Laurie Taylor Column

May 27, 2005

"UK graduates set to receive a record number of first-class degrees this year" - The Times Higher, May 20

Ah, Noakes. There you are. I now have your finals marks.

Thank you, Professor Lapping.

Let's begin with your Theory paper. You achieved marks of over 70 on each of your first three questions. But then you omitted to answer the compulsory fourth question. That brought you down to an overall lower second.

Thank you.

Now, on Methodology, you once again produced first-class work but failed to hand in your practical project, leaving examiners with no option but to reduce your mark to 54 - another lower second.

Thank you.

Then your Semiology paper. It seems that you wrote only a single paragraph in answer to each question. Each paragraph was of first-class standard but the examiners had to mark you down because of sheer lack of content. Another lower second.

Thank you.

We move onto your Special paper, where you chose to write 5,000 words on Baudrillard. The examiners agreed that your paper deserved a first but eventually had to propose a lower second because you actually wrote not about Baudrillard but Barthes.

Thank you.

We also checked your tutorial reports for evidence of excellence. Every single report described you as "average". So no compensation there.

Thank you.

Noakes, let me be frank. For three years, this department has done its level best to turn you into a first-class student. We have given you the benefit of the doubt, rounded up every mark, accepted every excuse, made every psychological allowance. But you have always found some way to confound our best endeavours. An exceptional achievement. In the circumstances, there is only one possible outcome.

Yes?

The examiners agreed that you should be awarded a starred lower second.

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