MA/MSc Students


 Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together a list of the most frequently asked questions below. If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please try the Moodle handbook or contact us. Please always include your student number when you write to us, so that we can help you more quickly and efficiently.  

Can I change my modules after the first week of term?

Once you have submitted your module choices on Portico you can no longer amend them yourself. If you need to add and/or delete a course, please contact Patrizia or Julia in the CMII office. Please note that after the end of the first week of term we only change modules in exceptional circumstances.

Who is my personal tutor and how often should I see them?

At UCL, every student is provided with a Personal Tutor, who takes an interest in them as an individual and who offers guidance on their overall academic progress and personal and professional development.

At the beginning of the academic year your MA/MSc convenor will assign you a Personal Tutor who is a member of the academic staff at UCL. You will be expected to meet with your Personal Tutor several times during your studies.

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs)

Principles of Personal Tutoring

1. Be approachable – it can be helpful to both students and tutors to establish when are good times and how to arrange meetings.

2. Listen – the tutor can’t be expected to solve all problems, but sometimes students need a listening ear and to make someone aware of issues they are dealing with.

3. Understand the issue – tutors need to be able to form a judgement as to the seriousness and extent of issues and may need to  inquire carefully to be confident they’ve understood as well as possible.

4. Empower the student – students often need some help in articulating their issues and exploring the options open to them but it is ultimately their own responsibility to decide on a course of action.

5. Know when to refer – personal tutors are not, usually, experts in providing specialist support for matters that are not directly related to study.  However, they should be able to help a tutee find and access the wide range of services offered by UCL.

What can you expect?

Students can expect….

Tutors can expect…..

Support to understand their own feedback and overall progress and agree actions to take in response to feedbackStudents to reflect on their performance and progress and come prepared to discuss academic progress and areas of concern
Support to understand how the Connected Curriculum applies to their course and the opportunities it presentsStudents to engage with the dimensions of the Connected Curriculum and to take opportunities to make connections for learning through research and enquiry
Tutors to be able to direct you to resources and support across UCLStudents to seek advice and support if they feel they are getting into difficulties, whether academic or personal
Encouragement in becoming a member of your discipline’s academic communityStudents to consult and use the tutor as an academic ‘sounding board’
Help with academic decisions at key points such as choosing modules, research projects and future plans.Students to be proactive in exploring options and planning ahead

Sharing expectations

It’s really important that you both agree how the relationship is likely to work best.
Is there a dedicated space just for postgraduate students?

The CMII Common Room is available for CMII MA/MSc students. It is located on the basement floor of 33-35 Torrington Place. This room is equipped with a kitchenette. You will need a key card to access the building.

What are the assessment criteria for essays?

Most assessed work is marked by two Internal Examiners and much of it is also seen by an External Examiner. Marks are finalized at a meeting of the Board of Examiners. The Pass mark for all MA/MSc papers and essays is 50%. Distinction requires a mark of 70% or more. The MA/MSc degree is awarded with Distinction if a candidate achieves an overall mark of at least 70% and a mark of at least 70% in the Dissertation. A student may be permitted to fail in one out of the four elements of the assessment, provided this element is not the Dissertation and the Core Course and the mark in the failed element is not below 40%.

We will give you a provisional mark, though this will not be confirmed until the final exam board which generally take place in October/November. We use the following scale:

Distinction (high: 75-85%): Outstanding. Shows total command of the material, original thinking, critical awareness, effective overall organisation, and pertinent and persuasive use of examples. The work is clearly articulated, concise and precise. Its structure is well-conceived and transparent. It includes a full, accurate and properly laid out bibliography.

Distinction (low: 70-75%): Well-organised use of most of the major points, with pertinent examples. Excellent coverage of debates, but also clear individual voice. Shows potential for original research and/or analysis. Demonstrated ability to formulate responses to questions in novel and relevant ways. Answers need not be `perfect': a distinction may be awarded to work which, though not faultless, exhibits exceptional intellectual qualities (sophistication; originality; judiciousness), and/or to work which possesses virtues of composition, knowledge, relevance and clarity to a markedly high degree. The work demonstrates thorough knowledge of the subject-matter, with evidence of independent critical thinking.The structure is well-conceived and transparent. There is a full, accurate and properly laid out bibliography.

