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This Category: > PhD Advice / Support


PhD with a pass/merit for MSc

User: Natassia - 12 February 2010 19:12

Hi, I'm doing my MSc now and in the process of applying for a PhD position, either a full time studentship or part time self funded. Obviously I would definitely prefer to do it full time, however my choices are limited due to the field I am in (psychosocial studies) and the current economic climate.

I have a first class BA however I think my Masters is going to let me down, before Christmas I had a lot of family-related stress and am now on antidepressants, I definitely haven't done as well as I could have so probably won't get the distinction I hoped for, I'd be very pleased with a merit at this stage. I'm just worried about whether that will be enough to do a PhD with, and getting questioned about my grades slipping during an interview. If I don't get funding it won't be the end of the world, but it would be disappointing. I have an interesting research idea that I have received very good feedback about from my current tutors, but I am still developing a strong enough proposal. Any advice appreciated, Natassia x

User: keenbean - 12 February 2010 19:23

Hey Natassia! I honestly think you will be fine with a merit. You have a great first degree and a merit is the MSc equivalent of a good 2.1, so you're still going to be a very strong candidate. I know what you mean about wanting a distinction to 'match' your first, but in all honesty a lot of people are offered fully funded PhDs whilst still doing their MSc on the basis of their first degree grade....and these offers are dependent on completing the MSc, but aren't dependent on getting a distinction in it. Do you have any grades back to indicate where you lie at the moment? I know people in other departments doing funded PhDs with 2.2s and a pass at MSc level- I know you're in a similar field to me where things are a lot more competitive than that, but I still think you're in a very good position to get a fully funded place. Certainly if you decided to self-fund then you will have no problem at all, but definitely go for the funding! Hope things are beginning to get a bit easier for you. Take care, KB

User: Natassia - 12 February 2010 19:38

Hi KB, thanks for replying. I don't have any grades yet, but should be getting some in 3 weeks which is a scary thought, I'm preparing myself for disappointment really. Like you said, it would be nice to match my first with a distinction but a tutor told me that grades can be considered as a snapshot of that moment in my life, things weren't going well then so it would have been reflected in my work, it was outside of my control. I am coming around to the idea that I shouldn't always blame myself for things, in the end I didn't go for any extensions as I wanted to enjoy the start of my second semester without having old work hanging over me, the guidance tutor said that I was doing the right thing for me and admired my professionalism which was quite nice, she said it would be a quality that PhD supervisors would appreciate.

Anyway, I'm not so worried about my MSc grade now, I don't even know what it is yet and hopefully if I have a better semester two and dissertation I can pull it up a bit, my tutors are all supporting my PhD aspirations which is reassuring, I'm sure they'd find a way to tell me if I wasn't good enough.

User: keenbean - 12 February 2010 20:16

I think you would know if they weren't keen! It sounds like they're really happy to support you and your PhD application, and from what I know of academics, they don't waste time on things they don't think will succeed! It's true- grades are just a reflection of how things are at that time. There is a lad on our team who failed his GCSEs twice, had to re-sit his A-levels, then got a place at a good uni, got an RA position, and has now just been awarded full funding for a PhD starting later this year. He's a smart guy, just things weren't so good for him when he was younger and taking his exams, but he's got there in the end! And people will appreciate that non-academic circumstances affect how you perform at times. When I had to break it to my (at the time potential) PhD supervisor that I had bipolar and had a long history of hospitalisations etc, she wrote me a lovely email saying that she admired my achievements all the more given what I had been through, and then proceeded to write on a reference that I had 'demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness on dealing with personal challenges' or something to that effect. So most people are human and will be understanding...sometimes life deals us some shit and we all just do the best we can at the time- and it sounds like you're doing a mighty good job of it! Best, KB

User: Ogriv - 12 February 2010 21:40

Hey Natassia

I could very well end up in a similar position... thought I could try for a Distinction, but think I've blundered in my dissertation (see my haunted posts from earlier this week!), so a Merit might be more likely now. I think the thing for both of us is to produce a sh*t-hot research proposal for our PhDs. We are both liked by potential supervisors, so let's go forward positively!



User: satchi - 12 February 2010 23:50

Hi Natassia
I'm sorry to hear that you've suffered some stress and had to go on antidepressants.
Please don't worry about your MSc. grades; a merit is a still good achievement. I would say, at this point, continue to work on your research proposal and look forward to the coming PhD interviews :-)

Remember that you need a break sometimes, away from the computer etc.
Remember also, that this depression or stressful condition is not permanent. It will eventually pass and you will emerge stronger than before.

Don't worry.
Oh yes, do something nice for yourself :-)
and post back here (tell us!)

User: Natassia - 14 February 2010 22:03

Hi KB, Ogriv and Satchi, thank you for the replies.

KB - I hope I'm doing a good enough job of it, I still need to tell my main tutor but I'm reassured from hearing your story, I also think that my tutors know me well enough to realise that I wouldn't disclose anything unless it was serious, my guidance tutor told me they would sympathise though. I think for me its partly a pride thing, but I'm learning to get over it.

Ogriv - good luck with your PhD application and your dissertation...I've barely started mine so you're doing better than me! I hope my potential supervisor does like me, but its very difficult to judge sometimes!

Satchi - I gave myself the day off yesterday and recharged my batteries a bit, went horse riding with friends in the morning then went shopping and walked the loads of fresh air and thinking time which was lovely.

Natassia x

User: Thinktwice - 22 March 2013 18:08

Hello Natassia,

I am currently facing the same thing as you did 3 years ago. I was wondering how things worked for you. Did you manage to achieve a merit or a pass finally? I am very afraid that a possible pass for me will ruin my future plans which were to apply for Doctorate for Counseling. I don't really care about the funding option (although it would have been great) but mostly if I would have a chance to be accepted for a doctorate. It will be great if you reply and advice me maybe on additional things that I should consider.

Best Regards,

User: Noctu - 23 March 2013 16:42

Well I can only describe my own situation, a mid 2:1 from a former Poly, an MSc pass (distinction in dissertation & research methods, and mid to high 60%s in everything else) from a former, different Poly, and I was accepted to a UK top 5 university for my PhD.

That sneaky £20 under the table at the interview helped too ;-)... !

User: Beekay - 26 May 2013 01:46

Quote From Noctu:Well I can only describe my own situation, a mid 2:
1 from a former Poly, an MSc pass (distinction in dissertation & research methods, and mid to high 60%s in everything else) from a former, different Poly, and I was accepted to a UK top 5 university for my PhD.

That sneaky £20 under the table at the interview helped too ;-)... !

Thanks for the advice, I'm sadly probably looking at a pass or a merit at best for my MSc, though I had a first class BA, I guess my hope lies in submitting a killer dissertation as I had a distinction in my research methods module. Maybe after all of that a PhD will be still within reach.

User: Swash - 17 December 2019 23:57

Please I need assistance on getting a PhD offer in aquaculture related course...though I have a 2.1 for BSc..pass in masters ..with a whole lot of experiences in the field even with some very notable publications..applied already for a PhD in Plymouth University and already had a prof who agrees to supervise my project but am scared hope the school wont turn down my application based on my masters degree? I need guide please

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