Low Dissertation Mark

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Beggarsroost
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Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Beggarsroost » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:35 pm

Hi All,

I recently graduated from my BSc. I achieved a mid 2:1 which is OK I guess but what has really got me down was my low dissertation mark. I was averaging a high 2:1 and even a few 1st in my coursework/exams over my final year and so was confident that i was going to come out with the high 2:1 I felt I needed to eventually get on to clinical training. However, I only achieved a 2:2 in my dissertation, a high 2:2 but a Desmond none the less! This dragged me down to a 64% overall. I'll be honest, I was gutted. I think that its because I put so much time and work into the disso for it to only be my lowest mark by far (i could have accepted it easier if it had been a bad exam or essay) and also because it was worth SO much of my final grade.

I'm wondering a few things:

1. How do I stop beating myself up over this? I know its not really that big a deal in the grand scheme of things but I still feel so disappointed. I also feel embarrassed as I used real world data from real patients and so obviously had to send my finished work to those I worked with in the hospital. Its also really knocked my confidence in terms of whether im capable of producing research of a good enough standard.
2. Will this affect me later on? Now that I only have a 64% I feel that i have to do a Masters to boost my academic profile. Also, because its the dissertation I wonder if employers/courses will look at it and think "oh well she's not good where it counts". Will it be seen as an important gap in my transcript?

Maybe im being bit dramatic but I worked so hard, especially during my final year and now I dont feel that my final result reflects that. Iwould appreciate any advice :)
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Gilly
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Gilly » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:54 pm

so, in terms of getting on a course and for psych-relevant jobs, mostly they want a 2.1 - some courses will want a "higher" 2.1, so you will just have to do some research and planning to apply wisely, but having a "lower" 2.1 isn't necessarily going to limit you. Further qualification would be a necessity for clinical psychology in the case of a 2.2 for your entire degree, but not in this case.

so, first things first - stop beating yourself up, you passed your degree with a 2.1, WELL DONE! also unless your patients were also psychology professors, i doubt you have little reason to be embarrassed by the work you sent them.

Focus now on getting relevant experience - the 2.1 is a simple box tick, it is essentially "has a 2.1...check!" - they're unlikely to sit there analysing your transcript. Experience and understanding of psychology as applied to clinical settings is now a focus

As an aside, my first year statistics module was a complete disaster, it was 100% exam and i flummoxed it spectacularly, i passed with a 40 - dead on scraped a pass. That's right there on my transcript and its never come up, not even once!

this profession is hard enough without you giving yourself a good kicking - let it go, be self-compassionate, roll up your sleeves and jump into the next bit!
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Will
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Will » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:23 pm

Gilly wrote:so, in terms of getting on a course and for psych-relevant jobs, mostly they want a 2.1 - some courses will want a "higher" 2.1, so you will just have to do some research and planning to apply wisely, but having a "lower" 2.1 isn't necessarily going to limit you. Further qualification would be a necessity for clinical psychology in the case of a 2.2 for your entire degree, but not in this case.

so, first things first - stop beating yourself up, you passed your degree with a 2.1, WELL DONE! also unless your patients were also psychology professors, i doubt you have little reason to be embarrassed by the work you sent them.

Focus now on getting relevant experience - the 2.1 is a simple box tick, it is essentially "has a 2.1...check!" - they're unlikely to sit there analysing your transcript. Experience and understanding of psychology as applied to clinical settings is now a focus

As an aside, my first year statistics module was a complete disaster, it was 100% exam and i flummoxed it spectacularly, i passed with a 40 - dead on scraped a pass. That's right there on my transcript and its never come up, not even once!

this profession is hard enough without you giving yourself a good kicking - let it go, be self-compassionate, roll up your sleeves and jump into the next bit!
Totally agree. I did it the opposite way round, made a mess of exams in second year and then pulled it back with a good dissertation mark. At the end of the day a 2:1 is a 2:1! No one has ever mentioned it.

In terms of moving forwards - and in light of your worries about your ability to produce good quality research - reflect on it, learn from it and work out what you could do better. That's what an interview panel would be looking for.
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by carmelo » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:06 am

dont worry - I FAILED my first year statistics because I could not submit a report on time, which was worth 40 % :D
When I applied for MRES at a Red Brick, which was almost a pure statistics course, no one asked anything, although I had to send them my transcript , so they abviously saw it and I still got the place ;)
Dont worry, you will be fine :)

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ClaireEmma
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by ClaireEmma » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:34 am

I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed with your dissertation mark. Have you considered emailing your supervisor to ask for some feedback? Perhaps they could give you an idea of what went wrong, and what areas needed improving to push it up to a solid 2.1. I know that you can't change it now, but given that you thought it had gone well, it may put your mind at rest to have an idea of what the problem was. I am recent graduate also so not in a position to give much advice, but I would agree with the others that a 2.1 is a 2.1 and so your dissertation mark alone shouldn't be a huge barrier. However, a research methods MSc or a relevant masters with a research component could improve your research skills and allow you to feel more confident in this area, and less apprehensive about the research component of the doctorate? As Gilly said, relevant work experience should probably be your priority right now, however that doesn't rule out a part time or distanced learning MSc. Just a thought, best of luck!

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enid
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by enid » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:54 pm

Yeah I would add that I got 40% for a biological substrates of psychology exam in my first year - all other marks across three years were a 2:1-first (only a few firsts!) - and it's never come up for post-grad study interviews, interviews for funding, applications, etc. that is for masters, PhD etc (at red bricks), they just want to tick the box that says I have a 2:1. Marking is a little bit subjective imo and varies wildly, I would say, from uni to uni, thus a 2:1 is a 2:1! If you can talk with knowledge (and passion) about your dissertation, this is key, I would imagine. It doesn't help to beat yourself up, though i know it can be hard.

