Will anything offset my 2.2 for a Cambridge application?

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justanotherbloke
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Hi all,

I graduated from Imperial in 2019 with a 2.2 BEng (~55%) and am intending to apply to Cambridge for the MPhil in Manufacturing. Before dismissing me as delusional please hear me out:

I have a letter from my tutor outlining the fact that I had quite severe medical issues during my degree. Without going into too much detail I underwent a 3 hour long open bone reconstruction surgery on my writing shoulder in March, my arm was immobilised for 2 months after and I had a lengthy prescription of morphine that I ended up not taking as exams approached. Oh and this happened in both my 2nd and 3rd year so suffice to say I did not do (or feel) too well.

Also, since graduating I have been working at one of the top engineering companies internationally as a Manufacturing Engineer, I actually applied on the graduate scheme but was offered entry straight into a professional role following the Assessment Day. I am a member of the IET and am working towards professional registration, I have taken professional project management training and have had significant work experience in big budget manufacturing projects.

I have really tried to put my grades behind me, but I'm worried about how (if?) it'll affect my application. I intend to put all of the above in my application when I make it.

So to summarise, does anyone have any advice/experience on:

How much Cambridge will take into account medical circumstances affecting grades?

How much Cambridge will take into account relevant work experience (much more relevant to the Masters than my degree was fwiw) to offset bad grades?

Thanks for reading this spiel,

justanotherbloke
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by justanotherbloke)
Hi all,

I graduated from Imperial in 2019 with a 2.2 BEng (~55%) and am intending to apply to Cambridge for the MPhil in Manufacturing. Before dismissing me as delusional please hear me out:

I have a letter from my tutor outlining the fact that I had quite severe medical issues during my degree. Without going into too much detail I underwent a 3 hour long open bone reconstruction surgery on my writing shoulder in March, my arm was immobilised for 2 months after and I had a lengthy prescription of morphine that I ended up not taking as exams approached. Oh and this happened in both my 2nd and 3rd year so suffice to say I did not do (or feel) too well.

Also, since graduating I have been working at one of the top engineering companies internationally as a Manufacturing Engineer, I actually applied on the graduate scheme but was offered entry straight into a professional role following the Assessment Day. I am a member of the IET and am working towards professional registration, I have taken professional project management training and have had significant work experience in big budget manufacturing projects.

I have really tried to put my grades behind me, but I'm worried about how (if?) it'll affect my application. I intend to put all of the above in my application when I make it.

So to summarise, does anyone have any advice/experience on:

How much Cambridge will take into account medical circumstances affecting grades?

How much Cambridge will take into account relevant work experience (much more relevant to the Masters than my degree was fwiw) to offset bad grades?

Thanks for reading this spiel,

justanotherbloke
Cam will expect that your undergrad institution made some allowance or adjustment in your examinations or grading to cater for your medical situation. If they did not, that would be unusual and need proving, but you can't get a double adjustment, ie at undergrad and again by Cam.

Otherwise what normally makes up for a weaker academic record is 5+ years of professional work in a relevant area. So your best bet would be to stick with the job you've got for a few more years and when a natural break comes up like the opportunity to specialise, consider the degree then.
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Socratic
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
you can't get a double adjustment, ie at undergrad and again by Cam.
You're assuming that mit circs are perfectly off-set by university support, which is rarely the case. Most universities will just let you resit without a cap, and are often terrible when it comes to mental health aspects of surgery. Even when they do make direct adjustments to your grade, e.g. rounding you up to the next classification, this may still not be an accurate reflection of what you could have achieved if healthy. Suppose you finish with 55% and they bump you to 60% but you would have achieved 65% or even 70% if healthy then clearly a 'double adjustment' is in order.

OP, I would definitely mention your health issues in your application. However, threeportdrift is correct that you are best getting more experience. I would email or phone Cambridge and ask this exact question; they will give you specific advice.
Last edited by Socratic; 4 months ago
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by Socratic)
You're assuming that mit circs are perfectly off-set by university support, which is rarely the case. Most universities will just let you resit without a cap, and are often terrible when it comes to mental health aspects of surgery. Even when they do make direct adjustments to your grade, e.g. rounding you up to the next classification, this may still not be an accurate reflection of what you could have achieved if healthy. Suppose you finish with 55% and they bump you to 60% but you would have achieved 65% or even 70% if healthy then clearly a 'double adjustment' is in order.

