Oxford/RG unis - harsher grading? Watch

04MR17
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#41
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EDIT: What Minerva said tbh.
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Anagogic
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#42
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(Original post by Ol94)
gotta consult the stats if one could find them. but i would think if all exams and grading was equal the lower the uni the lower the pass rate. surely CCC students couldnt in general perform as well as the A*A*A* folks. but if the 2:1 rates were fairly equal then the classification would effectively be the uni ranking. but my bro goes to a uni about 60 places below and hes gonna get a 1st i got a 2:1 - even tho i got better a-level grades i dont think im anymore intelligent therefore wouldnt neccessary do better
Well the stats do tend to suggest this given that the universities with higher entry requirements will award more 2.1/1sts.

Just like with GCSE's to A levels people's motivations change and given the change in lifestyle and course structure it's quite possible for someone to do poorly at A level and to then go on to do well at undergrand and vice versa for those who performed well at A level may not fair so well at undergrad. Not that this is the norm but it does happen and I tend to find that it's an ego boost for those who didn't perform well to revert back to.
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username3959912
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(Original post by SerBronn)
It's obvious there's been some ghastly mistake in admitting you onto this course. You are completely stupid compared to everyone else and will fail miserably.

But seriously ... you're being very silly here. Enjoy the course but don't obsess over the work. It will be fine.
Damn, SerBronn is already taken.
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wheninarush
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#44
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I was in a similar situation - I got top of my year (in the whole history of the department in fact) and went to Oxford for Masters. Really hated it. The staff in my department at Oxford had very little time for me since they are all high flying academics. I wish I had stayed at my undergraduate uni and solidified my knowledge so that I would have had a solid grounding of my subject and was able to develop an idea for a Ph.D. thesis (good enough to attract a scholarship). This was just my experience. I always had a chip in my shoulder about not being accepted into Oxford for my undergrad. I certainly do not anymore. If you want to go on to do a Ph.D., when you approach a potential supervisor with your ideas, the thing that will matter most is the breadth and quality of your research. Where can you achieve that the best? Another question to ask: when do you have to hand in your end of year thesis? I had to hand in mine at the beginning of June. Most other unis give you until September. I personally would have liked the time to let my ideas marinate instead of just writing x amount of words to tick off a criteria. Some people, however, work best under pressure and may use their time more efficiently in a shorter time frame. I must add, some people really flourish there, especially if you have a good team of people to study with / exchange ideas with. I went in with the wrong attitude (I constantly sought out people who would confirm the oxbridge stereotype of arrogance and being clueless of the “real world”…) So, ultimately, it is what you make of it!
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Minerva
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(Original post by wheninarush)
I was in a similar situation - I got top of my year (in the whole history of the department in fact) and went to Oxford for Masters. Really hated it. The staff in my department at Oxford had very little time for me since they are all high flying academics. I wish I had stayed at my undergraduate uni and solidified my knowledge so that I would have had a solid grounding of my subject and was able to develop an idea for a Ph.D. thesis (good enough to attract a scholarship). This was just my experience. I always had a chip in my shoulder about not being accepted into Oxford for my undergrad. I certainly do not anymore. If you want to go on to do a Ph.D., when you approach a potential supervisor with your ideas, the thing that will matter most is the breadth and quality of your research. Where can you achieve that the best? Another question to ask: when do you have to hand in your end of year thesis? I had to hand in mine at the beginning of June. Most other unis give you until September. I personally would have liked the time to let my ideas marinate instead of just writing x amount of words to tick off a criteria. Some people, however, work best under pressure and may use their time more efficiently in a shorter time frame. I must add, some people really flourish there, especially if you have a good team of people to study with / exchange ideas with. I went in with the wrong attitude (I constantly sought out people who would confirm the oxbridge stereotype of arrogance and being clueless of the “real world”…) So, ultimately, it is what you make of it!
Absolutely. I'm sorry you had to learn that the hard way, and that you get to the PhD eventually even if it hasn't worked out just yet (it's never too late :tongue:)
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by am3liepoulain)
...
I'm just worried that Oxford is going to be a shock to the system. I'm expecting the intensity of the course and prepared to work hard, but I'm scared that even with hard work I might not be able to perform as well as I'm used to being able to, gradeswise, and get the distinction I want. I'd like to do a PhD one day and pursue a career in academia, so this means a lot to me.
I studied at Cambridge, did postgrad at other RGs, and currently teach in an ex-poly.

Standards are 100% different. A 1st from my current institution could well be a 2.1 at an RG, and maybe even a 2.2 at Oxbridge.