Merit (60-69): A sensible and reasonable essay which covers major points, clearly expressed. Demonstrates good knowledge of primary material and firm grasp of critical debates and concepts, which are deployed as part of a broader argument. Analyses have both breadth and depth. Presentation good. May also display some faults, such as missing certain aspects of the question, containing patches of weaker material, or failing to articulate the writer's own views. Evidence of potential to proceed to further postgraduate research. The bibliography is acceptable.

Pass (50-59): The piece of work is relevant, shows signs of understanding, but nevertheless a rather thin or incomplete grasp of the material. Shows some capacity for independent and critical analysis, but may be poor in terms of individual research. Relevant but limited reading and use of examples and evidence. Presentation satisfactory: possible problems with e.g. use of English, referencing etc. Lacks evidence of ability to proceed to further postgraduate research.The bibliography is inconsistent or incomplete.

Condoned failure (40-49): Patchy understanding of the material, poor expression and/or structure, incoherent argument. Does not address the question or the title. Presentation poor: does not respect scholarly conventions. Embryonic bibliography only.

Fail (under 40%): The work shows little or nothing of relevance, hardly any grasp of the material, rambling and incoherent argument. No proper bibliography.

I forgot to sign the register – what do I do?

It is the student’s responsibility to sign the attendance register at the beginning of each class. If you have not signed the register, but have attended the class, please contact your course tutor immediately.

When is the deadline for my coursework?

All deadlines are listed on the Moodle handbook for your degree programme. Occasionally a deadline is changed. You will be notified by email if this occurs.

How strict is the word limit?

When you submit assessed coursework, you are required to state how many words you have written. MS Word has a facility for counting words, as do all other popular word-processing programmes. You must keep within the word limit prescribed on the CMII webpages and Moodle sites for specific courses. If you do not, you will be penalized. When you submit your work electronically, Turnitin may cite a higher figure than MS Word etc. Please do not be alarmed by this; provided that you have cited your word count at the beginning or end of your essay, we shall assume that this is the one you wish to submit.

Word-length penalties

UCL's rules for penalizing overlength assessed course work, including dissertations, are set out in Section 3.1.7 of the Examinations Regulations. These rules may be summarized as follows:

  • Assessed work should not exceed the prescribed word count.
  • Assessed work that is deemed to exceed the prescribed word count by more than 10% will be awarded a mark of 0%; the assessment will, however, be considered 'complete'.
  • For work that exceeds the upper word limit by less than 10% the mark will be reduced by ten percentage marks; but the penalised mark will not be reduced below the pass mark, assuming the work merited a pass. There is no tolerance range.
  • There is no penalty for under-length essays, but you are advised not to go too much under the word limit as you may risk not covering your topic in sufficient detail.
  • The word count includes footnotes, but excludes the bibliography and your title page, and any acknowledgments you may wish to add. It includes quotations, but not the translation of quotations in square brackets. It does not include the abstract, words in tables, pictures, graphs and similar supporting materials. You are allowed to include an appendix with relevant primary material. This appendix is also excluded from the word count.
How do I submit coursework?

All coursework for CMII / SELCS modules is submitted electronically via Moodle/Turnitin. We do not accept  submissions of hardcopies. When you log into Moodle, you should see the link to the coursework submission site for your programme. If you attend modules from another CMII programme, please use their submission site.

General Advice:

  • The deadline for all assignments is 4pm on the day of the deadline. Occasionally Turnitin can be slow, so it is advisable to not leave your submission to the last second.
  • We recommend submitting your coursework in .pdf format, especially if you use an Apple computer.
  • Please only use your candidate identifier when submitting coursework, never use your name or student number.

If you are taking modules outside CMII/SELCS you must make sure that you follow the procedures of the relevant departments.

Will I be penalized for submitting late?

If you submit after the deadline, you will incurr the following penalties:

Coursework submitted up to 2 working days late: 10 percentage marks, but no lower than 50%.

Coursework submitted 2 -5 working days late: mark capped at 50%.

No penalty will be applied for component marks of 0-49.99% when submited up to 5 working days late.

A mark of zero will be recorded for all coursework submitted more that 5 working days late.

I have failed a module. Will I still be able to get a degree?

