Ancient interests

February 25, 2000

The debate on the future of the Scottish MA continues to generate more heat than light (Letters, THES, February 11). The dusty old justification - that a Scottish four-year MA graduate is better than an English three-year BA honours and hence deserves the extra accolade - is trotted out again.

Those graduates of Scottish "ancient" universities who (like me) graduated in departments that crossed faculty divides will have seen their fellow students receive bachelors (science) or masters (arts) degrees for exactly the same degree work. And what of the "newer" Scottish universities that also adhere to four-year honours degrees but do not offer masters degrees for undergraduate work? Are we really saying that honours graduates, and science honours graduates from the Scottish ancients (all of whom receive bachelors degrees), are of a lower calibre than "ancient" arts honours students?

Those who would defend the undergraduate MA are really in the business of defending the vested interests of "ancient university" arts graduates over other students.

Charles Pattie. Reader in geography. University of Sheffield.

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