OP, I would definitely mention your health issues in your application. However, threeportdrift is correct that you are best getting more experience. I would email or phone Cambridge and ask this exact question; they will give you specific advice.
I didn't assume anything about the fairness of the mitigation. I told the OP what is a universal rational policy. Institution B will not consider mitigation for events that occurred at Institution A. The mitigation has to be applied at the institution at which the circumstances were in play. If the mitigation was not fair or reasonable in someone's opinion, then that has to be taken up with institution A at the time, and negotiated there, where the facts happened and the academic standards are set. No institution in a B situation is going to make a retrospective re-adjustment on the say-so of the beneficiary of that adjustment.
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Socratic
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I didn't assume anything about the fairness of the mitigation. I told the OP what is a universal rational policy. Institution B will not consider mitigation for events that occurred at Institution A. The mitigation has to be applied at the institution at which the circumstances were in play. If the mitigation was not fair or reasonable in someone's opinion, then that has to be taken up with institution A at the time, and negotiated there, where the facts happened and the academic standards are set. No institution in a B situation is going to make a retrospective re-adjustment on the say-so of the beneficiary of that adjustment.
Drop the mock-legalese. Nothing you described is "universal" and your reply here is beside the point. It goes without saying that Cambridge, or any other university, is not going to formally assess mitigating cirumcstances from a prior university, but they may take them into account when considering an application, as I have experienced (and received an offer), and which was clearly my point above. Departments don't simply assume that the support received perfectly balanced the health issues; that would be quite silly. Many students do not even apply for support and the OP did not mention what support he received. But from the sounds of it, his grades were clearly affected by the surgeries yet he subsquently passed the tests with flying colours for a graduate scheme, so more than likely the support, if there was any, was insufficient and his result of 55% did not reflect his true, healthy ability.
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justanotherbloke
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(Original post by Socratic)
You're assuming that mit circs are perfectly off-set by university support, which is rarely the case. Most universities will just let you resit without a cap, and are often terrible when it comes to mental health aspects of surgery. Even when they do make direct adjustments to your grade, e.g. rounding you up to the next classification, this may still not be an accurate reflection of what you could have achieved if healthy. Suppose you finish with 55% and they bump you to 60% but you would have achieved 65% or even 70% if healthy then clearly a 'double adjustment' is in order.

OP, I would definitely mention your health issues in your application. However, threeportdrift is correct that you are best getting more experience. I would email or phone Cambridge and ask this exact question; they will give you specific advice.
I wasn't going to mention the actual mitigation as it is all in the past now but yes, it is as you say, basically an uncapped resit and allowing me the option of retaking the year, with missed coursework being marked as 0 without penalty (oh the generosity right?).

(Original post by threeportdrift)
I didn't assume anything about the fairness of the mitigation. I told the OP what is a universal rational policy. Institution B will not consider mitigation for events that occurred at Institution A. The mitigation has to be applied at the institution at which the circumstances were in play. If the mitigation was not fair or reasonable in someone's opinion, then that has to be taken up with institution A at the time, and negotiated there, where the facts happened and the academic standards are set. No institution in a B situation is going to make a retrospective re-adjustment on the say-so of the beneficiary of that adjustment.
My bold, not to be picky but it is a formal letter written by my tutor outlining my issues. Not sure if that makes any difference.

One thing I remember reading ages ago, can't remember where, is that universities, especially top universities, did not especially like people returning to education after years away as they had lost their academic mindset, and would struggle to get back into the rhythm of intensive lectures, essays and classes. Is there any validity to this?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by justanotherbloke)
I wasn't going to mention the actual mitigation as it is all in the past now but yes, it is as you say, basically an uncapped resit and allowing me the option of retaking the year, with missed coursework being marked as 0 without penalty (oh the generosity right?).


My bold, not to be picky but it is a formal letter written by my tutor outlining my issues. Not sure if that makes any difference.

One thing I remember reading ages ago, can't remember where, is that universities, especially top universities, did not especially like people returning to education after years away as they had lost their academic mindset, and would struggle to get back into the rhythm of intensive lectures, essays and classes. Is there any validity to this?
Not at Cambridge, first hand experience, I got in with a 2.2 + work experience after a 15 year break, then again after a 10 year break.
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one_two_three
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Most universities are not concerned about a break in studies provided that your knowledge on the subject area remains current i.e. your work experience is directly related to your undergrad/postgrad.

Your undergrad uni should have provided mitigation - if they offered for you to resit a year and other resits without prejudice then that was your call if you refused the offer. You don't really receive contextual offers for postgrad because you're an adult now so mitigation is not a big thing in the same way it is at undergrad level - you are required to take responsibility for your grades. If I am being honest, Cambridge is massively competitive so it will be candidates with a 1st at undergrad that get places on the courses - consideration of mitigation for your circumstances would be if you have achieved a 65+ 2.1 at undergrad.

