Low dissertation grade disappointment

(38 Posts)
isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 11:29:10

I am wondering if anyone has any experience?
My dissertation went off sick just before submission but was happy with my work and had a lot of input into what I included.
My newly appointed tutor read over my final copy and gave me positive feedback, said she enjoyed reading it and gave me some tips for 'extra marks' but over all was happy.
Yesterday o got my grade back and it is exceptionally low with a mark of 45.
I am absolutely shocked and devastated. Some of the comments are inaccurate, asking why I haven't included dates ( that are clearly there) and asking who someone is when in the previous paragraph I have introduced the author and explained his role.
There are comments questioning why I have included information that was suggested by my first tutor and praised but my new tutor just before submission?
There are also the last 17 pages that have no comments at all, not even a tick to show they have been read?

Do I have grounds for an appeal for it to be remarked?
There is no name attached to say who first marked it but it states it has been moderated but my new tutor.
Surely it is her role to ensure the comments are fair ( how can they be if she though to was ok?)
If anyone has any advice I would be very grateful, I was on target for a 2:1 and this has pulled my mark down massively

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isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 17:54:14


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MiladyThesaurus Tue 23-May-17 18:00:03

You won't be able to appeal on the basis that you disagree with the academics' judgment. And in a dissertation document, I wouldn't expect to find annotations of marks on every page. You can only appeal if the procedure hasn't been followed.

Remember that your new tutor will probably have been giving you comments to boost your confidence so that you can make the changes s/he suggested (tips for extra marks is really suggestions for improvement). Just before submission is not a great time to tell a student that there's a big problem that requires a change of direction.

Other than some minor comments about dates etc, what are the major issues that they outlined in the feedback? If they've agreed a mark of 45 then it's likely that they've flagged up some significant issues.

MiladyThesaurus Tue 23-May-17 18:01:06

I am sorry to hear you're disappointed with your mark though. It's hard when you've put so much work in for it not to come off like you hoped it would.

Bluntness100 Tue 23-May-17 18:01:07

I do t understand why you are posting on mumsnet. Make an appt go and speak to your tutor about it. Your university will also have a student support group who can advise you, and there will also be faculty members available to talk you through it.

Have you spoken to any staff or support at the university?

isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 18:13:29

I have emailed my tutor, over 24 hours ago and am yet to have a response from her.
I have also requested an appointment with the student union.
I posted here in the 'education' section, in the hope of some advice? Isn't that what this forum is for?

The tips were literally just move this bit from here to there and you have written women instead of woman in chapter 5. They were no major changes needed. She said it was really good.

Would you really expect no comments for 17 pages?

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Superhotpoet Tue 23-May-17 18:13:45

Hi there

I have created an account to answer this. Almost the exact thing happened to me some years ago. I got every note, message etc from the original dissertation supervisor together plus a summary of every mark from every assignment to show the standard of my work. I went straight to the head of the faculty (bypassing several levels of tutor, etc) and said I wanted to formally challenge my dissertation mark. It was re-marked by an independent person and made the difference between me getting a 2.2 and a 2.1. The supervisor who had given me the poor mark did everything to try and make me accept the mark. Do not waste any time, get up as high as you can and make the point that all your feedback had been that you were hitting a high standard. Good luck, if you let this go now you will be short changed for the rest of your career.


isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 18:23:55

Thanks so much for that it's really helpful to hear! And thanks for taking the time to offer your experience.

The major issues were the things listed above along with
Issues surrounding referencing and lack of critical development of ideas.
My dissertation tutor saw my referencing and said the only thing wrong was that one spelling.
She also praised my analysis.
The other one was poor research methods. Which is something she commented on in particular as a strength in our last conversation before submission.
There was also a question about why I was expanding on an idea and discussing terminology
When the chapter was called: exploring terms

Honestly I'm baffled by it all.
The first 25 pages have got comments and ticks everywhere and then the last 17 have nothing

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LizTaylorsFabulousTurban Tue 23-May-17 18:44:15

Did your original tutor give you an indication of classification ("really good" is fuzzy and I am careful not to add any value judgement when I give feedback to my students to avoid this type of situation). Dissertations are normally second marked, the markers meet and compare feedback and grade, and then a selection will be moderated by your dissertation module leader. There should be a robust process, and if you feel that this has not been followed then that is your grounds of appeal. In my experience, when there is a complaint the module tutor will double check with the two markers that procedure has been followed, and then read (but not mark) the submission before replying to the student. However, at this point it is very very rare for a mark to be changed.

You could also speak to the dissertation module leader about the disparity in supervision that you have received. However, this may also not change your mark.

