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Dedalus Offline
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Name: Joe
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Posts: 431
Blog Entries: 3
Join Date: January 23rd 2010

treated unfairly by my university. - October 20th 2010, 08:40 PM

This mght actually be more of a rant, but how fucked up is my degree?

I've had this problem pressing against my mind for the last couple of weeks. Its like someone has turned a light in my head. I addressed it today with my dissertation supervisor who was also the module organiser a couple of years ago. Its about the standard of my degree and the way the university organises it.

I read a joint major in Greek & Roman Civilisation and Archaeology. The university doesn't offer GRC as a single honours major. I chose archaeology because I was quite interested in it and I weighed the values of a mjor/minor in GRC/Archaeology and a joint major. For the sake of a module difference between the two in a Major/Minor and how little a Minor is recognised I opted for a joint major, which I still think was the better option.

But from the outset I thought this joint major idea was a little ambiguous, because are you really only getting half a degree in each?

I'm in my third and final year now and I really don't feel competent in either field even though I will almost certainly graduate with a First. I think the whole way my university has set up BA's is ridiculous.

My university has this ridiculous thing in first year where you do the liberal arts omnibus program whereby you pick 3 or 4 subjects and get your 60 credits - you need 10 credits to major in a subject. So immediately from the outset your degree choice has all this shit you don't want in it. I originally thought it was a good idea at first because it allows you to really find out what you want - but you shouldn't be going to university if you don't know what you want to do - and most people don't seem to. So first year provided little grounding in your one or two subjects AND THATS A THIRD OF YOUR DEGREE in time, i.e. a BA is 3 years.

The other fucked up thing is you might have a couple of core modules you have to do and the rest are options. So for instance I missed the whole Cicero/Julius Caesar/Pompey module in first year due to timetable clashes and yet in second year I did the module that led on from that - Augustus, Tiberius, etc. Not only that, but due to option modules and stuff they try and cram everything in - Homer & his World module was half the Homeric Epics and then half a study of his contemporary world. And people who didn't take that module would graduate with GRC and not have read the Homeric epics!

The other thing is because its half and half in GRC I haven't read works by the two Plinys, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Herodotus, Aristophanes, Aristotle, Apollonius, Archimedes, Xenophon, Seneca, &c. - and they're not offered as modules either even thought they're central to Grekk and Roman civilisation! And to add salt to the wound, I have a module on Ancient Medicine and the Hippocratic Corpus, though talked about in the lectures, is not on the reading list! - we're not even using a primary source relevant to the module. The other thing is if you don't take a module you don't know anything about that topic when you graduate - and these topics are far too broad. We vaguely touched Athenian democracy in first year (again if you didn't take that module you missed out) and I went to the effort of really reading about that and how it worked and am the only person in my year who knows the intricacies of it.

Finally, GRC is studied through English translation. We are studying Greek and Roman history and we don't even touch the languages. If you want a language you have to do it as another major - and Ancient Greek isn't even offered to major in.

So they're my gripes with GRC, but archaeology is even worse. Its so disjointed and modules just go from focusing on Europe to Ireland and Britain and there seems to be no connection between modules. I am graduating in May and I haven't been on an archaeological dig - how am I going to get a job in archaeology if I want one if I haven't been on a dig and done the practical work? There are digs but they're in the summer when I need to work to get money for university - and these digs are reserved for people doing single honours so almost the whole spaces are taken up by them. Secondly a dissertation was reserved for single honours students only and I managed to get that revoked when I had a go at the head of the school of archaeology saying how can you major in something and not do a dissertation? He couldn't explain himself.

The last fucked up thing which I had thought was the best thing in the world until recently was that the university offers 2 elective moodules per year, which are modules that you can do outside of your degree area. So in addition to having a largely irrelevant first year and not getting a lot of important modules you have 2 useless ones each year as well. These could have been two modules of your degree if they didn't exist.

And just to show how sub-standard the degree is here, an Ancient Medicine which is a LEVEL 3 MODULE lecture spent 25 minutes explaining how to write an essay. This was directed to people who have been in a BA for THREE YEARS.

I wouldn't mind half as much, but my univeristy has an excellent name. I know a girl who got her job with this university's degree over people who got a First from other unis even though she got a 2:1.

So I outlined this politely to my supervisor and its been something I've been getting increasingly worried about the more I realise the less I know. I told him that once I graduate I'll be competing with people from the UK who studied Classics in its proper form for MA places. I think he must know that its a shit degree and that I outlined all its weaknesses. He said that people are beginning to realise that teaching Classics with 3 hard years of Greek and Latin isn't the best option, with this you get a much greater emphasis on the sociological, historical and archaeological aspects as well as the literature. In Ireland the MA is structured so that you pick up Greek and Roman then. He said they can't offer a single honours course because of the way the university has structured a BA and if they could it would include all the primary sources I mentioned. He told me that my standard is above what most other BA's have and that I'm expecting too much from my BA.

He then said, and this has made my fucking blood boil, that we have an excellent MA on offer...and it obviously meant that after I mentioned competing with BA's in Classics in Britain for MA's in Classics there that I won't get in, because of the Latin and Greek issue....so this fucking university which has the worst BA imaginable is the best university to come out of with an MA. Its ridiculous that the BA I come out with gives me no greater options than the institution I'm in. (so long as I'm looking at Classics).

I think he realised that I've clocked the system and the degree out and saw what it leads to and the SIGNIFICANT drawbacks of it. I'll have a First in what is essentially a sub-standard degree that has somehow been recognised as one of the best in Ireland...yet is completely useless in the UK because of what I'm saying it is. I am fucking devastated. I CANNOT BELIEVE I DIDN'T REALISE THIS EARLIER.

Jesus fucking christ, what use is a degree in Greek and Roman Civilisation? All it proves is I can read and I can write an essay.....what on earth was I thinking???? I was envisaging a fairly prolific MA at a better university in England - King's, Manchester, was even thinking of Oxford after the Professor who handles my scholarship mentioned I should apply for Middle Eastern Studies there when I suggested that as an MA. Well they've gone out the fucking window, so all I have to look forward to is a PhD at one of those if I continue with Classics....I worked so hard to stay at a First and to keep prospects open. I got the scholarship. I've been involved with the institute of Hellenic studies at Athens, I've fallen in with the right people for references I've even been invited to the Royal Irish Academy meetings - and all of this to get my MA in a high class institution and NOBODY told me how useless GRC is until I fucking clocked it.

What use is a degree in archaeology without having gone on a dig? How am I going to get employed in archaeology with that? I was thinking of what I just wrote above, so I turned to the thought of archaeology and maybe doing that for a year or two before applying for an MA to earn a bit of money and maybe get on a dig in the Middle East to support and get a taste for that if I want to apply for that MA.

I think my supervisor could tell I wasn't too pleased, especially after working so hard and he knows I have and he knew I had aspirations and wanted to go places....oh my god, I am still reeling...I told him I think I'm going to take a year or two out before my MA. I'm going to read and learn what I didn't get to in this BA.

Who do I complain to? This is really fucking bad isn't it? - How can the university set this kind of thing up and just not have it obvious that its useless. Even my own mother who scrutinises everything didn't notice it - she thought this was the best place. They've put me in the position where if I want a well recognised MA I have to do it here - both of my majors are completely useless and whichever road I go down I'll get the real employment skill from an MA.

Who do I complain to? I have to give out to someone about this. And what the fuck can I do about it? The supervisor didn't really discount anything I said, he just worked his round it, but am I wrong or incorrect in any way?

Last edited by L'espoir; October 20th 2010 at 09:27 PM. Reason: Innapropriate title
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