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ell
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by ell » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:14 am

I got 63% in my degree (a 'low' 2:1) and I got a 2:2 for my dissertation (I can't remember the exact percentage, perhaps I have repressed the memory, it was a long time ago!). Over my career to date I have held 3 different AP posts and I've recently been offered a place on the Oxford Clinical Psychology Doctorate course. A 2:2 dissertation mark does NOT mean you are out of the game!

My 2:2 dissertation has never come up in job interviews (apart from when I've brought it up to demonstrate my ability to critically evaluate and learn from rubbish research, i.e. mine), and it has never hindered me getting a job. With your 2:1 (congrats by the way!) you can go out into the wild world and get an AP post or an RA post, or loads of other types of jobs.

A word of realism. The courses *do* ask for academic transcripts, so will see your marks, and they *do* find out the percentage you obtained in your degree - unfortunately the days of a '2:1 is a 2:1' are over when it comes to course applications. A very small number of universities do rule out those with a low 2:1, but these are only a few - and you have the power to choose which courses to apply for! If you are really worried about it (which I think there is not much need to be really) you can always apply for those unis that will offer the opportunity to sit a screening test if you have a 2:1.

I did do an MSc to boost my application, as I thought my academic profile might have been letting me down, and I confess that since getting the MSc my interview offer rate shot up. However, that might also have had something to do with getting a good academic reference as a side-effect of doing the MSc, as well as my form improving by a lot and me getting the courage to ask for feedback from several people. Oh yeah, and I also learnt what reflection was. The scientist in me knows that I had too many confounding variables to say that the MSc was what swung it, and even if it was the MSc, it more than compensated for my 2:2 dissertation mark. 4 different course centres, including a very popular one, have not cared I had that low mark, and I doubt they will care about yours either.

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Beth
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Beth » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:43 pm

I have to say that you really are beating yourself up over what is ultimately a huge achievement!

I got a low 2.1, i'm a year graduated and I applied for the doctorate this year, I applied to 2 with screening tests 2 without, I got interviews at one with and one without screening tests and I also made it onto the reserve list. I asked at my feedback if I need a masters to bump up my marks and was told I should only do a masters a) in something I'm interested in and b) if it will help my confidence in that area (for me stats and research). but that they saw no reason why I wouldn't get on a course with or without a masters. I then did apply for a masters and was told that acedemically I wasn't strong enough (go figure!)

For me the most important thing I've learnt this year that everything you hear about needing x amount of years as an AP and 87% in every exam and modules you've taken since you were 5 years old is just not true. Its about gaining experience and reflecting on it and developing your psychological thinking, the main thing to tick if there is any box ticking to do is to tick the 2.1 box - you've done that, now ignore all the boxes you hear about and focus on you developing as a clinican.

Please be happy with your degree you worked bloody hard for it so enjoy the mark you've got as it will do you absolutely no harm if you decide to go down the clinical route.

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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Keyser_Soze » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:28 pm

Look at the silver lining.

You didn't get the mark you wanted for your dissertation. Why not try reflecting on this? Why didn't you do as well? Did you not quite get the theory? Were you juggling a lot? Were your stats just a little bit off? Did you select an inappropriate design? Why? What would you change if you could go back?

You may get to a point down the line when you're at a DCLinPsy Interview and you can use all of this as material. If you give it some thought you may see where you went wrong and also where you did well. If you can communicate this, you're not only demonstrating your knowledge of research, but also your capacity to be reflective.

Good luck!

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Beggarsroost
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Beggarsroost » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:20 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone, after having some time to reflect I now find it a bit easier to see the silver lining in the situation i.e. that I can use the experience to reflect and work out what I would do differently.

In terms of a Masters I think the main reason I am leaning towards doing one is to mainly improve my confidence in research methods. Also, im not really in much of a rush to get on the doctorate (i'm still only 21 after a 4 year undergrad) and so (funds allowing!) I would really like to do a masters that I enjoy as a sort of "stepping stone". I already know the courses I would like to apply for Doctorate-wise (Surrey, Royal Holloway, Kings and UCL) because they are great courses and I'm not really in a position to relocate on my own, so for these courses I think a masters will help a lot!

Again, thanks for all the feedback, it really helped me feel a bit more confident in my abilities! I am due to start a job as a support worker working with brain injured clients soon so hopefully after that I will be able to gain a place on a Masters and/or and AP post :)
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Beggarsroost
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by Beggarsroost » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:24 pm

P.s I did email my tutor but he left the university at the end of the year and I cant get a hold of him. I tried others in the dept but they just said that since they didn't mark the project or work with me on it that there was not much they could do, so i guess im just going to have to accept it and move on. My tutor was known for being a notoriously harsh marker so that offers some comfort!
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ell
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by ell » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:25 pm

Beggarsroost - glad to hear you are feeling a bit more positive about things, and are thinking about the next step.

Just to let you know that UCL want an average mark of 67% or above at undergrad, so you may want to rethink your choice there. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but best to find out now rather than waste an application.

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workingmama
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Re: Low Dissertation Mark

Post by workingmama » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:14 pm

ell wrote:Beggarsroost - glad to hear you are feeling a bit more positive about things, and are thinking about the next step.

Just to let you know that UCL want an average mark of 67% or above at undergrad, so you may want to rethink your choice there. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but best to find out now rather than waste an application.
Too true. Worth giving the potential courses a wee ring well before application season to double check any grey areas - I called one uni and got told I'd be an outright 'no' due to the grade of my first (non psychol) degree, despite a subsequent first in psychology - fair enough, and good to know before wasting a form.
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