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Has anyone got into oxbridge for a masters with a 2.2?

I know it sounds mental, but has anyone actually ever done this or heard of anyone who has managed to do this? I guess it's certainly impossible? Would be interesting to hear back stories of anyone who has applied with a 2.2...
I am still in school and that sounds impossible.
Original post by Anonymous
I know it sounds mental, but has anyone actually ever done this or heard of anyone who has managed to do this? I guess it's certainly impossible? Would be interesting to hear back stories of anyone who has applied with a 2.2...

Not mental at all. I imagine it depends on the circumstances. For example, if health reasons prevented attaining certain grades etc, or if you had published academic work within prestigious journals.

That said, I really don't think it'd be a good idea pursuing a postgraduate degree at Oxford with a 2:2 behind you. The standard and workload will be extremely high.

Original post by Anonymous
I am still in school and that sounds impossible.

It's definitely not impossible. Is there a reason you think this might be the case?
I've only even heard of/known one person who was admitted to Oxford postgrad with a 2.2. Or at least I think she got a 2.2. That 2.2 was from Cambridge, though, and there were verifiable extenuating circumstances... :ninja: This person went on to study for the DPhil in music but I think she may have dropped out in the end :frown:
Original post by Anonymous
I know it sounds mental, but has anyone actually ever done this or heard of anyone who has managed to do this? I guess it's certainly impossible? Would be interesting to hear back stories of anyone who has applied with a 2.2...


Yes, there are all sorts of reasons why that might happen. I got onto a Masters degree at Cam with a 2.2 because I had a lot of relevant professional experience. I then found a colleague on my course who didn't even have a first degree, again, because they had a lot of relevant professional experience. I was fully funded as well. I went on after my Masters to get my PhD there.

Oxford and Cambridge aren't looking for the perfect academic record without a single blip, they are looking for intelligence, academic ability and potential. They know full well that comes in a wide range of people and from a wide range of backgrounds.
Original post by threeportdrift
Yes, there are all sorts of reasons why that might happen. I got onto a Masters degree at Cam with a 2.2 because I had a lot of relevant professional experience. I then found a colleague on my course who didn't even have a first degree, again, because they had a lot of relevant professional experience. I was fully funded as well. I went on after my Masters to get my PhD there.

Oxford and Cambridge aren't looking for the perfect academic record without a single blip, they are looking for intelligence, academic ability and potential. They know full well that comes in a wide range of people and from a wide range of backgrounds.

I would back this. Myself and 3 other friends of mine graduated with 2.2s for various reasons (we were in different year groups and all from Oxford all pursuing integrated masters science degrees) and we are all now doing DPhils in our various disciplines at Oxbridge/ Imperial. I also know one other friend of mine had a 2.2 after an undergrad BA in a humanities subject and was offered a place to study for his MA at Oxford again.

In all of our cases, only one of us applied for extenuating circumstances; in my case, I had some personal problems at the time which I was coping with but did not inform anyone about. Fortunately for all of us, we were always very active in tutorials and had quite good reputations in class in terms of problem sheets, extra discussions with our tutors (our tutorials were 2 on 1 with tutors so they knew us very well) and research work outside of term time (internships, etc.). This helped a lot with references, especially as the tutors that myself and one other friend worked very closely with were quite well known/respected names in our respective fields.

The admissions process has four different elements: grades + CV (all your research/relevant experience), references, statement of purpose and the interview. I want to start by saying that researching and passing exams are also two very different things. In post grad degrees, particularly the research ones, aptitude for research isn't necessarily proportional to getting good grades although of course getting a first does you no harm :wink: The interview, references, other experiences therefore hold quite a lot of weight and so can your statement of purpose, where you have the opportunity to give your potential supervisors an idea of how aware you are about what research can be done and how you can contribute. During the interview they fully probe your knowledge of the entire undergrad course (literally they can ask you about anything in/around your subject up to masters level), test you understood what you did in your summer projects and also check if you did contribute enough to any publications you have listed. They can also ask you about the project you are interested in, why you find it interesting and check your awareness of other efforts or interesting literature in that field then proceed to pull it apart and probe your theoretical knowledge some more about something completely unrelated to what you applied for but would have come across. After all that, if you can answer their questions reasonably/give it a good crack and show them that you are in it for good/ convince them that your grades were just a blip, then who cares if you got a 2.2? You had the balls to apply and you're clearly passionate and are willing to learn and your grades are clearly not an accurate representation of your intellect so that 2.2 basically goes out the window.