However, don't be too worried. 79% is an excellent grade, and good enough to do well at Oxford. Although it's true that they wouldn't accept you if they didn't think you could handle the course, it's also true that Masters courses are less selective than undergrad as you're essentially free money for them.

You may well find the pace and depth different. But use that as an excuse to challenge and develop yourself. It's a bit like going from league 1 to the Premier league: you need to do the same things to do well, it's just that everyone else will be good at them too. But this is not a bad thing. You have essentially given yourself the best chance of proving how good you are.

As for aiming for a distinction, that's great, but it's not a deal breaker in terms of PhDs and scholarships. Even an Oxford Masters pass will set you up well.
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am3liepoulain
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#47
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(Original post by chazwomaq)
I studied at Cambridge, did postgrad at other RGs, and currently teach in an ex-poly.

Standards are 100% different. A 1st from my current institution could well be a 2.1 at an RG, and maybe even a 2.2 at Oxbridge.

However, don't be too worried. 79% is an excellent grade, and good enough to do well at Oxford. Although it's true that they wouldn't accept you if they didn't think you could handle the course, it's also true that Masters courses are less selective than undergrad as you're essentially free money for them.

You may well find the pace and depth different. But use that as an excuse to challenge and develop yourself. It's a bit like going from league 1 to the Premier league: you need to do the same things to do well, it's just that everyone else will be good at them too. But this is not a bad thing. You have essentially given yourself the best chance of proving how good you are.

As for aiming for a distinction, that's great, but it's not a deal breaker in terms of PhDs and scholarships. Even an Oxford Masters pass will set you up well.
Boldened text mainly because money has been brought up several times in this thread: just to say, not necessarily, myself and one other person from my old uni (different course) were both given full scholarships including maintenance. Of course, that might not mean much in terms of how we perform when we get there, but I suppose at least it means Oxford must hold our degrees in high enough esteem to actually pay us to study there? (Fingers crossed they're not wrong...!) It's actually been my main source of reassurance, although I do feel the pressure to live up to it - in case you couldn't tell.

Thank very much for your kind words and insight (especially from someone with your experience). I will bear all of this in mind.

Thank you to all the other kind responses on here also, and good luck to everyone who's expressed similar worries.
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TempestLaw
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#48
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(Original post by TimmonaPortella)
I hope you won't take offence at my not quoting you in full, but I don't have the time to respond point-by-point, as I'd prefer to do. I have taken the time to read what you said.

What I would say is that, having taken the qualifying law degree at Cambridge, I have noticed the following things:

(1) Our course required, to a far greater extent than some other courses, based on papers that I've seen and people that I've spoken to, a full understanding of the materials for any particular exam. Thus, for instance, a given problem question in an equity paper might contain issues relating to trustees' powers, dishonest assistance, bribes, tracing, and maybe a bit of charities. It seems to me that on a lot of courses there is a much greater ability to cherry pick, enabled by the fact that there is more likely to be just a 'certainties problem', a 'charities problem', and so forth. Of course, for some papers we were able to drop some topics for the exam, but this had to be done carefully at the best of times, and for some papers, like equity, it wasn't really possible to drop anything at all.

(2) We seemed to cover more topics in any particular subject than people on some other courses. Thus, to continue with the same area of law, I know people on some courses did not cover charities and cy pres, or unincorporated associations.

(3) It seems to me that we were expected to have a much fuller understanding of and familiarity with the case law than people on some other courses. When I talked about supervisions at Cambridge to others, a lot of people seemed to find it pretty incredible that we were expected to have actually read, and be able to talk intelligently about, judgments given in the cases we were told to read, on a weekly basis (as opposed to just the couple of seminal cases in any particular area).

I will grant that I cannot measure the extent to which (3) is true, or, if it is, the extent to which it impacts actual grading on the basis of exam papers. I cannot evidence (2) particularly thoroughly either, other than to give that particular example off the top of my head. (1), though, I am convinced is a major factor in the difficulty of law exams.

I am unsure of the extent to which there are gradations of what we always referred to as 'dropability', my point (1), down through the universities, listed in terms of, say, entry requirements. I just know that ours seemed to differ markedly in this respect from the courses of many others I've spoken to about it. Perhaps you can address this point from experience.
No offence taken at all, it is nice of you to take the time to read my comment, it was rather lengthy

I will try to address each point as I have experienced

1-This is often dependant on how the paper is structured. Some universities make it a lot easier by splitting up the information to make it a bit more obvious what those issues will be rather than just picking one issue to cover. This is either in how the scenario is written, or how the questions are structures (e.g whether its one big question or multiple small ones). Others will expect a better level of case management and write a problem question without trying to lead the students, making them harder and better testing the student's ability to identify the issues. Regardless the basics needed to get a pass are normally consistent but I cannot say the same applies the higher up the grades get. Though its not the LLB, CILEx's papers are set by CILEx themselves and are supposed to meet the standard of the 'average LLB'. If you want an example of how some universities write their LLB law questions in a way that breaks down the topics so students might find it easier, the CILEx past papers are a good example of this. There is a debate as to whether this a quality of life aspect or simply making exams easier.

