First-class review

October 13, 2000

Paul Surtees ("Why the lack of female firsts at Cambridge is down to more than PMS", Features, September 22) did not comment on the finding that the most significant reason for this was women's choice of course.

Science subjects at university are more popular among men, the arts and humanities among women. A considerably higher percentage of firsts are awarded in the sciences.

But unless it is to be believed that the proportion of arts and humanities graduates who are excellent in their field is de facto smaller than the proportion who are excellent in the sciences, then there is an issue to contend with.

We are designing a system for the classification of degrees (such systems have been implemented in other universities). One of the keys to this is the development of grade descriptors that we hope will bring about a convergence in marking patterns and a reduction in the variation of firsts awarded across subject areas.

Carole Roberts and Chris Rivlin

University of Salford

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