Sorry this was long but there was a time when I thought all was lost. I graduated with a 2.2 and all I ever wanted to do was pursue further research and that too in a competitive scientific discipline (astrophysics). I had lost all hope but then a close friend of mine (who had been in a similar position to me) got back into Oxbridge for a PhD and told me to also be hopeful and believe in myself and just give it a shot. So for anyone out there who finds themselves in a similar situation, don't give up, study hard, up your research experience, keep the profs that believe in you close, work with good people and there is no reason you cannot pursue a PhD too, even if it is "incredibly rare" or "unheard of" :smile:
Original post by Anonymous
I know it sounds mental, but has anyone actually ever done this or heard of anyone who has managed to do this? I guess it's certainly impossible? Would be interesting to hear back stories of anyone who has applied with a 2.2...


It might be possible on the MSc Genomics course, although that is held at one of the lesser Cambridge colleges.
Original post by StarLinyx
It might be possible on the MSc Genomics course, although that is held at one of the lesser Cambridge colleges.


If you're referring to the MSt Genomic Medicine course, it's not held at a "lesser" Cambridge college (which makes no sense since the colleges themselves usually do not have much if any direct influence in teaching postgrad courses, and are academically equal anyway for undergrads, for whom they do arrange teaching), it's taught at the Institute for Continuing Education, which is a separate (I believe non-research) department of the uni. Since the general point of ICE is to provide opportunities for education for those who would be unable to pursue it otherwise, are adult learners that are currently in full time employment and/or have non-standard educational backgrounds, it tracks they might be less focused on formal academic background if applicants have relevant professional experience etc.
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by artful_lounger
If you're referring to the MSt Genomic Medicine course, it's not held at a "lesser" Cambridge college (which makes no sense since the colleges themselves usually do not have much if any direct influence in teaching postgrad courses, and are academically equal anyway for undergrads, for whom they do arrange teaching), it's taught at the Institute for Continuing Education, which is a separate (I believe non-research) department of the uni. Since the general point of ICE is to provide opportunities for education for those who would be unable to pursue it otherwise, are adult learners that are currently in full time employment and/or have non-standard educational backgrounds, it tracks they might be less focused on formal academic background if applicants have relevant professional experience etc.

To my mind the ICE is a lesser institution within Cambridge. That said, if I wasn't tied to London then I might have still considered it.
how likely is it for someone who got a 2.2 in one module to get a place at Oxbridge for their masters? I generally get firsts/ high 2.1s and am at a Russell Group university. Will one low mark make the difference?
Original post by Anonymous
how likely is it for someone who got a 2.2 in one module to get a place at Oxbridge for their masters? I generally get firsts/ high 2.1s and am at a Russell Group university. Will one low mark make the difference?