That being said I've never seen papers remodelled year by year than I have recently, which is adding to the inconsistency of papers across universities. It's nowhere near as large as inconsistency as people think, but I would say its enough of a difference for some debate at the higher levels of results. Something else to keep in mind is universities will externally mark universities outside of their respective groups (Russel group etc), and often only a general mark scheme along with competence criteria is given, but the marking is rarely far off from the internal second markers score

2-This you may be interested to know is very much true. It's dependant on both the department and the individual lecturer teaching, as some universities will go beyond the general syllabus needed to satisfy LLB requirements, which essentially exposing students to more information. Even if the general view of that module is to cover a certain amount of information, a lecturer can expand further if they wish. A practical reason why this is the case, though not an exclusive one, is universities will set different modules to be 'year long' and 'semester' long which greatly influences the amount to be covered, though the former is being relied upon less and less. Essentially, once the requirements set by the regulatory bodies are met, it is the discretion of that university as to what additional topics can be covered, regardless of how long the module will go for.

3-Yes, once more I would say you were right on this as well. It depends on the university and they take different approaches to how much of the case law students are expected to learn. Many will ask students to fully read up on judgements and be able to refer to each each judge and their input. Others may just want a general understanding of the case and its facts. At universities that require higher entry grades I would say the practice of expecting students to read entire cases for seminars is pretty standard, but a lot of other universities do this too, though not always consistently, and I've generally seen this to be at the discretion of the module leader/tutors
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shaunnaob
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#49
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I think it varies massively course to course. I'm at Nottingham doing film and TV and no one in my year has ever scored past 78. I usually get 72ish and there are rarely many comments for improvement, we just kind of accept that that's as good as it gets. In contrast, I know a girl at Trent who's work is very poor (her grammar is horrific, referencing poor and she never really explains her concepts, just describes them) and she still manages to get low 2.1s in most things. However if you're scoring 79 at the non RG your probably still be getting firsts at a RG so I wouldn't worry x
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by am3liepoulain)
myself and one other person from my old uni (different course) were both given full scholarships including maintenance.
That makes a difference IMO. It means they really think you will thrive on the course. There will be very smart people doing your course, and they think you are the top of the bunch to give you a scholarship. All the more reason to not doubt yourself and take the chance to prove Oxford right by doing well.

So when things feel hard, remember that pain is weakness leaving the body!
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HAPPY:
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(Original post by am3liepoulain)
I'm a graduate student set to start a masters degree at Oxford in October. I did my undergraduate degree at a non-Russell Group university; while I had an amazing time there, I have the utmost respect for all the lecturers I had there, and I absolutely adored my course, this does make me feel a little anxious and unprepared. Everyone I met at the open day had studied at Oxbridge, Durham, York, et cetera. I didn't even meet one other person from a non-RG university - while I'm sure they were there, they were definitely a minority, at least for my course.

That being said, I won't be modest and say I didn't do well in my undergrad degree. I scored top of my year for three years straight and achieved a final grade of 79% in a humanities degree, so I'm very proud of myself for that. However, I was talking to some other, clearly intelligent, people who had offers who were saying how difficult they found it to get firsts on their courses, and it sounded like grades of 80+% were unheard of. I'm not saying everyone got firsts all the time at my uni - most people got the standard 2:1s - but I do know quite a few people who consistently managed firsts, including the occasional 80+%, and I never personally found it difficult to do well as long as I put some decent work in. It just seemed like other people's courses were more difficult to do well in.

I'm just worried that Oxford is going to be a shock to the system. I'm expecting the intensity of the course and prepared to work hard, but I'm scared that even with hard work I might not be able to perform as well as I'm used to being able to, gradeswise, and get the distinction I want. I'd like to do a PhD one day and pursue a career in academia, so this means a lot to me.

That being said, the lecturer who graded my work in my soon-to-be specialist area used to work at Oxford herself, and surely wouldn't mark any more leniently at one institution than she would have at a previous one?

