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MA/MSc difficulty level - passing/failing watch

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    I was just wondering what people's thoughts were on the difficulty of study at masters level (taught), and in general what the pass rate is?

    I know it's hard to say given the wide range of courses/universities, but from people's experiences, what did you find?

    It's not so much the workload that bothers me - I expect (and hope!) to be a lot busier than I was at undergrad - but I'm terrified that there is going to be a big jump in terms of the content studied, and that I'm not going to be able to cope with the difficulty level of the work...and consequently fail!

    Has anyone got any experiences/thoughts on this to share?
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    On my Masters (MSt English at Oxford), the level of work wasn't exactly harder (the teaching, for example, was pretty much the same), but it was a lot harder to get the kind of marks I'd been used to at undergrad. There is a definite step up in the level of marking, so what would have been an 80 at undergrad is suddenly a 70 at Master's level, making it a lot harder to get a Master's Distinction than a Bachelor's level First. Also, most Master's pass levels are set at 60 (though I think some are 50), so the bar is higher, and you definitely get the sense that there's no safety net - every piece of work has to be up to standard. The workload itself was technically less than, say, third year undergrad level, but the expectation was a lot higher, so you couldn't just blag or fluke your way to a good mark like you sometimes can as an undergrad.

    I don't really know about pass rates and so on, but in the English cohort at Ox last year, nobody failed, and about half got Distinctions. These were competitive courses though, so I'm guessing the pass rate is a lot lower than that elsewhere.
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    Some of the content is way above what I did in my undergrad while others are just different, but as long as I work hard I can understand it. The problem is the organisation of my masters. Little time is allowed for revision, like for the last course test, stuff completely irrelevant to the rest of the course was covered intensely in the week before it and I also had to revise for a 3 day practical exam which started today. So I didn't much time to revise for the course test. They try to cram as much as possible, making it like a 3 year course squeezed into a year. It's quite intense but rewarding.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    Also, most Master's pass levels are set at 60 (though I think some are 50), so the bar is higher, and you definitely get the sense that there's no safety net - every piece of work has to be up to standard. The workload itself was technically less than, say, third year undergrad level, but the expectation was a lot higher, so you couldn't just blag or fluke your way to a good mark like you sometimes can as an undergrad.
    At York it's 50.
    To be honest, I haven't really found things massively more difficult or challenging so far (which means that I probably won't change my opinion on that anymore, since I'll be spending the last term writing the dissertation), which was perhaps a little disappointing. I wouldn't really say I've been busier either; in fact, I had a lot more time to spare than during my undergraduate degree, because there was less reading and we didn't have to write essays every week. On the one hand that's nice, of course, but on the other hand I do miss the stress, actually. I like stress (even though I moan about it like everybody else), and I work better when stressed.
    Speaking of which: I should really go and finish my essays. Ugh.

    Edit: by the way, alba, I think the OP meant "pass rate" as in those who don't fail rather than those who fail to get a distinction.
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    The structure of each programme and the modules you take could be a factor in your overall result as well. My programme has the option of taking a modern language in addition to a required medieval language, something which would be worthwhile but potentially suicidal to many students. I doubt most of the respectable universities will fail many students without good cause though - it would be bad for their reputation (and probably their funding chances?).

    And a 50 is a pass at UCL as well.
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    50% is a pass on my course as well,

    Failing is to do with standard of work, lecturers don't let students pass out of the goodness of their heart, as I have found with someone on my course....
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    My course has a 40% pass mark.
    In relation to my undergraduate course, I'd say it's about the same difficulty, my marks are mostly the same/higher than I got for my first degree.
    Obviously, it does depend on the subject though, and whether you are doing the same or a different one than you've studied before.
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    Hmm, I'm not sure what the pass mark is at Nottingham. My subject area (business/marketing) is completely different to what I studied at undergrad, however the course does ask for some knowledge of the subject, so it isn't introductory.

    Judging by responses on here it seems the workload will vary massively between courses. And hobnob - I completely agree! I always work much better under pressure.

