MSc dissertation disaster - would you pack it in?

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pkpickles
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Hello, I've got myself into a bit of a mess with my MSc and thought I'd try and canvas for opinion about whether to pack the whole thing in and accept a PgDip. Sorry for the length of the post, fully understand if nobody wants to read it!

I started my part-time distance learning MSc a couple of years ago but had to take a year off due to both of my parents dying in quick succession. Before I took the time off, the university refused to grant me mitigating circumstances for one of my modules despite my father being terminally ill in hospital (I appealed that decision and it failed) so that module was capped at 50.

I then resumed my studies last year and almost immediately got made redundant from my job of 9 years, which rattled me a fair bit. I decided to not immediately go back into work and continue with the MSc while sorting my head out, with the intention of the MSc being the explanation for the year's gap in my CV. Unfortunately, this year has been a bit of a nightmare in terms of my mental health and a brief period of semi-alcoholism, so I've not really achieved what I'd hoped with my studies. Every module essay has been a last-minute stressful job and I've ended up with 74/50/66/68/73/66 across the six modules.

I'm told this means I need at least 78 in my research dissertation to get a Distinction and at least 60 to get a Merit. I've got to hand it in on the 10th of this month after getting an extension and I've only written 6,500 words out of a total of 15,000 (+/- 10%). So far I've only done the literature review; I did some of the actual research back in April/May but then pretty much gave up, and spent the subsequent months struggling to find the motivation to actually do it, while also panicking about the fact that I wasn't doing it, and getting pissed quite a lot.

I have a feeling the dissertation is going to be terrible. What I've written is a good starting point for a lit review but needs about a month's tweaking. I'm going to have to cram the research itself into the next few days while simultaneously writing it all up, and it's examining the socio-technical aspects of three massively complex disaster case studies so that's going to be a complete nightmare. I'm pulling my hair out today trying to find sources to back up my choice of research methodology, and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg of **** heading my way over the next few days. The whole experience of my MSc has been one of being miserable, panicked, and wishing I wasn't doing it.

I don't plan to ever do a PhD, but part of the intent behind doing the MSc, aside from personal interest in the subject, was to open potential routes into other fields other than my own. I also think I'd probably struggle to explain what I've been doing for the last year if I just sack off the dissertation and start applying for jobs in my field again.

I realise this is a bit rambling but I was just wondering if anyone had any thoughts about whether it'd be sensible to pack it in? Is a PgDip looked poorly upon by employers? And if so, is it moreso than a MSc Pass? Has anyone else found themselves in a similar position and pulled through?
Last edited by pkpickles; 1 year ago
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SFA!
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Hi, I was also in a similar position only two weeks ago. With just my masters, having only completed the lit review back in April! I can assure you, you can complete it, just look at each section like mini essays that you have to complete and ensure you are doing something every day for the next 9 days (have a plan in place for each of the sections and on which day you will complete it). Don’t put pressure on yourself by trying to get a merit/distinction but pace yourself for a steady pass. Ultimately you have put effort in over these years irrespective of doing the modules last minute, it’s got to count for something! This is the last lap so don’t give up. Of course a PgDip still looks good but why not give a last attempt at an MSc? Irrespective of whether you pass it or not - you still have a PgDip to fall back on. I’m submitting mine after a two week struggle - irrespective of what I get from it - at least I hope not to have any regrets or doubts as to why I gave up in the final stage. Well done for coming so far and best of luck for the next 9 days - should you wish to continue. (I hope you do).
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by pkpickles)
Hello, I've got myself into a bit of a mess with my MSc and thought I'd try and canvas for opinion about whether to pack the whole thing in and accept a PgDip. Sorry for the length of the post, fully understand if nobody wants to read it!

I started my part-time distance learning MSc a couple of years ago but had to take a year off due to both of my parents dying in quick succession. Before I took the time off, the university refused to grant me mitigating circumstances for one of my modules despite my father being terminally ill in hospital (I appealed that decision and it failed) so that module was capped at 50.

I then resumed my studies last year and almost immediately got made redundant from my job of 9 years, which rattled me a fair bit. I decided to not immediately go back into work and continue with the MSc while sorting my head out, with the intention of the MSc being the explanation for the year's gap in my CV. Unfortunately, this year has been a bit of a nightmare in terms of my mental health and a brief period of semi-alcoholism, so I've not really achieved what I'd hoped with my studies. Every module essay has been a last-minute stressful job and I've ended up with 74/50/66/68/73/66 across the six modules.

