what other people have said would get a rubbish mark.
    But anyway, that's deviating from the op
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    (Original post by RJ555)
    In comparison with A-Levels? Im just interested to know really.

    Ive always had in my head that its something like this:

    1:1 - A+ (at alevel)
    2:1 - A-B
    2:2 - B
    Third - B-C

    Im probably being a tad naive, and I know it depends on the persons interest for the subject, the particular course etc but i just wanted a general idea. Enlighten me! :p:
    I think it totally depends on the degree. I've only ever done medicine so I can only comment upon it and it's not even comparable to A-Levels, the volume of work is like doing an A-Level every week/few weeks. Aside from the volume of work, with A-Levels you have a syllabus with everything you need to know, and once you've gone through it all, you know you'll be ok (combined with looking at previous exam papers which are always going to be very similar to the paper you actually sit). With medicine anyway, there's no syllabus as such so you can never say "well i know everything there is to know about the neuroscience topic" for example because it's not like that and the exam papers are always very different (mainly multiple choice answers which is also very different to A-Level and more tricky than I'd ever have imagined)!
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    degrees are harder than A levels in the sense that they require you to think differently (you cant learn stufff parrot fashion like you do at A level you got to actually understand it). Furthermore although you may only have 3 or 4 lectures a week you have a lot of coursework, reading etc to do in you own time, so managing your time is key when doing a degree.
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    The arts is all about opinion - but about the opinion of others whilst you develop the skills to form your own. The truth is that people with far greater knowledge and understanding than undergrads are the only ones whose opinion matters - my lecturers would feel rather aggreived if I started spouting my opinion in an essay when I haven't done the research like them. But that's an aside.
    This is wrong on so many levels. The idea is to understand the opinions of experts while crafting your own argument, which is essentially expressing your own opinion. You're not going to get a 1st by regurgitating others' opinions. Your lectures are going to be bored to death if you don't give your own opinion and just give those of others; they know what other Historians think, they want to know what you think. They’re not going to feel aggrieved either; they’re not 12 year olds. They’d prefer you to try and destroy their life’s research in an essay, even if you don’t get very far, than repeat it.

    From my module handbook: ‘70-75 The essay may develop ideas which are original, and should be structured in a way which enables the development of independent lines of thought in a compelling and coherent manner.’
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    How can you support your half-baked ideas without evidence from journal articles, ideas of experts? This is why independent ideas mainly find their place in dissertations. The module handbook says 'may develop' - it is not expected.
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    How can you support your half-baked ideas without evidence from journal articles, ideas of experts? This is why independent ideas mainly find their place in dissertations. The module handbook says 'may develop' - it is not expected.
    I don't think they have to be fully formed at the essay stage do they? Anyway I thought all work was supposed to be properly referenced?
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    How can you support your half-baked ideas without evidence from journal articles, ideas of experts?
    What do you mean, "half-baked"? Obviously a good essay will have to contain references that back up your points and show how you arrived at your views, but that doesn't mean you can't argue a point that's quite different from what the "experts" are arguing - as long as you do so convincingly. Even if it isn't fully developed yet.
    This is why independent ideas mainly find their place in dissertations.
    Erm, how exactly did you arrive at that conclusion?:confused: As I said, as long as you've got a sound base for your points, you can be as original as you like even in a short coursework essay. Obviously you don't have to be original, but you're not obliged to be boring either. Ask your tutor whether he'd prefer to read a competent well-researched but dull essay, which is more or less identical to dozens of other student essays he has read, or an essay that is equally competent and well-researched but looks at things from a slightly more unconventional angle. I think it's pretty obvious what his reply will be.
    The module handbook says 'may develop' - it is not expected.
    Of course it isn't expected, but it's one of the criteria for a very good essay.
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    If it is well-researched then it is going to have its basis in other experts ideas and this is the point I was making - not that you couldn't argue things from an unconventional stand-point.

    You sound like you have been watching too much of the History Boys. My tutor started the year by saying that the only way to do write a good essay was to stick to the status quo until you are good enough to craft your own ideas fully - this is why I was saying that original ideas belong in the dissertation.
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    If it is well-researched then it is going to have its basis in other experts ideas and this is the point I was making - not that you couldn't argue things from an unconventional stand-point.
    Precisely. The basis for your opinion will partly lie in other research conducted up to now. And exactly the same might be said for any of those experts you keep referring to, so I don't really see why your opinions should be considered less valid by your tutors just because your points haven't been published in a dozen different journal and the experts' have.
    You sound like you have been watching too much of the History Boys.
    I've never watched it, actually.
    My tutor started the year by saying that the only way to do write a good essay was to stick to the status quo until you are good enough to craft your own ideas fully - this is why I was saying that original ideas belong in the dissertation.
    Your tutor sounds a bit odd. How are you supposed to learn to craft your own ideas fully at the end of your degree if you just spend three years rehashing other people's?:confused:
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    How can you support your half-baked ideas without evidence from journal articles, ideas of experts?
    Of course your arguments and opinions are affected by those of experts, but that doesn't stop them being creative and original. Experts and journal articles form their ideas on the basis of other experts and journal articles, not just primary research.