    What the_alba said is slightly worrying - if this was true, and I was averaging say 65% at undergrad, then this would equate to the mark of 55% at masters level... which is added on top of the fact that the work may be more difficult and so I may not perform as well...

    :eek:
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    (Original post by shell_xx)

    What the_alba said is slightly worrying - if this was true, and I was averaging say 65% at undergrad, then this would equate to the mark of 55% at masters level... which is added on top of the fact that the work may be more difficult and so I may not perform as well...

    :eek:
    Well, it seems my Master's is the only one so far on this thread with a pass mark of 60, so yours will probably be lower. The marking scheme on my Master's was very harsh all round - there was also a rule that, to get a Distinction, no mark could drop below 66, and the thesis had to be at least 70. That's Oxford for you :rolleyes: (though I think the thesis > 70 thing is pretty common for MA Distinctions).
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    Well, it seems my Master's is the only one so far on this thread with a pass mark of 60, so yours will probably be lower. The marking scheme on my Master's was very harsh all round - there was also a rule that, to get a Distinction, no mark could drop below 66, and the thesis had to be at least 70. That's Oxford for you :rolleyes: (though I think the thesis > 70 thing is pretty common for MA Distinctions).
    I think so... Then again, seeing as it often seems to count for about half of the mark anyway, it probably makes sense.
    As for strictness in marking, rumour has it that one person in my year (doing another course, though) wrote an essay that was given a mark in the 70s by one examiner and a mark in the 30s by the other, and they ended up agreeing on something in the mid to high 50s. Scary.
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    The MSt (one-year version) of my course requires a 50 to pass. The MPhil (2-year course) is 60. I know that people have failed my course before but I don't know the exact proportions. Hence why all I want to do is pass really...anything else is a bonus
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    I think so... Then again, seeing as it often seems to count for about half of the mark anyway, it probably makes sense.
    As for strictness in marking, rumour has it that one person in my year (doing another course, though) wrote an essay that was given a mark in the 70s by one examiner and a mark in the 30s by the other, and they ended up agreeing on something in the mid to high 50s. Scary.
    I hate when that kind of thing happens - it makes you lose all faith in the system. Usually they bring a third examiner in to settle those kinds of disputes though. There must have been some (perceived) rubric violation involved for the marks to be to disparate, I guess.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    I hate when that kind of thing happens - it makes you lose all faith in the system. Usually they bring a third examiner in to settle those kinds of disputes though. There must have been some (perceived) rubric violation involved for the marks to be to disparate, I guess.
    I suppose so - it's the only possible explanation, really, but even then a fail is a bit of a harsh mark to give. The final mark may well have come from a third examiner, actually, but as I said, I only know about this through hearsay.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    Well, it seems my Master's is the only one so far on this thread with a pass mark of 60, so yours will probably be lower. The marking scheme on my Master's was very harsh all round - there was also a rule that, to get a Distinction, no mark could drop below 66, and the thesis had to be at least 70. That's Oxford for you :rolleyes: (though I think the thesis > 70 thing is pretty common for MA Distinctions).

    Hmm, I did mine in Canada which mean a bit of fudging with the GPA conversion but to get a distinction I needed a GPA of 4.2 - 4.3, which is pretty much 90% and above (and that across the board). Oh, in case people quibble, in Nova Scotia the GPA is 4.3 maximum not 4.0 for some reason! Oh and distinction from the examiners is determined by a viva at the end as well as the thesis itself. Was great fun though, it really kept you going.
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    (Original post by Angelil)
    The MSt (one-year version) of my course requires a 50 to pass. The MPhil (2-year course) is 60. I know that people have failed my course before but I don't know the exact proportions. Hence why all I want to do is pass really...anything else is a bonus
    If people are failing on my course they are put on the diploma programme, which is more of less the same but without the dissertation and it's 40% to pass. This has happened with people in the past and someone in my class is now on that route.
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    Mine for next year has the pass mark of 50.

    Distinction is awarded when the modules average 70+ with no mark falling below 60 and the dissertation is awared 70+
 
 
 

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