I'm told this means I need at least 78 in my research dissertation to get a Distinction and at least 60 to get a Merit. I've got to hand it in on the 10th of this month after getting an extension and I've only written 6,500 words out of a total of 15,000 (+/- 10%). So far I've only done the literature review; I did some of the actual research back in April/May but then pretty much gave up, and spent the subsequent months struggling to find the motivation to actually do it, while also panicking about the fact that I wasn't doing it, and getting pissed quite a lot.

I have a feeling the dissertation is going to be terrible. What I've written is a good starting point for a lit review but needs about a month's tweaking. I'm going to have to cram the research itself into the next few days while simultaneously writing it all up, and it's examining the socio-technical aspects of three massively complex disaster case studies so that's going to be a complete nightmare. I'm pulling my hair out today trying to find sources to back up my choice of research methodology, and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg of **** heading my way over the next few days. The whole experience of my MSc has been one of being miserable, panicked, and wishing I wasn't doing it.

I don't plan to ever do a PhD, but part of the intent behind doing the MSc, aside from personal interest in the subject, was to open potential routes into other fields other than my own. I also think I'd probably struggle to explain what I've been doing for the last year if I just sack off the dissertation and start applying for jobs in my field again.

I realise this is a bit rambling but I was just wondering if anyone had any thoughts about whether it'd be sensible to pack it in? Is a PgDip looked poorly upon by employers? And if so, is it moreso than a MSc Pass? Has anyone else found themselves in a similar position and pulled through?
Have you spoken to anyone at your university (student support, personal tutor, supervisor) about your progress? If not, you need to make them aware, as there may be considerations they can put in place.

Is the dissertation at all recoverable? Can you use just the data you have without collecting more?

How would you feel if you got a MSc pass, or a PgDip? Which is the option you feel would make you happiest?
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pkpickles
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(Original post by SFA!)
Hi, I was also in a similar position only two weeks ago. With just my masters, having only completed the lit review back in April! I can assure you, you can complete it, just look at each section like mini essays that you have to complete and ensure you are doing something every day for the next 9 days (have a plan in place for each of the sections and on which day you will complete it). Don’t put pressure on yourself by trying to get a merit/distinction but pace yourself for a steady pass. Ultimately you have put effort in over these years irrespective of doing the modules last minute, it’s got to count for something! This is the last lap so don’t give up. Of course a PgDip still looks good but why not give a last attempt at an MSc? Irrespective of whether you pass it or not - you still have a PgDip to fall back on. I’m submitting mine after a two week struggle - irrespective of what I get from it - at least I hope not to have any regrets or doubts as to why I gave up in the final stage. Well done for coming so far and best of luck for the next 9 days - should you wish to continue. (I hope you do).
Thanks very much, this is encouraging. I've managed 500 words since I created this thread and am going to keep plugging at it until I make a decision either way in a day or two, I think. I get your point, may as well try and fail rather than giving up.
(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
Have you spoken to anyone at your university (student support, personal tutor, supervisor) about your progress? If not, you need to make them aware, as there may be considerations they can put in place.

Is the dissertation at all recoverable? Can you use just the data you have without collecting more?

How would you feel if you got a MSc pass, or a PgDip? Which is the option you feel would make you happiest?
I've already had a 10 day extension provided (for misc "illness" reasons which they are blanket accepting due to Covid-19) and I don't expect I'll be able to request any more given my previous experience with the mitigating circumstances process. I'm both too embarrassed to discuss it with my tutor and reluctant to do so in case it impacts his marking of the dissertation if he knows it was done in a rush.

The data is all from secondary sources (air crash reports, US House Committee hearings etc) and I don't actually have any properly codified, just a very, very small amount written out in a notebook and not of a great quality.

If I'm honest, either the Pass or the PgDip feel like failures to me, so all I'm left with is trying to find out how they might be seen by prospective employers if I have to explain what I've been doing the last year. The whole thing has been a wasted opportunity, unfortunately.

Thank you both for responding, I appreciate the time you spent reading my War & Peace up there.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by pkpickles)
I've already had a 10 day extension provided (for misc "illness" reasons which they are blanket accepting due to Covid-19) and I don't expect I'll be able to request any more given my previous experience with the mitigating circumstances process. I'm both too embarrassed to discuss it with my tutor and reluctant to do so in case it impacts his marking of the dissertation if he knows it was done in a rush.

The data is all from secondary sources (air crash reports, US House Committee hearings etc) and I don't actually have any properly codified, just a very, very small amount written out in a notebook and not of a great quality.

If I'm honest, either the Pass or the PgDip feel like failures to me, so all I'm left with is trying to find out how they might be seen by prospective employers if I have to explain what I've been doing the last year. The whole thing has been a wasted opportunity, unfortunately.