    This is why independent ideas mainly find their place in dissertations. The module handbook says 'may develop' - it is not expected.
    It's not required but that doesn't stop it being desirable and getting you higher marks.

    For example, to get 76-80 it is required that ‘work should show an independent approach to the question’.

    If it is well-researched then it is going to have its basis in other experts ideas and this is the point I was making - not that you couldn't argue things from an unconventional stand-point.
    Which is essentially what originality is?

    You sound like you have been watching too much of the History Boys. My tutor started the year by saying that the only way to do write a good essay was to stick to the status quo until you are good enough to craft your own ideas fully - this is why I was saying that original ideas belong in the dissertation.
    Not to sound too offensive, but that sounds like an awful tutor.

    Purely out of interest, which uni are you at?

    Also, the History Boys is probably one of the best preparations for university History. I'd recommend that everyone watch it before starting History degress. I've heard an Oxford History tutor recommend it to answer the question ‘How do I prepare for an interview?’
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    If it is well-researched then it is going to have its basis in other experts ideas and this is the point I was making - not that you couldn't argue things from an unconventional stand-point.
    Yes, it will- but the COMBINATION of ideas should be your own. It's unlikely that you're going to be able to argue things didn't happen, or come up with a magnificent new theory. Instead, you have to reassess what others have said and make your own conclusions a composite.

    A composite they may be, but they can be original. Of course it has its basis in others' research, but the combination and the conclusion, and the way you treat the essay because it is an x-thousand word argument about why you're right, all point towards your own original conclusion.

    You should do this at A-Level, if not GCSE. It's just that at degree level you're far better-informed and can think in a far better way, so your conclusions are likely to be argued in a more sophisticated way. You just have to develop the skill, if not the arrogance and assertiveness, to put forward your own point of view and to argue your corner. If one merely rehashes the ideas of other academics, and comes to no conclusion or has no argument of one's own, that's barely a Third.


    You sound like you have been watching too much of the History Boys.
    No such thing as too much. :p:

    My tutor started the year by saying that the only way to do write a good essay was to stick to the status quo until you are good enough to craft your own ideas fully - this is why I was saying that original ideas belong in the dissertation.
    I feel that you're misinterpreting your tutor. I think that he or she was urging intellectual caution, not flamboyance, rather than dissuading you from making any conclusions; basically, your own originally thought-out conclusion shouldn't be too wacky. It's when you get up to dissertation level that you can do your own research and come up with fully original theses. I think you've overstated your argument; original ideas should be present throughout the work you do at university. These ideas are composites of the ideas of others, but they should be yours and you should think in making them. By dissertation level, then- as you become a specialist- you can argue the ideas from your own primary evidence, rather than that of others.

    (Original post by hobnob)
    I've never watched it, actually.
    You should, it's great.
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    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    I don't think they have to be fully formed at the essay stage do they? Anyway I thought all work was supposed to be properly referenced?
    Depends, we've been told that for third year work it's not uncommon for not having as many references as say a second year assignment. For the dissertation think it depends on the area of research - I know someone who's arguing for something that's never been argued before.

    Our mark schemes actually ask for originality to get you a high 2:1, let alone a first!
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    Perhaps this originality thing is just a History thing but none of our markschemes (languages) at University of Manchester require it for higher marks (in fact as I say it is actively discouraged in earlier years). I agree with it in that you do not have enough knowledge to be able to concot your own ideas and it is insulting to tutors to think that you can come up with better ideas when their lives work has been devoted to the study and you are just an undergrad upstart.

    My tutor is fantastic and i haven't misinterpreted him - I think he is perhaps fed up of seeing people think their 'opinion' is all that important.
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    Wow, good thing im not studying History. Sounds like the phrase "Standing on the shoulders of giants" doesn't apply,.
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    (Original post by kftjkp)
    Perhaps this originality thing is just a History thing but none of our markschemes (languages) at University of Manchester require it for higher marks (in fact as I say it is actively discouraged in earlier years). I agree with it in that you do not have enough knowledge to be able to concot your own ideas and it is insulting to tutors to think that you can come up with better ideas when their lives work has been devoted to the study and you are just an undergrad upstart.
    Maybe it is limited to History. Certainly, for this subject, you have to get over the fact that in terms of knowledge and in-depth thinking you're not going to have the same experience as the people you're meant to be critiquing.

    The thing is, even learned professors disagree academically, and all the time- else there wouldn't be a discipline. They generally disagree not over the "facts" (to the extent that there ever can be "facts" in History) but rather over the significance and interpretation of those facts.

    History is a great degree in terms of developing confidence and the ability to bull****. You have to have the confidence to be able to stand up to, in effect, these learned academics, consider your own learned opinion, and to strongly argue as to why you're right and they're wrong. It's how the discipline works.
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    I doubt you can correlate A level grades into the university system.

    Not sure what the percentages are at A level, but at my University (and I'm pretty sure it's the same elsewhere) the grading system works like this

    1st = > 69%
    2:1 = > 59%
    2:2 = > 49%
    3rd = > 39%
    Fail = < 39%
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    Mine is 1% higher than yours in all classes, so:

    1st = >70%
    2.1 = > 60%

    etc...
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    Also 30-39% are a compensatable fail (i.e no need for a re-sit if you get that in a non-core module and you have relatively high average).
 
 
 
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