Are "personal reasons" in a PS acceptable explanations for module failures? Watch

BillMurray
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#1
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#1
Hi there,

Long story short, I graduated with merit two years ago on a CS conversion MSc, now I'm applying to study a MSc Artificial Intelligence degree. When I enquired about entry requirements for the course, the department requested my transcripts, so I think they did see my failures on the transcript and then wrote back saying:


“We can make an offer even is the candidate has only a conversion MSc, proven that he has experience in programming and possess some knowledge in mathematics.

Therefore, if you meet the above then we would very much welcome an application from you."

I'm struggling to explain my failures in my personal statement, I'm hoping someone here can advice me. I have a capped grade, but I got 72% in my resit exam, so I can explain that one.

But I also got a 42% tolerated fail in the algorithms and data structures module, no credit awarded for that module as a result.

Since graduating I have gone over the material and I feel I understand it now. Should I simply not mention it? I don't really have a sufficient explanation for it, I'm tempted to just put "personal reasons", or "family emergency" as an explanation. Would that suffice?

Or should I go into some detail about how I couldn't engage with that module due to the fact I was not prepared, I dropped a module in the first semester and thus I had extra workload in the second semester when this module ran, plus I was having trouble with my love life and was very distracted< that is genuinely the reason, not kidding, obviously I won't put that on my PS

Thanks for reading, any advice would be most appreciated.
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jl.simon
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(Original post by BillMurray)
Hi there,

Long story short, I graduated with merit two years ago on a CS conversion MSc, now I'm applying to study a MSc Artificial Intelligence degree. When I enquired about entry requirements for the course, the department requested my transcripts, so I think they did see my failures on the transcript and then wrote back saying:


“We can make an offer even is the candidate has only a conversion MSc, proven that he has experience in programming and possess some knowledge in mathematics.

Therefore, if you meet the above then we would very much welcome an application from you."

I'm struggling to explain my failures in my personal statement, I'm hoping someone here can advice me. I have a capped grade, but I got 72% in my resit exam, so I can explain that one.

But I also got a 42% tolerated fail in the algorithms and data structures module, no credit awarded for that module as a result.

Since graduating I have gone over the material and I feel I understand it now. Should I simply not mention it? I don't really have a sufficient explanation for it, I'm tempted to just put "personal reasons", or "family emergency" as an explanation. Would that suffice?

Or should I go into some detail about how I couldn't engage with that module due to the fact I was not prepared, I dropped a module in the first semester and thus I had extra workload in the second semester when this module ran, plus I was having trouble with my love life and was very distracted< that is genuinely the reason, not kidding, obviously I won't put that on my PS

Thanks for reading, any advice would be most appreciated.
Hi Bill,

I'm a PhD student and I did a little research on how to write stuff for university programs before applying. Please see that I'm no specialist, but if I was in your shoes, what I would do is try to transform my failure in a positive experience. How? I would not explain why I failed but instead use the experience to explain how I overcome that gap in my knowledge by searching for the information myself (you can cite sources if you have). EVERYBODY FAILS at some point. If they feel you learned with that experience and it improved yourself they will definitely see you as a better candidate. Plus a positive attitude towards failing goes a long way showing your resilience.

Hope it helped.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by BillMurray)
.......................
Answer the question they asked - demonstrate you have experience in programming and possess some knowledge in mathematics.

Don't justify failures, it just highlights them.
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BillMurray
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(Original post by jl.simon)
Hi Bill,

I'm a PhD student and I did a little research on how to write stuff for university programs before applying. Please see that I'm no specialist, but if I was in your shoes, what I would do is try to transform my failure in a positive experience. How? I would not explain why I failed but instead use the experience to explain how I overcome that gap in my knowledge by searching for the information myself (you can cite sources if you have). EVERYBODY FAILS at some point. If they feel you learned with that experience and it improved yourself they will definitely see you as a better candidate. Plus a positive attitude towards failing goes a long way showing your resilience.

Hope it helped.
Thanks! That definitely helps. I have considered that route for sure, outlining how it was a conversion course I went from Politics to Computer Science, and that I had to teach myself the necessary mathematics alongside the course. As far as sources go, I have gone over the course textbook. I suppose I could cite that.
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BillMurray
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Answer the question they asked - demonstrate you have experience in programming and possess some knowledge in mathematics.

Don't justify failures, it just highlights them.
Yes, I think this is the better idea. As a side note, how would one "demonstrate some knowledge in mathematics" within a personal statement?

That is another thing that is making me somewhat nervous. The course doesn't specify any qualifications in mathematics as an entry requirement, which is good, because I don't have any! Not even a GCSE in maths at grade C or above.

But my knowledge of maths is there, self taught. The course doesn't start until next September but I think I'll be up to A-level/1st year university standard by the end of this year. Not quite sure how to word that in a PS. I could be lying at the end of the day.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by BillMurray)
Yes, I think this is the better idea. As a side note, how would one "demonstrate some knowledge in mathematics" within a personal statement?

That is another thing that is making me somewhat nervous. The course doesn't specify any qualifications in mathematics as an entry requirement, which is good, because I don't have any! Not even a GCSE in maths at grade C or above.

But my knowledge of maths is there, self taught. The course doesn't start until next September but I think I'll be up to A-level/1st year university standard by the end of this year. Not quite sure how to word that in a PS. I could be lying at the end of the day.
You need to sign up for an OU module asap then and then say you are studying the module. Universities (and jobs) need evidence, not wishful thinking and confidence.
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