Failed undergrad module, but great masters - barrier to PhD?

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SensiblePeanut
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Hello,

I am just entering the second year of my masters degree, part time, and I am considering whether I would like to, in the future, pursue further research at PhD level. This is very early consideration - I have discussed as a concept with my personal tutor, but not yet formulated a proposal or approached potential supervisors.

I am a mature student - I completed my undergrad 13 years ago in a subject unrelated to what I study now. I went straight into industry and have had a successful career, again unrelated to my previous study, which was the catalyst for my postgrad. My work and postgrad study are related, my undergrad is not - aside from the fact that a Batchelor’s degree was a necessary requirement to be accepted into the masters in the first place.

I expect to get a merit or distinction in my masters, assuming nothing goes terribly wrong this year, based on my performance last year.

My undergrad is a 2:1 (67).

I failed an assessment during my second year of undergrad. It was a single assessment module, and the resit was capped at pass, so my transcript shows 2 attempts at one 2nd year module, capped at pass. There were no mitigating circumstances and I never tried to claim any - I just did a shoddy job on an assessment at a time when I managed my time poorly, and redid it.

My third year results were outstanding (83 dissertation), my PG results are very good so far, and I have an otherwise unblemished academic and professional career. I am professionally accredited in my work, in an area related to my PG study.

I was prepared to discuss this in my PG application, but nobody asked me about the fail on my transcript. My references came from my employer, as the professors I was best known to as an undergrad have retired, and nobody at the university could give a personal reference, but they did confirm my 2:1. Therefor, PhD references would likely be more PG personal tutor and my dissertation supervisor.

My question is - to what extent is this likely to be a barrier to further research? The assessment in question was not a research project and though am prepared discuss it if required, I don’t want to make a big deal of it if potential supervisors or institutions won’t care and/or it wouldn’t come up.


Am I overthinking it?

Thank you.
P
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gjd800
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I think you will be fine. There's a lot of 'distance' between your UG and PG, and your dissertation was ace, it sounds as though you are acing the PG thus far - I don't think you have anything at all to lose by at least trying!
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QuentinM
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(Original post by SensiblePeanut)
Hello,

I am just entering the second year of my masters degree, part time, and I am considering whether I would like to, in the future, pursue further research at PhD level. This is very early consideration - I have discussed as a concept with my personal tutor, but not yet formulated a proposal or approached potential supervisors.

I am a mature student - I completed my undergrad 13 years ago in a subject unrelated to what I study now. I went straight into industry and have had a successful career, again unrelated to my previous study, which was the catalyst for my postgrad. My work and postgrad study are related, my undergrad is not - aside from the fact that a Batchelor’s degree was a necessary requirement to be accepted into the masters in the first place.

I expect to get a merit or distinction in my masters, assuming nothing goes terribly wrong this year, based on my performance last year.

My undergrad is a 2:1 (67).

I failed an assessment during my second year of undergrad. It was a single assessment module, and the resit was capped at pass, so my transcript shows 2 attempts at one 2nd year module, capped at pass. There were no mitigating circumstances and I never tried to claim any - I just did a shoddy job on an assessment at a time when I managed my time poorly, and redid it.

My third year results were outstanding (83 dissertation), my PG results are very good so far, and I have an otherwise unblemished academic and professional career. I am professionally accredited in my work, in an area related to my PG study.

I was prepared to discuss this in my PG application, but nobody asked me about the fail on my transcript. My references came from my employer, as the professors I was best known to as an undergrad have retired, and nobody at the university could give a personal reference, but they did confirm my 2:1. Therefor, PhD references would likely be more PG personal tutor and my dissertation supervisor.

My question is - to what extent is this likely to be a barrier to further research? The assessment in question was not a research project and though am prepared discuss it if required, I don’t want to make a big deal of it if potential supervisors or institutions won’t care and/or it wouldn’t come up.


Am I overthinking it?

Thank you.
P
Can I ask which field you are considering studying (I can't tell from your post)? I'm currently on a science PhD, just entering 2nd year so already competitive because it was a funded project. My undergraduate degree finished about 6 years ago (2015), I have two modules I barely passed (so similar kind of situation to you), ended up with a 2:1, didn't get the outstanding third year results you got, and while I improved in my masters (quite close to getting a distinction) it wasn't a huge improvement, I'm still here on a PhD.

I'd say it would probably be noticed but I'm not sure its a huge concern, especially if the topic of the module was something quite different from the area you are proposing to research (my barely-passed modules were all in microbiology and I currently study neuroscience so very little overlap there for me!). So I'd agree with the reply you already have, I seriously doubt it would be a hindrance but I can't say 100% for certain
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artful_lounger
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It's probably not going to make a difference unless it's really critical for the PhD project, e.g. if you're doing a text based PhD using texts in another language, and it was a language module in the target language. That might ring some alarm bells, although if you subsequently did well in later modules of the same type/topic then it may just be chalked up as a one off/bad day kind of thing.

Otherwise as above, you have a high 2:1 and a very strong undergrad dissertation, and if you do well in your masters (which is presumably relevant to the PhD project you want to do) that'll probably make more of a difference Ultimately the PhD is an extended research project so your dissertation or research based masters work will be more indicative of your potential to do well in a PhD than a taught undergrad module - so unless the undergrad module was in some "tool" you will need for the PhD, I think it's not worth worrying.

For what it's worth a friend of mine who did a physics PhD (in a quantum-related experimental/applied topic) but failed the second year quantum mechanics module didn't have a problem with that on his transcript - it was brought up but the supervisor saw he'd done really well in the first and third year QM modules so was happy that it wasn't indicative of a lack of understanding or anything. So even if it is somewhat related it may be overlooked as well!
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