If you have failed a module, please get in touch with your MA convenor and personal tutor to discuss this.

Up to 25% of the taught element (up to 30 credits on a taught pathway) in the mark range of 40 –49 may be condoned and an degree awarded. This decision is at the discretion of the Final Board of Examiners.

If your mark is below 40%, you will be offered a re-sit in the next academic year. This means that, if successful, you will graduate a year later than your peers.

I have had an accident or suffered an illness, a bereavement or another unforeseen circumstance which impacts my ability to study and/or submit coursework. What do I need to do?

In the first instance, please contact your MA convenor for advice. They will support you in determining the next steps. These might include submitting an Extenuating Circumstances form to ask for an extension on an assignment or submitting an Authorised Absence request form, if you need to take time off. They will also let you know what other support is available.

I feel overwhelmed/anxious/depresssed. What can I do?

For practical questions and support regarding your programme of study, please contact Patrizia and Julia. Patrizia also acts as Deolo for postgraduate students and can be contacted for information and advice on UCL's Equal Opportunities policies and practice.

If you are concerned about your academic performance, workload, coursework etc., please go to see your MA convenor and/or your personal tutor. You can contact them about an appointment or go to their office during office hours.

The Student Centre is part of UCL's Student Support and Wellbeing services and offers information and support to students enrolled on programmes of study at UCL and UCL alumni.

There are also lots of resources available to students who feel stressed, anxious or down during their studies at UCL. Student psychological services and student disability services offer different types of support, including a free phone helpline, short-term individual counselling and psychotherapy.

If you are concerned about the behaviour of a student or if a student has stopped engaging completely, and you believe that this may be due to health and wellbeing issues, please use the 'cause for concern form'

Useful contacts for UCL students

Student support website
• Online UCL student “Cause for Concern” form or email studentofconcern@ucl.ac.uk

UCL specific services

Student Disability services
Student Psychological Services

Out of Hours support

SSW services (and most of UCL) are available between 9am – 5pm weekdays
Outside of this, suggest students use ED or Care first: 0800 197 4510.

Who do I contact if I have to miss a class due to sickness / an urgent appointment?

Please inform your course tutor that you will not be able to attend his/her class. CMII has a minimum attendance requirement of 70%, students who fall below that may be barred from taking the assessment. If you are worried about meeting the minimum attendance requirement, please contact your MA convenor as soon as possible.

If you anticipate being away from UCL for more than two consecutive days, please submit an Authorised Absence Request form to your MA convenor (copy to Patrizia/Julia).

How can I apply for an extension?

Please fill out an Extenuating Circumstances Claims form and send it to your MA convenor (copy to Patrizia and Julia) together with any evidence you would like to submit in support of your claim. MA Convenors can grant extensions of up to one week only. Requests for longer extensions will be referred to the CMII/SELCS panel.

When will I get feedback on my work?

We aim to provide feedback within four weeks, but this may not always be possible. When marking is delayed, we will contact students to let them know. All marks are provisional until the Board of Exams which meets in October / November.

For more detailed feedback or to discuss feedback you have received further, please make use of the tutor's office hours which are listed on their website. If you cannot see them during their office hours, please contact them by email to make an appointment.

What happens on presentation day?

The presentation day is an occasion where all MA students will give a 10-15-minute presentation on their proposed dissertation topic, followed by questions (both from fellow students and members of staff). The presentation, as well as attendance throughout the day, is a compulsory element of the MA/ MSc programme. You must pass this oral element of the dissertation in order to proceed.

Presentations should:

  • Give a clear outline of the topic and of the research question
  • Introduce and explain the topic to those who are not necessarily experts in that field
  • State why this research question is significant
  • Outline the methodological approach

The presentation day will follow a conference format, with students assigned to panels. A timetable will be sent out in the weeks preceding presentation day.

How can I get help with academic writing?

The Writing Lab is a free service that aims to enhance students' writing and research skills. It is available for all undergraduate and Masters students across the Joint Faculties of Arts and Humanities and Social and Historical Sciences.

What is the procedure regarding my dissertation? How do I find a supervisor? When do I need to do what?