Why do you need a masters and why Cambridge?
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justanotherbloke
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(Original post by one_two_three)
Most universities are not concerned about a break in studies provided that your knowledge on the subject area remains current i.e. your work experience is directly related to your undergrad/postgrad.

Your undergrad uni should have provided mitigation - if they offered for you to resit a year and other resits without prejudice then that was your call if you refused the offer. You don't really receive contextual offers for postgrad because you're an adult now so mitigation is not a big thing in the same way it is at undergrad level - you are required to take responsibility for your grades. If I am being honest, Cambridge is massively competitive so it will be candidates with a 1st at undergrad that get places on the courses - consideration of mitigation for your circumstances would be if you have achieved a 65+ 2.1 at undergrad.

Why do you need a masters and why Cambridge?
I didn't want to resit the year as it would mean wasting a year of my life, wasting about £15k, losing all the friends I had working in projects together and having to go through the added stress of redoing an already difficult year, one which I didn't even fail. If I had failed and was required to resit obviously I would've.

I get that however lacklustre the university's policy is, it is still the policy, and me turning it down is on me. That is why I hope that the very relevant work experience I have done will overshadow the (comparatively) much less relevant degree that gave me those 4 letters after my name. I know you'll probably think I'm biased but it is my honest opinion that a 1st in my course fresh out of uni is much less useful to the MPhil than the work experience I have subsequently obtained and I hope that Cambridge will see that.

I need a masters for a few reasons:
1) It greatly aids applying for engineering chartership, and is the only guaranteed way to fulfill the educational requirements set out by the Engineering Council
2) Thinking internationally, a masters is becoming seen as standard in lots of European and American engineering companies. I've seen some companies that don't even allow you to progress through the online application without having a masters qualification.
3) Currently my educational attainment terminates as a 2.2. I had stellar GCSEs, stellar A Levels and it will always be that 2.2 that everyone (recruiters/colleagues/family) considers me by. I hope that by gaining a better masters qualification I can finally put that behind me.
4) Why Cambridge? Disregarding the typical 'It's Cambridge duh' answers the course itself is unique as far as I've seen with it's heavy industrial focus and the fact that it doesn't require an academic background in manufacturing, unlike a few of the 'Advanced Manufacturing Engineering' MScs which read as if they assume a Manufacturing Engineering bachelors.
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one_two_three
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Are you looking at other universities as well? I think realistically Cambridge isn't going to happen - even considering mitigating circumstances a jump of 15% in grades is massive, not something that can really be covered by mitigation.

I can understand not being want to be split from your friends but you were paying for an education at the end of the day and that is why you go to university. You accepted the 2.2 as a reflection of your capability and did not want to go for a higher grade when you were given the opportunity. By all means put an application into the university but I think you should also be applying to good (but less competitive) universities.
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pgapps2021
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In my experience, Cambridge is far more sympathetic to extenuating circumstances than you'd expect. I didn't get good grades at undergrad because of health reasons, but I still got an MA offer from them. Cambridge gives you a chance to address special circumstances when you apply, and if you have a tutor's backing who understands your situation that'll help as well. I can't speak to your specific subject or how industry experience is assessed, but I agree that it'd be a good idea to get in touch with your department and ask them for advice.
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one_two_three
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(Original post by Socratic)
You have no idea what you're talking about. Postgraduate admissions are far more flexible and context-sensitive than undergraduate (and indeed less competitive). Mit circs are a "big thing" no different to undergraduate -- why on earth would it be any different? Health issues can be devastating regardless of age. And do cut the self-help waffle about responsibility and being an adult. Responsibility cannot be borne for health issues outside of your control that have causal effects on your grades, nor are the latter a reflection of your true ability if you suffer from the former. This ought to be simple to grasp, but, alas, you have even failed to grasp, repeatedly, that OP's course requires a 2.1 not a 1st, hence there is no "jump of 15%". Not to mention, the opportunity cost of resitting a year is enormous -- not everyone has the privilege to forego tens of thousands in a good job to re-sit grades that ought to have been correctly adjusted in the first place. Choices are often illusory.

