The formula for Masters Degree Grades

Written By

Think Postgrad

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do grades matter when studying Masters?
  • How hard is it to pass a Masters?

Masters degree grades follow a pattern, but the grading system for degrees varies from one country to another. Here’s what you need to know about the formula for masters degree grades when it comes to studying a masters in the UK.

What are masters degree grades?

Your Master's degree grades are determined by creating a weighted average. A combination of your results from different assignments that you have completed throughout the course will affect your overall master's degree grade. However, if you’re studying Integrated Masters, your grade will be calculated differently. In Integrated Masters, more weighting will be applied to the latter period of your studies.

Every piece of work is graded differently and different factors will affect your grade depending on the requirements. For example, an essay will be graded completely differently than a presentation or an exam.

Assignments that form part of a degree assessment are marked according to standards that are required by the validating body. In the UK this is the QAA. Some of these will be ‘double-blind marked’. This means that two lecturers or tutors will be reviewing your work and then agree on a grade they would like to give you.

Assessment and weighting

Masters degrees in the UK are worth 180 credits in total. You will earn your credits through a combination of modules, projects, and dissertation - some will be compulsory and some will be optional.

Each module is usually worth 10 to 30 credits depending on the length and the amount of assessment they require. Most universities will have different ways of splitting those 180 credits. For example, you may have six modules each worth 10 credits in your first year. Then get three modules that are worth 20 credits each in your second year and 60 credits for your dissertation in your third year.

Assessments can include:

  • Written assessments
  • Essays
  • Group Work
  • Examinations
  • Presentations
  • Bibliographies
  • Reflective journals

All the mentioned assessments will be weighted differently for each module. The formula for achieving your masters degree grades will depend on your professor, your university, and your chosen subjects.

Masters degree grades and your dissertation

Most universities will require you to do a postgraduate dissertation or thesis during the last year of your study. A dissertation will usually be worth around 60 credits or higher. A masters dissertation is a lengthy written study or piece of coursework on a topic chosen by a student.

While creating a dissertation, all students will be guided by faculty supervisors or professors and will require an extensive amount of time for research and writing. A dissertation is usually divided into chapters and will usually have around 15,000-25,000 words depending on the chosen topic.

In some universities, students might not be required to undertake a dissertation. In that case, students will be required to score highly throughout the rest of their course in order to graduate and finish their Masters degree.

Masters degree results and classifications

Once you have finished your Master's degree, your credits will then translate into either a Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail. Different universities may have different boundaries but as a general rule:

  • Distinction - 70%+
  • Merit - 60-69%
  • Pass - 50-59%
  • Fail - 40-49%

Students who study Integrated Masters will get different results from the one mentioned above. The grading for Integrated Masters will be similar to the grades given in a bachelor's degree:

  • First-Class Honours - 70%+
  • Upper Second Class Honours - 60-70%
  • Lower Second-Class Honours - 50-60%
  • Third-Class Honours - 45-50%
  • Pass - 40-45%
  • Fail - below 40%

How do I get a Distinction in my Masters?

To get a distinction in your Masters, you will need to have at least a 70% or higher grade by the end of your degree. Everyone has unique strategies on how to achieve a Distinction grade but here are a few things you can do to achieve your goal:

  • Don’t leave your coursework and dissertation to the last minute. Assignments are given in advance at university to help you prepare enough and do your best on each assignment. Plan ahead and have a proper schedule on when to do your assignments.
  • Make the most of the support available to you. You will have professors and supervisors who will be there to help you during your masters, reach out to them or other relevant academics for opinions, insights, and advice.
  • Research your dissertation topic thoroughly, do not choose a topic mainly because of your personal interest.
  • Explore different angles of various dissertation topics before you make your final choice.

Next Steps:

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