However, I would say that there are several shades of "good". If I have a student that has clearly been struggling previously but has brought their work up to an acceptable standard then I would consider that an achievement. Is this very different to your other marks? What did you hope to achieve for this piece of work?

I would also say that 24 hours is not a long time to wait for a reply. Your tutors will be marking, they will be attending exam boards and preparing external examiner packs. What are the SLA for replying to emails in your department - we have 4 working days, so if I had received your email I would not necessarily have replied yet either.

isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 19:23:30

I'm not an ace student my any means but my grades seem to vary between 58 and 68 with a couple of lower ones ( one when my daughter was having surgery and one that was just bad) but I've passed everything.
The impression I was left with was it was goof good, she didn't mention a classification as she said she wasn't the first marker bit she said
I really enjoyed it
I read it twice
There are just a couple of things and these are really just for those 'extra marks' ( these were very minor tweaks)

Maybe I read it wrong but I was expecting a 55 or more really.

In one paragraph I state 'jo blogs first introduced the term in he text bla bla bla although this term is now frowned upon for he purpose of this dissertation I will use the term when referring it no blogs......and the comment is 'it is not clear who no blogs is)

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isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 19:25:50

Would it be usual to mark the first half decide it's rubbish and not bother to read the rest?
That is what it looks like, and it doesn't say who marked it only that it was moderated but my new tutor.
Maybe I'll have to suck it up but it's a bitter pill to swallow as it's gonna pull me down to a 2:2 rather than he 2:1 I was on track for I think.

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Bluntness100 Tue 23-May-17 19:29:15

Ok, so jo blogs wrote a given text, does that text he wrote and uou referenced make it clear who he was?

I'm just trying to think why they would add that comment?

Bluntness100 Tue 23-May-17 19:30:01

I don't think uou have to suck it up, challenge it, I don't think you have anything to lose.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 23-May-17 19:30:25

There's nothing wrong with seeking clarification on the mark, and you should if you feel this way. Your university will have some guidelines on marking and classing available somewhere - go and find them, and read the section on dissertations. It'll help explain some of the process, and then you can make sure you understand how the mark should have been arrived at.

I don't think there's anything odd about 17 pages having no marks on - FWIW, I rarely put marks on students' work as I like to keep pages clean for me to re-read, so often, if I'm engrossed in the marking process, I won't put much onto the script. Doesn't mean I wasn't taking notes or assessing what was there. So I'd ignore that.

Is it possible the comment about dates doesn't refer to what you think? For example, might it be that although you included a date, the marker thought it was inaccurate, expected it to be more precise, or expected there to be more dates given for more events? Likewise, is it possible that the note querying who someone is, is an indication that the earlier paragraph wasn't clear enough?

I do think it's really difficult when you have a really different expectation of the final mark than your tutor. Did the tutor definitely know that your marks were mostly in the 2:1 range, and did you ask how this dissertation compared with your record to date?

It sounds very frustrating for you, so please don't think I'm trying to sound negative - just trying to think of the things that might explain what's happened, and the things you might want to ask about, if you have a change to seek feedback.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 23-May-17 19:34:37

Sorry, I took so long writing I cross posted.

A mark of 45 if you expected 55 sounds low, but not impossibly low.

I'd understand the comment about not knowing who Joe Bloggs is as a question requiring you to justify a bit more. I don't know what subject you're in. But if I were marking something, I'd want to know why you're retaining an anachronistic term used by Bloggs, and I'd want to know who he is that you feel the need to retain his terms - eg., are you saying he's a significant thinker and you can't discuss the topic without using his terms? Or are you arguing he's someone whose terminology is quite difficult to unpick, and so you want to retain the term so that you can interrogate it? Or do you think he was right all along, because you're reassessing his significance, and so you want to retain the term?

All of those possibilities would require a clear indication of who you think Bloggs is/how you think he's significant, and not just the fact that it's a term he coined.

Bluebiscuits Tue 23-May-17 19:38:09

I agree- definitely challenge the mark as otherwise you'll always be left wondering whether you deserved a higher mark. I agree its very odd the last part has no comments.

Fink Tue 23-May-17 19:55:32

If you're going to see someone in college, make sure you go armed with exactly why you think it needs to be remarked. It's not enough to say you disagree with the mark and think it hasn't been marked thoroughly (last 17 pages), bring evidence, as a pp said above:
all your other marks, printed on a sheet together so that the convenor (or whoever) can see at a glance that all your other marks have been significantly higher
a list (preferably typed and ready on a sheet that you can leave with the tutor) of the specific comments on the dissertation that you think are unjustified (criticism of referencing when things are correctly referenced, not including dates etc.)
written evidence (if you have it) of your previous tutor's comments, or if not then you type up the comments from your notes, with dates and any other specifics you have.