For anyone who comes across here via Google, as I did many times when looking for advice, just notice that the two people who have been in OP's situation (myself and pgapps2021) and received offers, are giving precisely the opposite advice of the two who have not. This ought to be telling, so don't be disheartened. If I had listened to numpties like one_two_three, I wouldn't be a Cam graduate on a funded PhD right now.
Is your assumption that I have not completed postgraduate study? I am aware that postgraduate is less competitive than undergraduate - but oxbridge is almost as competitive and most people attending will have a 1st. You only have to see the threads on this site to see that. It isn't any secret, and so if most of the class is on a high 2.1 or a 1st and you go in with a 2.2 then it is a massive jump academically. You can say a 2.1 but I suspect you will not see people on their courses with 60/61/62. Everyone will be at the standard of nearer to a 1st.

The OP was given mitigation at university and declined the mitigation. As such, the grade has been accepted as a reflection of ability, otherwise, why not take the opportunity to get a grade that you think reflects your ability? Also, the OP was on a 3years course they have not graduated with a masters, and as such would have been eligible for the further year of funding for a resit year.

I am not the only one that has stated that mitigation is given at undergrad and so I don't think that makes me a 'numpty' - I think that you take your exception to the rule and blanket canvas it against the intake. But the course you are studying has a huge impact on success rates and engineering at Masters level is a competitive course because there is a huge attraction to having a masters for the very reasons the OP has stated.
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pgapps2021
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Mitigation is often not or barely given. I was personally offered the choice not to sit my exams at all (and get a 'deemed to have deserved honours'), or to sit them, and just get whatever grade I got. No adjustments were made - I sat the same exams, in the same circumstances, and was marked blindly, like everyone else. When it was time to apply for postgrad, my tutor contextualised my results, and Cambridge understood that grades don't always reflect a person's ability (and that bad health can make for bad grades).

Sure, there's a chance the OP won't get in, because as many have said it is a competitive process, and there are no guarantees. But as Socratic points out, many people will see this thread and be disheartened by advice that really doesn't reflect everyone's experiences, so I feel it's important to acknowledge that A) the idea that mitigation is always a fair process that allows people to graduate with marks reflective of their abilities is simply not true, B) Cambridge is really not the elitist, unsympathetic institution it's made out to be in this thread, and C) bad marks needn't be the end of your academic career, including at Oxbridge. I'm starting my PhD on a Gates Cambridge scholarship in October, proving that the university really can see potential beyond grades!
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one_two_three
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I am a big believer in if you don't apply then you definitely get a no, but I think there is also an element of realism required. Yes they will see beyond grades, and a covering letter from a tutor can be a great help but it is still an extremely competitive course at Cambridge and most applicants will have the required grades. It's not about putting people off, it's about having some realism on the subject and applying for more realistic universities as well and not being set on one university.

This isn't a degree where people are going into a masters as academic progression - the masters is almost considered a prerequisite to get promotion in the 'real world' which means that at some point every graduate with a bachelors is going to want to pursue the masters. As a consequence, the competition for THIS course is very competitive. The OP is better speaking to the university themselves because while they may accept narrowly missing out on grades due to mitigation, this isn't a narrowly missing grades.

I would look at Cambridge and speak to them directly, but also speak to some other universities where it is less competitive. Even with a stellar academic record you still have less than a 30% chance of acceptance at Cambridge.
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justanotherbloke
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Thank you all for your opinions, they have certainly given me food for thought. However I notice they all address the fact that I may be less competitive than my fellow applicants, which I admit is a possibility. No one thus far has said or implied that I may not be up to masters level study, which I certainly feel ready for given my work experience and industry exposure. Given that applications for this course are considered on a rolling basis, would each application not be judged on it's own merit? As opposed to collecting all applications and choosing the top 50 or whatever the intake is. This is where I hope my (very relevant) work experience will overshadow my (less relevant) degree, in which a 1st would not afford me any more actual knowledge for the purposes of the MPhil.

In hindsight, I do not regret not retaking the year. If I had I would've graduated during coronavirus and aside from not having an Albert Hall graduation I would be faced with a far tougher job market and would probably not have landed the extremely lucky opportunity I am in currently, if a job at all.
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one_two_three
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(Original post by justanotherbloke)
Thank you all for your opinions, they have certainly given me food for thought. However I notice they all address the fact that I may be less competitive than my fellow applicants, which I admit is a possibility. No one thus far has said or implied that I may not be up to masters level study, which I certainly feel ready for given my work experience and industry exposure. Given that applications for this course are considered on a rolling basis, would each application not be judged on it's own merit? As opposed to collecting all applications and choosing the top 50 or whatever the intake is. This is where I hope my (very relevant) work experience will overshadow my (less relevant) degree, in which a 1st would not afford me any more actual knowledge for the purposes of the MPhil.

