Either if you are searching for a masters course or you are choosing an optional module throughout your degree, the postgraduate assessment format is one of the main factors while deciding. Who you are as a person affects how you deal with different situations and in which scenario you perform best. Fortunately, the University of York provides a variety of assessment tools to help students both challenge themselves, but also feel confident in their skills during the examination period.
Expectations for Postgraduate Assessments
As I am only halfway through my master’s degree, I haven’t encountered that many postgraduate assessments yet. Even so, there are definitely some key differences that I have noticed compared to undergraduate level:
- Meaningful research studies – there is likely that there will be an expectation that the topic that you choose to explore for your assessment has to bring something new to the academic world; it has to be innovative and tackle current issues.
- Independent work – although there might be overall fewer lectures and seminars, your independent study will increase significantly.
- Use appropriate referencing – remember when you forgot to write a page for a quote or mention the source in-text in your essay, and you still got an overall good mark? Well, higher education means higher standards, so give yourself enough time to double-check everything.
Postgraduate Assessment Methods
As previously mentioned, there are different formats when it comes to postgraduate assessments. I have listed the most common ones in the diagram below. Depending on the module and course (taught or research), you may have to write essays and/or take exams, but an individual study project (ISM) is always included in postgraduate courses (i.e. dissertation). Usually, there will be one assessment that will count 100% for the module that you are taking. However, there is also a possibility to have cumulative assessments throughout the term which will count for the overall grade.
Grades And Resits
The University of York has the following mark scale for postgraduate work:
|Distinguished performance at postgraduate level:||70-100||Distinction|
|Good performance at postgraduate level:||60-69||Merit|
|Satisfactory performance at postgraduate level:||50-59||Pass|
|Marginal fail (potential to compensate):||40-49||Fail/Compensated pass|
In case of failure, DON’T PANIC! There are opportunities to achieve the credit required either by resit or compensation (when eligible). In order to pass a module at the postgraduate level, the mark for assessments should be 50 or above. However, in case of a marginal fail (i.e. 40-49), other modules could compensate for this (if you passed on those). If your mark is between 0-39, compensation is not possible, but there is always a chance to resit your assessment. This usually takes the same format as the original one (i.e. if you had to write an essay, your resit examination will be an essay as well).
What I like about the University of York is that they always put students first, so even in cases of emergencies or if additional advice is needed, options are available. I have listed below what kind of assessment support is provided:
- Feedback – usually module leaders offer a chance to write a formative assessment before the summative one, so you can understand which skills you need to improve. In addition, they often accept essay plans (i.e. a short, bullet point scheme) to check if your idea is good enough.
- Extensions and exceptional circumstances – if, for certain personal reasons, you might not be able to complete your assessments, you have the right to extend the deadline (depending on your situation this might be between a couple of days or a couple of weeks).
- Academic and dissertation supervisor – throughout the year, you will be assigned a supervisor who you can contact in case of any academic issues you might be facing. For your dissertation, you will have an additional supervisor who is usually an expert in the topic you have chosen to explore. This is so you have more specialised guidance.
- Wellbeing – if you ever feel overwhelmed, remember to take a breath and believe in yourself, but if you need extra support the university provides in-person mental health services or just some online tips that you can access from anywhere.
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