Thank you both for responding, I appreciate the time you spent reading my War & Peace up there.
This must be frustrating, as you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. If talking to your tutor isn't an option, you should still contact your uni's study skills department to see if they can offer advice.

Whether a pass or PgDip looks better really depends on the career sector, and whether a masters degree is required for a particular role. Generally though, there isn't a significant difference.
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kitkatkate281
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Sorry to hear you’ve had much a hard time with your masters :/ In terms of PGDip or a pass, I don’t think either of them would look bad (unless you were going down the PhD route, which you’re not so it’s fine). A pass in a masters degree is still a great achievement, especially during 2020, and to be honest I think your grades so far are excellent. And I’m guessing not, but does your University have a no detriment policy in place?

I’ve just finished my MA dissertation, and I had to finish it early because I started a new job this week. It was hard, but definitely doable, and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to write it once I had done all my research and planning. Like SFA! said, no matter what you get for your dissertation, you already have the PGDip, so you’ve got nothing to loose (apart from a lot of time and energy over the next 9 days!) But if you’ve decided not to do it, I wouldn’t blame you either. No matter what you do, you should still be proud of yourself
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username2825764
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An MA pass is still an MA.
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pkpickles
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(Original post by kitkatkate281)
Sorry to hear you’ve had much a hard time with your masters :/ In terms of PGDip or a pass, I don’t think either of them would look bad (unless you were going down the PhD route, which you’re not so it’s fine). A pass in a masters degree is still a great achievement, especially during 2020, and to be honest I think your grades so far are excellent. And I’m guessing not, but does your University have a no detriment policy in place?

I’ve just finished my MA dissertation, and I had to finish it early because I started a new job this week. It was hard, but definitely doable, and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to write it once I had done all my research and planning. Like SFA! said, no matter what you get for your dissertation, you already have the PGDip, so you’ve got nothing to loose (apart from a lot of time and energy over the next 9 days!) But if you’ve decided not to do it, I wouldn’t blame you either. No matter what you do, you should still be proud of yourself
Thanks for the kind words. The last email they sent us about a no detriment policy was an email in March telling us they were looking into the best form it could take, so I suspect we don't have one!

I'm finishing off the Data & Methods section today which leaves me the next 7 days to write up the results, discussion and intro. Will keep at it, I think may as well try my best and get a rubbish mark rather than just give up. I was pretty depressed about the whole thing when I started this thread but am feeling a bit more pragmatic about it now.

Thanks very much for all of the responses , they've really helped.
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pkpickles
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I just thought I would write an extra post here in case someone else is in the same boat as I was when I started the thread.

When I started this thread I was utterly despondent, I had what seemed like an insurmountable mountain of work ahead of me with what I perceived to be an inconceivably short amount of time and was convinced that the quality of my dissertation would be terrible so it was pointless to continue trying to complete it; the only outcome I could see was that it would cause me more anxiety and make myself more miserable.

I've just handed in my dissertation this morning and I can't put into words the feeling of relief I have that I didn't give up on it. I don't care if it's going to be a Pass, I don't even care if it's going to be a Fail, I feel so, so relieved that I stuck with it and handed something in. I can't imagine how much worse I would feel if I'd just packed it in and never even had the opportunity to find out if I could manage to do it.

So if you've come across this thread by Googling things like "Master's fail give up PGDip Pass", like I was a week ago - I've been where you are, and my advice is keep going! It feels rubbish now but it'll feel amazing when you hand something in.

Many thanks for all the helpful advice from people who replied to the thread as well, you helped keep me staying the course.

Cheers!
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JamesManc
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Good luck, the relief is tremendous. I've been in a similar situation. Like all of life's problems it all works out in the end.
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pkpickles
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Just wanted to follow this up (again) for anyone who finds the thread while in the same boat as me. I got my dissertation marks back - 76%, a Distinction, meaning that I get a Merit overall, and both the marker and the moderator think I should publish.

Again thank you so much to the people in this thread who suggested I carry on, it was a great help and I can't put into words how relieved I am that I listened to you.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by pkpickles)
Just wanted to follow this up (again) for anyone who finds the thread while in the same boat as me. I got my dissertation marks back - 76%, a Distinction, meaning that I get a Merit overall, and both the marker and the moderator think I should publish.

Again thank you so much to the people in this thread who suggested I carry on, it was a great help and I can't put into words how relieved I am that I listened to you.
Congratulations - so your dissertation wasn't terrible after all. It must have been imposter syndrome talking.
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