Minutes of Meeting on 26/04/2017

In attendance: Bjoern Franke (Director of Teaching), Paul Anderson (UG1 Course Organiser), Christophe Dubache (UG3 Course Organiser), Jennifer Oxley (Computing Support), Sharon Goldwater

Bjoern and Sharon have been in discussion about setting up a survey for MSc Students to find out what the students expectations are when they start their courses, are their expectations met? is the courses meeting with what their expectations are when they apply for course and what the expect from their Degree. This will be different from the PTES survey University wide survey which closes on the 16th June, this one will be specifically for Informatics information only and is intended to directly inform changes of the MSc programme. The plan is to open the survey soon and close it towards the end of May.

BIO2 coursework 2 – the students felt the feedback was quite brief and would have liked more information.

There was more discussion about how the IRP and IRR courses were graded. Previously both IRR and IRP were pass/fail, where course credit was considered for progression/degree classification, but the no course mark was considered for the calculation of averages. The University has changed regulations and pass/fail courses now count towards averages (where a pass counts as a mark of 50%). In order to enable students to obtain a better mark than 50% and to encourage early focus on the project we changed IRP to carry a numerical mark rather than to keep it pass/fail. IRR is different in that nuanced marking of a literature review is difficult and the School would encourage students to focus on training this skill rather than worrying too much about marks. Hence, we kept pass/fail classification for IRR. The School continues to review its arrangements for both IRR and IRP, though.

It was also mentioned that deadlines cluster at the end of semester. Bjoern said this is to some extend unavoidable since some pieces of coursework can only be handed out or started once the material has been covered in the lectures and students also require sufficient time for working on the coursework. Generally, this problem is related to short semesters (please also see this document for last year’s consultation on the structure of the academic year:  www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/consultation_document.pdf). The School is looking to reducing assessment via coursework for the future.

The students would like more revision material to be made available or some kind of clarification on what slides would be useful to the exam. They have asked the lecturer with no response.

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19 Responses to Minutes of Meeting on 26/04/2017

  1. s1668298 says:

    So IRR now counts towards our average even though it’s not graded, just given pass/fail mark?

  2. s1678551 says:

    Will the IRR grade of 50% be counted in our average or not? For example, if a student has an average of 70% for all modules besides IRR, will this 70% be pulled down by the 50% grade of IRR?

  3. s1686853 says:

    >The University has changed regulations and pass/fail courses now count towards averages (where a pass counts as a mark of 50%)

    Seriously? Why would a course where it’s impossible to get more than 50% be counted towards our average? That’s just unfair.

  4. s1675946 says:

    “The University has changed regulations and pass/fail courses now count towards averages (where a pass counts as a mark of 50%).”
    — in my understanding, this means that IRR will actually lower your overall grade?

    Example for one semester: let’s say you get 50 credits with 100% score, and you pass IRP (50%, 10 credits). So your overall grade will be 550/6 = 91.67 — this seems a bit odd, doesn’t it?

  5. bfranke says:

    Please check the University’s Taught Assessment Regulations:

    Regulation 56 is the relevant regulation here. Part 56.4 talks about pass/fail courses: “In Regulation 56(a) above, where some of the 80 credits are pass/fail courses, then
    where these courses are passed, they can be included in the 80 credit total.
    However, a mark of 50% is the mark that is to be applied in calculations under
    Regulation 55 (b).”

    This means that IRR, which is a pass/fail course, contributes towards the 80 credit points required for progression to the dissertation stage. It also means that it counts as a mark of 50% towards the calculation of the average required for progression.

    • s1620691 says:

      Maybe a little odd question to ask – If (OK just if) I score 70% for both taught courses and project, but fail – for example – a 10-credit course, would I still be qualified for a distinction?

      • bfranke says:

        Again, the Taught Assessment Regulations prescribe what happens here. Regulation 60 says: “Taught postgraduate degrees may be awarded with distinction. To achieve a distinction, a student must be awarded at least 70% on the University’s Postgraduate Common Marking Scheme for the dissertation, if the programme has a dissertation element, and must pass all other courses with an average of at least 70%. Borderlines, for both the dissertation and course average elements, are considered for distinctions.”

        • s1247932 says:

          Dear Björn,

          could you, please, confirm that what Frank Keller wrote below is really the case? After the student rep meeting on Wednesday, I was under the impression that the 50% are considered when calculating the overall average across the whole MSc, while Frank is reassuring us that they do not. And if Frank is right, what is the reason for not making IRP pass/fail and have the same rules apply to it as for IRR?

          Sorry for bothering you with this, it would just be good to clarify it for once and for all 🙂

          And thanks a lot for your time,

          • bfranke says:

            Hi Ieva, hi all,
            It seems I have cause more confusion rather than providing clarification. Frank is correct!
            The 50% mark for pass/fail courses such as IRR counts towards the average required for progression, i.e. the decision whether or not students are allowed to continue after the exams and to start with their project. However, the IRR mark is not considered for the calculation of overall average at the end of your MSc programme and where a decision on distinction etc. is made.
            IRR and IRP were discussed together in a Board of Studies meeting last year and are likely to be discussed again in the future. When a course is numerically marked we often see that students are aiming to achieve a very high mark and put in lots of effort – sometime too much at the expense of neglecting other subjects. We feel that IRR is a course where a fundamental research skill – critical literature review – should be exercised. At the same time we want to give students the opportunity to explore an area to support them in finding an area for their MSc project. This, and also because of the fundamental difficulty of objectively marking IRR reports to a numerical granularity is extremely hard, we have decided to keep this a pass/fail course. On the other hand, we have noticed that some students tended to neglect IRP somewhat because it was “just” pass/fail. However, IRP is a critical preparation for the MSc project and dissertation. A low performance in IRP is a strong predictor for low MSc project performance. For this reason we have decided to put more emphasis on IRP to encourage students to engage early and seriously with their future project.
            I hope this finally clarifies the issue!

  6. s1579563 says:

    ‘The University has changed regulations and pass/fail courses now count towards averages (where a pass counts as a mark of 50%).’
    When was this update to regulations made?

  7. keller says:

    IRR is marked pass/fail. New university regulations force us to count a pass as 50, and to take pass/fail courses into account for progression (ie. for deciding whether a student can proceed from the taught part of the course to the dissertation phase).

    To progress, a student needs an average mark of 50 or above over all courses (120 points in total) and a mark of 50 or above in 80 points worth of courses. IRR counts for this, with a mark of 50. But as the threshold is 50 anyway, students are not disadvantaged by this.

    For the overall average across the whole MSc, i.e., courses and dissertation (this determines whether a student gets a distinction, a merit, or a pass), we are not required to include pass/fail courses, so we don’t include IRR in this average. Again, students are not disadvantaged.

    Frank Keller
    Convener of the MSc board of examiners

  8. s1018295 says:

    I am a 2-year part-time MSc student. When I undertook IRR in the 2015-2016 session, it was worth 20 credits, therefore I worked very hard to ensure I had a high mark on it (full marks). I am relieved at the clarification from Mr. Keller, as otherwise I would be faced with an average scaled by two 50% marks!

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