Have you got a mark sheet with what areas of the dissertation have been graded in what way?

It is not your tutor's role, by the way, to make sure the original comments are 'fair'. Read your university's marking policy but the usual procedure would be for a dissertation to be double blind marked, meaning each person marks it independently and, if the marks they have given differ, they agree on a mark, asking a third opinion if necessary. A selection of the dissertations will also be third marked by an external examiner for quality control. You shouldn't know who the markers are (officially - it may be that the department is so small that you can be pretty sure who they are in practice) and the markers shouldn't see your name, although they may have read drafts as in this case and so in practice know who you are. If your university's marking policy is significantly different from this you might want to investigate it.

MiladyThesaurus Tue 23-May-17 20:03:01

25 pages do have comments on them. Of the last 17 pages how many were references and appendices?

A lack of critical analysis and a weak methodology would definitely explain a low mark in a dissertation.

Just because you included a chapter called exploring terms doesn't necessarily mean that it was clear why you were expanding upon an idea and discussing terminology. As LRD suggests, it may be that you needed to be much clearer about why you were using what (from what you've said on this thread) is outdated or problematic terminology and who Joe Bloggs actually is. Just including his name isn't the same as explaining and justifying his significance (and that of his terminology).

I also agree that being annoyed about a response taking more than 24 hours is a bit unreasonable. I understand you're upset but your tutor will be snowed under at this point in the year and most likely won't be responding immediately.

It would be a good idea to ask for clarification about your mark from your supervisor. Then you can decide what you want to do.

Is the issue that you feel that your supervisor misled you? But do remember if previous drafts were weak, the supervisor may be commenting on the quality in relation to that. We have to tailor our advice to the particular students we're supervising. So I'll give quite different advice to my really strong supervisees than I would to the ones who are actually doing well if they manage a 45.

MiladyThesaurus Tue 23-May-17 20:08:04

My university does not mark dissertations anonymously. They're double marked because it's not anonymous. And then subject to internal and external moderation to ensure consistency.

Also, sometimes students do worse on their dissertations than in other work. It's a different kind of task and sometimes it just doesn't click with some students (however much input the supervisor has). On the other hand, some students really excel (whatever that means for them) in their dissertation when their other marks have been less good.

A list of marks in the region 58-68 with some lower marks does not preclude a 45 in a dissertation, especially if one of the issues is a weak methodology and another is a lack of clarity over the purpose of a terminology all chapter.

Fink Tue 23-May-17 20:16:39

My university does not mark dissertations anonymously.

Sorry, yes, I should have made clear: I was giving an example marking policy and saying to investigate the marking policy at the uni in question. It won't necessarily be double blind, but it still not the job of the second marker to assess the fairness of the first marker.

MiladyThesaurus Tue 23-May-17 20:24:02

Oh yes. That's not their job. We aren't there to police each other.

The markers simply have to mark the dissertation and then agree a final mark (and comments). There (should) be some record of the moderation process and their initial and agreed marks.

Sometimes there is a big difference of opinion and one marker comes round to another's way of thinking in the moderation process. Other times both markers are really close. Occasionally they can't agree and a 3rd marker gets involved.

MaudGonneMad Tue 23-May-17 20:27:15

Most universities do not permit an appeal of an academic judgment, only if there has been some issues with the process of marking/moderation.

Also agree that 45 is not an outlier of a mark for many students in the 2:2/2:1 boundary. Dissertations, as a longer piece of work, often exposes weaknesses.

MaudGonneMad Tue 23-May-17 20:27:25


illneverknowwhereigo Tue 23-May-17 20:38:45

Is there any chance they haven't marked the entire thing, just the first 25 pages?

I know it sounds ridiculous but that happened to me in Uni with an exam paper...I write reams and reams in exams. I got told I'd failed my first year exams - when I queried it it turned out they had lost my entire second booklet of extra pages.

Whoever had marked it just stopped at the first booklet, although it was clear I was in mid-sentence hmm and failed me as I only answered 2 out of 4 questions.

I saw the Dean, who investigated, found the rest of the booklet and lo and behold I had actually got a high 2:1.

isittimetogotobed Tue 23-May-17 20:45:44

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply.
I will take on board and reflect on the comments from those of you who mark these type of things and then re read it tomorrow.
I need to be clear that I have a valid point rather than just wishing it was better than it was.

I put so much into it and my original tutor who went off sick emailed me to say what a good student I was and how good I'll be in the job. So I don't feel it was just me 'assuming' I'd get a half decent grade.

My friend changed her mind in her topic two weeks before the deadline and finished last minute with first.
Oh well, I still come out with a degree and I have a job secured so there is much to be thankful for.

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