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What Are Good Marks At The Master’s Level?

Introduction

You have just finished your bachelor’s degree and are considering to peruse your education in a master’s program.

As you progress through this process, you may notice that the UK master’s grading system slightly varies from the bachelor’s system.

Four terms are typically used to grade a master’s degree:

  1. The final grade must be at least 70% to qualify for the distinction
  2. The final grade must be between 60 and 69% to be considered meritorious
  3. The final grade must be between 50 and 59% to pass
  4. The final grade must fall between 40 and 49% to be considered a pass/fail

A master’s degree is usually graded differently from a bachelor’s degree in the UK, with a distinction, merit, and pass system rather than a first, second, third, and fourth. According to the table, the two grading systems can be roughly compared as follows:

PercentageBachelors Degree GradeMasters Degree Grade
70%+1stDistinction
60-69%2.1Merit
50-59%2.2Pass
40-49%3rdFail/borderline pass

It does depend on the master’s course you are studying whether master’s degree grades are different from undergraduate degree grades. The most common three are as follows:

Grades For Master’s Degrees Integrated

After completing your undergraduate degree, you can pursue an integrated master’s. Typically, this happens in science, where you apply for a four-year course in your chosen field, then make your decision in your second year between a BSc and an MChem, MPhys, etc. You will receive either an A or B based on your grade, just like an undergraduate degree;

The first (1st);

The second class honors upper division (2.1);

The second class honors lower division (2.2);

The third (3rd) or the fourth (4th);

Failure.

Studies at later levels are weighted more heavily than those at earlier levels.

Master’s Degree Teacher

A taught master’s degree requires 180 credits made up of taught modules, projects, and a dissertation. According to their length and assessment requirements, master’s modules usually have between 10 and 30 credits each. Most commonly, taught master’s degrees are graded fail, pass, merit (or credit), or distinction, although sometimes they are merely graded pass or fail. Passing is usually defined as 50%, merit as 60%, and distinction as 70%, as shown in the table below. A detailed explanation of this system of grading master’s degrees will follow.

A Master’s Degree In Research

Typically, master’s by research (an MPhil or MRes, and sometimes a MLitt) grades are pass or fail, with some universities offering distinction as a classification.

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The Assessment & Weighting Process

There are usually 180 credits in a taught UK Master’s degree, which is divided into a variety of modules, some of which are compulsory and some of which are optional. It depends on the module’s length and the amount of assessment it requires, but typically a master’s module is worth 10-30 credits.

Types Of Assessments

Assessments in a module are weighted, and the grades achieved in them determine the grade for the module as a whole. Depending on the subject, you may have to complete coursework (such as an essay) or take an exam to test your knowledge of the subject.

You may be assessed on your ability to participate in taught classes as part of some Master’s programs. A presentation may be required, or you may be required to complete a practical placement or internship. All Masters courses are listed in our database with specific details.

The Weighting System

Each module may have different ‘weightings’ for assessments.

Each exam and piece of coursework may account for 50% of the grade for a module, for example. The grade a student would receive for the module would be 60% if he or she scored 55% on the exam and 65% on the coursework.

Another alternative is to give your final grade for the module a smaller percentage for one assessment.

In The Dissertation

Postgraduate dissertations or theses conclude most Masters’s programs. Research or practice that you conduct in your own time is the basis of this substantial piece of coursework. The UK typically examines dissertations as written assignments. Your work will usually be marked by an external examiner (from a different university). It is not uncommon for dissertation assessments in Europe to include an oral exam. The purpose of this is to discuss your research and ‘defend’ your findings (just like the viva voce at the end of your PhD). You usually earn 60 credits for your dissertation (one-third of your overall grade). Other modules make up the other 120 credits required for a UK Master’s degree.

The Results Of The Degree Program & Classifications

Masters degrees in the UK are generally graded in the same way (with the exception of integrated courses). Unlike undergraduate grading, postgraduate grades are assigned differently. There is a similarity in grade boundaries, but there is a difference in degree classification labels. Distinction, Merit (or Commendation), Pass, and Fail are the four categories of master’s degrees. In the following table, typical Masters’s degree classifications are listed along with the grades required to achieve them, compared to undergraduate degree classifications.

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