Although you will mainly be working on your dissertation during the third term and the summer months, we encourage students to start thinking about their dissertations early on and to think about possible topics and supervisors. The next step is to approach potential supervisors and discuss your ideas with them. Many students ask tutors who have taught them on their degree to be their supervisors, but you may also approach other members of the UCL academic staff who work on related subjects. If you are unsure about whom to approach, please ask your MA convenor for advice.

We ask students enrolled in the MA African Studies, MA Comparative Literature, MA European Studies, MA European Culture and Thought, MA Health Humanities, MA Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health and MA Film Studies to specify their choice of topic and the name of their supervisor by late February using the supervisor form which needs to be signed by their dissertation supervisor.

By the end of March we ask you to submit an abstract, using the abstract form.

CMII organises a dissertation presentation day which usually takes place in June. You will be asked to give a ten minute presentation in front of your peers and some academic staff members and to answer questions about your work. This presentation is a mandatory part of your programme.


Some MA programmes follow a different schedule. Please contact the people listed below for further information

MA Gender, Society and Representation – please contact a.varley@ucl.ac.uk

MA Early Modern Studies – please contact lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk

MA Translation, Theory and Practice – please contact a.connolly@ucl.ac.uk


I need to be away from UCL for more than 48 hours. What is the correct procedure?

 If you are absent from UCL for more than two consecutive days, you must fill out an Authorised Absence Form and submit it to the convenor of your MA (copy Patrizia/Julia). Full-time MA students are required to be at UCL until they submit their dissertation, including during the summer months. Part-time students are expected to be at UCL half of the time.  

How do I submit my dissertation?

Dissertations are submitted electronically on the Moodle/Turnitin page for your MA/ MSc programme. We do not accept hardcopy submissions. Please make sure to renew your UCL password during the summer months, because you will need it to log into the site.

I study part-time. When will I write my dissertation?

Part-time students usually submit their dissertation in their second year of study. Students on a flexible programme usually submit their dissertation in their final year.

I would like to do an internship during the summer. Is this possible?

As a full-time MA/MSc student you are expected to be at UCL for 12 months. Absences for over 14 days are not normally approved unless there are medical reasons. This means that you cannot do an internship during this period.

For more information, please have a look at this section in the academic manual.

Where can I get Career Advice?

Whether you know what you want to go into after UCL or haven’t got a clue where to start, UCL Careers can help you Find your Future. Last academic year, we held around 600 events and over 7800 one-to-one appointments.

As a taught postgraduate student you have access to:

  • Masters QuickFix! Sessions: one-hour lunchtime careers talks, to help enable Masters students to plan and develop their own career. Sessions include: Effective Applications; Find and Fund a PhD; PhD Applications; PhD Interviews; Planning Your Job Hunt; Succeeding at Interviews and Assessment Centres and Using Social Media With Impact. These sessions run every October, January and June.

In addition to this, all UCL students have access to:

  • Short 15-minute guidance sessions
  • CV and application checking
  • Practice interviews
  • Assessment centre practice
  • Employer events
  • Jobs, internships or placements
  • Careers fairs
  • Sector-themed weeks of events
  • Skills4Work Programme

Register for UCLAlert! our email updates and be the first to find out about jobs, events and what’s happening at UCL Careers.www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

Are there volunteering opportunities?

UCL has the one of the biggest volunteering departments in the UK – with over 400 different projects to choose from – so make the most of it whilst you're here!

As a SELCS student, volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and to gain experience of working with different types of people.  You'll get plenty of support and advice from both the Volunteering Services Unit and the student-run Volunteering Society.  Here's what they do: Volunteering Services Unit

  • Provide a weekly newsletter packed with new opportunities
  • Give support and advice to students and staff
  • Run our Student Led Projects programme
  • Host an online directory of all our opportunities
  • Send targeted roles to your department
  • Advertise one-off events
  • Manage the Voluntary Sector strand of  UCL’s Global Citizenship Programme
  • Run an annual Awards Ceremony to recognise volunteers

Volunteering Society

  • Run amazing socials and charity fundraising events
  • Provide information on volunteering abroad
  • Run an annual International Volunteering Fair
  • Have regular meetings to meet fellow volunteers and steer the society

The Next Step...              

When will my graduation ceremony take place?

The dates for all UCL graduation ceremonies will be posted on this website

You can also contact Student Support and Events Services for further information:


Links and Resources

Important Links

Key Resources