I really don’t think so. I’ll be beginning my MPhil at Cambridge in October fully funded after quite a tumultuous undergraduate record: 2.1 in first year, 2.2 (in repeats after failing multiple exams) in second year, 1.1 in third year and currently 1.1 in fourth year. Admittedly, there are caveats here, but I’m not sure which ones are relevant: only third and fourth year count towards my degree classification, I had published a single-author paper in a top journal in my field, I was entitled to exam accommodations that weren’t applied in second year due to an admin error. I really thought that my second year grades would let me down, but from my experience so far, postgraduate admissions are rather holistic. If my blip in my academic record didn’t impact me,I really don’t think you have to worry about one single module (unless it is extremely closely related to the Masters degree you are applying for). Even in my third year when I got I 1.1, I still got a low 2.2 in one of my modules that was balanced out by some high firsts, so I really wouldn’t worry as long as your grades overall are good and your lower modules aren’t the ones most closely related to your proposed masters!
Original post by bitsbobsbubbles
I really don’t think so. I’ll be beginning my MPhil at Cambridge in October fully funded after quite a tumultuous undergraduate record: 2.1 in first year, 2.2 (in repeats after failing multiple exams) in second year, 1.1 in third year and currently 1.1 in fourth year. Admittedly, there are caveats here, but I’m not sure which ones are relevant: only third and fourth year count towards my degree classification, I had published a single-author paper in a top journal in my field, I was entitled to exam accommodations that weren’t applied in second year due to an admin error. I really thought that my second year grades would let me down, but from my experience so far, postgraduate admissions are rather holistic. If my blip in my academic record didn’t impact me,I really don’t think you have to worry about one single module (unless it is extremely closely related to the Masters degree you are applying for). Even in my third year when I got I 1.1, I still got a low 2.2 in one of my modules that was balanced out by some high firsts, so I really wouldn’t worry as long as your grades overall are good and your lower modules aren’t the ones most closely related to your proposed masters!


So i did two modules in my first year that are directly related to the masters I want to do (archaeology), and I got firsts in those. I'm in my second year and we're doing a module called 'Source Study', basically looking at archaeology and literary sources - this is the module I got a low mark on (down to technical issues with submission). But because the module title is so vague I'm worried this will reflect poorly on me when I apply if that makes sense?
Original post by Anonymous
So i did two modules in my first year that are directly related to the masters I want to do (archaeology), and I got firsts in those. I'm in my second year and we're doing a module called 'Source Study', basically looking at archaeology and literary sources - this is the module I got a low mark on (down to technical issues with submission). But because the module title is so vague I'm worried this will reflect poorly on me when I apply if that makes sense?


It's hard to say. I am studying for an MPhil at Cambridge in the archaeology department, and I got my worst grade (low 2:1) on the module which relates most to my current thesis now. They usually overlook one or two bad grades, as long as you have a good profile overall.
Original post by Anonymous
I know it sounds mental, but has anyone actually ever done this or heard of anyone who has managed to do this? I guess it's certainly impossible? Would be interesting to hear back stories of anyone who has applied with a 2.2...

Yes and no.

Generally speaking given how competitive it is to get onto postgrad programmes at Oxford and Cambridge at both the masters and doctoral levels, a 2:1 in an undergraduate degree (and indeed a merit in a masters) is the usually the minimum, and most of the time the most competitive applications will be offering a 1st and a distinction from top universities. That doesn't mean not having a 1st or a distinction means you won't get in. I got a 2:1 in a degree from the Open University of all places.

However as some have pointed out and whilst it isn't a common occurrence and very much depends on the programme/department, some do occasionally get in with a 2:2 but more often than not they might have extenuating circumstances and/or significant and relevant work or educational experience that would make them adept for the course.

So no it wouldn't be impossible but most of the time given the competition you'd be hard pressed to make a case for admission with a 2:2 without something significant to mitigate the fact you didn't achieve the minimum entry requirements.
Original post by StarLinyx
To my mind the ICE is a lesser institution within Cambridge. That said, if I wasn't tied to London then I might have still considered it.

Who told you it was a lesser institution?

Taking the example of the History programme at the ICE, it's taught by active history faculty academics and the standards to pass are reasonably high. I did a similar programme over at Oxford's Continuing Education Department and we were able to take modules in the actual history faculty as well as being taught by academics from the faculty and to pass needed at least 60% or above which was by no means easy given how strict they are/were with the marking.

The ICE has a purpose and that's to enable those who are otherwise qualified to study at Cambridge an opportunity to do so in a flexible and accommodating manner. But it is by no means an "easy" option or a "backdoor" into Cambridge or considered any less. I've known people from both Conted at Oxford and ICE at Cambridge who have gone onto do their PhDs either at Oxbridge (in faculties like History, SBS, JBS etc.) and a few who went over to the US at the Ivies and one who went to Stanford.