In hindsight, I do not regret not retaking the year. If I had I would've graduated during coronavirus and aside from not having an Albert Hall graduation I would be faced with a far tougher job market and would probably not have landed the extremely lucky opportunity I am in currently, if a job at all.
If you are applying to the MPhil then you should already be speaking to the university - especially considering your circumstances. A potential supervisor is going to give you a better answer than anyone on here.

You completed an undergraduate degree which already says you are up to masters level of study. An MPhil is an academic qualification - it does not matter what undergrad you took, the skills needed for your qualification will be transferable. Your grade is not just indicative of knowledge, you can have fantastic knowledge of a subject which will work great in practical situations but you could be poor at its application in an academic setting so the grade you achieve might be lower. Work experience is great but it does not overshadow academic achievement entirely. A grade is your academic ability and knowledge combined. It is a reflection of your abilities as a whole.
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justanotherbloke
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(Original post by one_two_three)
If you are applying to the MPhil then you should already be speaking to the university - especially considering your circumstances. A potential supervisor is going to give you a better answer than anyone on here.

You completed an undergraduate degree which already says you are up to masters level of study. An MPhil is an academic qualification - it does not matter what undergrad you took, the skills needed for your qualification will be transferable. Your grade is not just indicative of knowledge, you can have fantastic knowledge of a subject which will work great in practical situations but you could be poor at its application in an academic setting so the grade you achieve might be lower. Work experience is great but it does not overshadow academic achievement entirely. A grade is your academic ability and knowledge combined. It is a reflection of your abilities as a whole.
I'm intending to apply in September for the 2022 entry, so early days yet. Apologies if I didn't make that clear. I was going to get in touch nearer the time anyway to ask about submitting 1 academic and 1 professional reference as opposed to the 2 academic references they ask for in light of my situation. I guess I can always explain my above issues and get their take on it. Obviously not expecting a mitigation form like with undergrad applications but hopefully they'll provide some guidance.
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one_two_three
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(Original post by justanotherbloke)
I'm intending to apply in September for the 2022 entry, so early days yet. Apologies if I didn't make that clear. I was going to get in touch nearer the time anyway to ask about submitting 1 academic and 1 professional reference as opposed to the 2 academic references they ask for in light of my situation. I guess I can always explain my above issues and get their take on it. Obviously not expecting a mitigation form like with undergrad applications but hopefully they'll provide some guidance.
For an MPhil you want to have a research idea in mind and contact a potential supervisor before you put your application in. I understand that it is early to be submitting it now but soon a lot of the staff will be taking their holidays over summer. If you want to submit early in the cycle then just get that squared away as soon as you can.
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gman9999
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(Original post by justanotherbloke)
Hi all,

I graduated from Imperial in 2019 with a 2.2 BEng (~55%) and am intending to apply to Cambridge for the MPhil in Manufacturing. Before dismissing me as delusional please hear me out:

I have a letter from my tutor outlining the fact that I had quite severe medical issues during my degree. Without going into too much detail I underwent a 3 hour long open bone reconstruction surgery on my writing shoulder in March, my arm was immobilised for 2 months after and I had a lengthy prescription of morphine that I ended up not taking as exams approached. Oh and this happened in both my 2nd and 3rd year so suffice to say I did not do (or feel) too well.

Also, since graduating I have been working at one of the top engineering companies internationally as a Manufacturing Engineer, I actually applied on the graduate scheme but was offered entry straight into a professional role following the Assessment Day. I am a member of the IET and am working towards professional registration, I have taken professional project management training and have had significant work experience in big budget manufacturing projects.

I have really tried to put my grades behind me, but I'm worried about how (if?) it'll affect my application. I intend to put all of the above in my application when I make it.

So to summarise, does anyone have any advice/experience on:

How much Cambridge will take into account medical circumstances affecting grades?

How much Cambridge will take into account relevant work experience (much more relevant to the Masters than my degree was fwiw) to offset bad grades?

Thanks for reading this spiel,

justanotherbloke
You went through such an invasive surgery and did not think about giving in an extenuating circumstances form to delay your courseworks and exams to the following year? Sounds like you were getting a 2:2 even before the surgery. People get extensions for all sorts of things. And to be blunt you aren’t getting into camb with a 2:2.
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justanotherbloke
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(Original post by one_two_three)
For an MPhil you want to have a research idea in mind and contact a potential supervisor before you put your application in. I understand that it is early to be submitting it now but soon a lot of the staff will be taking their holidays over summer. If you want to submit early in the cycle then just get that squared away as soon as you can.
Thanks for your advice, I had thought they'd be busy with exams/dissertations this time of the year but I guess I'll give it a go.

ISMM is a taught masters so I was under the impression that no research proposal is necessary?
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