Has anyone been in a similar situation, or have any advice? 😊

Please watch this video. It will answer your question:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZHvK5UvIKQ
I think you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome, which is natural to feel when transfering Unis. The speakers in the video provide advice on handling lack of self-confidence during the crucial time - when we feel less than we truly are - and they show you how. Good luck!
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Hey guys! This is the OP - I forgot my old login details. I just remembered making this post about a year ago, so thought I'd post an update in case there are any TSR users going through something similar at the moment. I've just finished my year at Oxford and got my results. The experience was...absolutely incredible. Oxford definitely exceeded all expectations. It was the MOST exciting place to live and study, and I made so, so many friends for life. Regardless of my academic experience, I couldn't regret a thing after the year I've had.

Academically...to be honest, the overall experience was not as stressful as I was expecting it to be. At my undergrad uni, I was used to having a few essays due at the end of each term that would contribute to my final grade, with perhaps one or two formative assessments throughout term. My masters degree was pretty much the same, although the assignments were much longer; for Hilary term (spring term), I had to write two 7000 word essays, so I essentially had a term to write almost two undergraduate dissertations! Honestly, though, the other terms weren't that bad. In fact, I made friends who had done their undergrad at Oxbridge who actually found the 'layout' of the course more difficult to adjust to than I did, because, as they explained, they were for the most part used to churning out many shorter essays week after week rather than working towards one or two 'big' assignments due at the end of term. I did have one module where we were expected to write unassessed essays each week, and I really struggled with that, but this was mostly because we had to share them with the whole class via email, and I was still struggling a lot with my self-esteem and didn't want to feel judged by the others. However, once I'd gotten to know them, my coursemates were honestly some of the loveliest people I've ever, ever met. By the time I was presenting my dissertation work at the end of the year, I felt no such judgement - we were all there to support each other no matter what. (That being said, you *will* meet a few people at Oxbridge intent on making other people feel small. Ignore them. It comes from a place of insecurity. Surround yourself with the people who are kind; there are, contrary to stereotypes, the majority.)

However, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. I was not expecting to be the smartest person in the class by a long shot, but I don't think I was prepared for just HOW clever my classmates would be. I was (and still am) absolutely in awe of the fact that so many frighteningly intelligent people could possibly be found in one place. When they spoke up in class, the words that came out of their mouths were more insightful and eloquently formed than the content of any essay I'd spent weeks producing. Even after I'd overcome my fear of judgement, I still really struggled with speaking up in class, simply because I felt my contributions were worthless by comparison, so what was the point? If I could go back, though, I'd probably try a little harder to speak up. You can only do your best, at the end of the day.

As for my marks, I actually did pretty well in the end. I got a distinction in all of my assignments bar one (including assignments that didn't contribute to my overall grade). However, they were - as to be expected - much lower distinctions than I was accustomed to. My final marks were 71, 71, 65 and 72, with the 72 in the dissertation. (The essay that got 65 was submitted a couple of days after the funeral of a friend/coursemate, and that amongst other things really took a toll on my mental health at the time, so even 65% was an achievement, really. We were all struggling a lot.) Unfortunately, for my course, the dissertation was given the same weighting as my essays (which in my opinion is absurd, but there you go) so I graduated with.......69.75%. Oxford don't round their grades up, apparently, so I'm graduating with a merit. (I don't think I will ever recover from my frustration with this grade...so very close and yet so very far. :cry2:) But realistically, I know I did quite well, and from what I can tell, my results were actually better than most (though everyone did pretty well, and I'm proud of all my coursemates) - despite being the only person in my whole class who didn't attend a RG uni at undergrad. So there you have it!

If I were to give any advice to people in the same situation as I was this time last year, it would be not to take Oxbridge feedback too much to heart. If I did well in an essay at undergrad - which I basically always did - the feedback would be accordingly positive, with perhaps the occasional piece of constructive criticism, and those were usually minor. (I'm not saying this was altogether a good thing; I often wished for more suggestions for improvement, but my point is that I was not prepared for crushing feedback in the slightest.) Oxford markers, however, can sometimes be downright cruel, even if their feedback is far more conducive to improvement. For my dissertation, for example, I received a whole page of feedback that essentially criticised *every single aspect* of the work without pause for praise. If I'd been handed that feedback at my undergrad uni, it would been attached to a piece of work that had failed - *badly* - and even then would have been considered unkindly phrased. Then, at the very end of the page, was one complimentary sentence: "That said, this is clearly very impressive work, and the candidate is to be congratulated." :stupid: They gave me a distinction. Having developed a thicker skin throughout the year, the feedback actually made me laugh - you just become accustomed to the new standard. So don't take it to heart in the slightest! I say this partly because we received our written feedback months before our numerical grades, so you can imagine the kind of anxiety this induced.

Anyway, sorry for the lengthy post, but after all the advice I received this time last year, I thought it only fair to pass on the favour! Sorry for my rambling style of writing - I'm writing this in a bit of a rush. x
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