The degrees from Conted and ICE carry the Oxbridge name and are still well regarded. I didn't go onto further study like a PhD etc but I did go on to work in The City and at big firms (and then went back to do an MBA as well) and it certainly wasn't sneered at.
I’m a Cambridge alumni with a 2:1 in archaeology and anthropology. I’m currently reading for the msc at Oxford cont Ed in landscape archaeology. People on the course have a mixture of backgrounds but you do have to go through Oxford grad entry and the rule is you need a 2:1.

Most of the people on the course are older and doing it for fun. We do have a couple of straight from first degree people - one is wealthy, the other works for a commercial archaeological unit who pay for the course.

You probably need to think about why you want to do the masters.
If it’s because you love the subject and just want to do more, having a 2:2 may be fine esp if u rvself funding.
If you want to continue into academia, then I’d really question this. A 2:2 won’t get you into a DPhil.
If you are doing it because it sounds fun and you don’t know what you want to do longerterm, just don’t. It’s more debt and you’d be better getting an archaeological job.
Original post by Anonymous
I know it sounds mental, but has anyone actually ever done this or heard of anyone who has managed to do this? I guess it's certainly impossible? Would be interesting to hear back stories of anyone who has applied with a 2.2...

Admittedly I will be starting my Oxford MSc via a circuitous route. However, it began with a 2.2 from Nottingham. After Nottingham, I went to grad school in Canada and obtained a PhD. Now, I am switching career focus, hence the return to school. So, despite what some posters have stated, it is indeed possible to get a PhD and be accepted for admission at Oxford with a 2.2 (and it wasn't like I just missed a 2.1 either!). One poster doubted someone with a 2.2 would be able to cope with the "standard and workload" - nonsense; it comes down to motivation and effort.

The 2.2 was never mentioned in the interview. Obviously, I had evidence of academic achievement beyond undergrad though.

I also disagree with the negative comments on ICE and Conted - there will be no * by the degree. Oxbridge have nothing to gain by lowering standards for any of their degrees. Anyone admitted through ICE or Conted will be at a college too. Also, several of those courses have full-time equivalents too.
Original post by Troy_Tempest
Admittedly I will be starting my Oxford MSc via a circuitous route. However, it began with a 2.2 from Nottingham. After Nottingham, I went to grad school in Canada and obtained a PhD. Now, I am switching career focus, hence the return to school. So, despite what some posters have stated, it is indeed possible to get a PhD and be accepted for admission at Oxford with a 2.2 (and it wasn't like I just missed a 2.1 either!). One poster doubted someone with a 2.2 would be able to cope with the "standard and workload" - nonsense; it comes down to motivation and effort.

The 2.2 was never mentioned in the interview. Obviously, I had evidence of academic achievement beyond undergrad though.

I also disagree with the negative comments on ICE and Conted - there will be no * by the degree. Oxbridge have nothing to gain by lowering standards for any of their degrees. Anyone admitted through ICE or Conted will be at a college too. Also, several of those courses have full-time equivalents too.


Obviously your route to Oxford was a very different one and the fact that you have a PhD and also coming in a bit later on after your undergrad somewhat negates the 2:2. I think if you had said applied immediately after udnergrad with a 2:2 that's a different scenario.

Indeed given your achievements beyond that there is little if any relevance of that 2:2.

And yes as someone who went through the Conted it's ridiculous to suggest its a lesser degree: the standards are just as high and perhaps more demanding on a part-time basis. Doing an Oxford degree part-time is not to be sneered at.
For the record: to pass the MSc in History at Oxford that I did at the Conted I had to get at least 60%. In the end my final grade was 60%. This is despite the fact I got a distinction at Cambridge and a 1st at Manchester. I believe since then the pass mark has now been lowered to 50%. Nevertheless the standards are still high and anyone suggesting ICE at Cambridge or Conted at Oxford are somehow lesser degrees are fools.

The same goes for the Harvard Extension School and whilst the Finance degree there does not carry the same gravitas as the HBS, they are not easy programmes to graduate from.

The challenge isn't just the rigor given the institution from which you are receiving the degree but the incredible amount of self-directed learning and self-discipline required to do well on these programmes. They are great that they offer study opportunities to those who may not otherwise have them, but they are by no means an easy option.

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