Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Degree: 10% Complete!

Woah, that's a terrifying thought. But it was made official yesterday, when I submitted my first piece of graded work into the (very intimidating) Oxford Examination Schools. I even got this fancy receipt proving I'd done it in time for my noon deadline:


My program here at Oxford, unlike at most American universities, doesn't have classes with graded homework, quizzes, or exams. I do have classes, but they run in a participation-based pass/fail format, where it's expected that you'll come to every class prepared to discuss or even give a presentation on the (very hefty) weekly readings, but none of the week-to-week work you do actually counts towards your degree unless you don't do it and put yourself in danger of failing. 

Then, at the end of each term, my program requires an extended essay based in some way on the material covered over the course of the term. For the first term they went easy on us and actually set the deadline for the first day of winter term, but from now on they'll be due by the end of the quarter. Quite intimidatingly, the essays aren't read by the professors from your course (who know you and, presumably, know where you're coming from), but rather are looked at by an anonymous board of examiners--thus the fancy submission process. It all feels a little cloak and dagger compared to the Stanford way of submitting exams, which was... email. 

Some degrees do have exams, for which you're required to dress up in your full subfusc/Harry Potter gown. Part of me is pretty sad that I'm missing out on that Oxford experience... But just part, haha.

Of course the due date for this essay, which from a grade perspective will encapsulate my entire first term at Oxford, had to link up with me being heavily medicated and out of it. I had been pretty happy with the first draft I'd written but knew it needed some work, and have now been in a semi-panic since I turned it in that the 'edits' I did the night before it was due under the influence of large doses of Nyquil might not have been the most helpful changes I could have made. Oh well.... What's done is done. If I get my essay back with an abysmal mark and big 'what were you thinking??!!' question marks all over the front, I'll know where I went wrong...

In better news I'm starting to feel better again, after a pretty horrid day yesterday. I'm currently aiming for a Thursday return to society at large; fingers crossed!

7 comments:

Hannah said...

Wow, that sounds like such a sensible and way-more-enjoyable approach to class-running.

Katherine Erickson said...

I agree! I would say that it makes the few things you get graded on that much more stressful, but it's an ok price for me to have a little bit more sanity during term-time. Oxford really stresses independent learning which is one of my favorite things about it.

Kate said...

That sounds a lot less stressful than running around campus going from one exam to another.

Aoife said...

Congrats, you're well on your way now!
Sorry I haven't been able to keep up with your adventures with Marcel - I hope you feel better real soon though!

L.Williams said...

If I get into my program its going to be kinda similar in that, we do have classes for like all day for a month and after that its work on your thesis and check in time to time for the next 3 years... lol Which I prefer independent study anyways. I'm always better at structuring my own time.

Pam said...

The online Masters program I'm doing through U of Edinburgh is similar. We have two assignments during the semester, one about halfway through, one at the end. We turn them in with just our exam #s on them, so they're anonymous. Then, the grades we get are provisional until the exam board meets in August. I'm really hoping they don't drop my A for Awesome down to F for Failure.

T Myers said...

congrats on the first bit done! Glad you are feeling better.

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