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FT420: A Question

Stormkhan

Disturbingly familiar
Joined
May 28, 2003
Messages
8,132
Yup. Had this issue a while. Read it a couple of times, with much interest.
Then it suddenly struck me: The contributor of the article concerning "The Battle of The Beanfield", Elisa M Gray is listed as holding an MA in medicine.

No disrespect to the writer but it has me puzzled: medicine is a science so how can you have a Master of Arts degree in a science?
 
Yup. Had this issue a while. Read it a couple of times, with much interest.
Then it suddenly struck me: The contributor of the article concerning "The Battle of The Beanfield", Elisa M Gray is listed as holding an MA in medicine.

No disrespect to the writer but it has me puzzled: medicine is a science so how can you have a Master of Arts degree in a science?
Some universities only award MA'S and not MSc's. For example Oxford and Cambridge.
 
Really? I didn't know that.
It just seemed counter-intuitive to me.
 
Really? I didn't know that.
It just seemed counter-intuitive to me.

It's worse than that.

MAs from Oxbridge and Dublin are not real master's degrees. You get them on application a while after graduating with a BA provided—I think—you are in good standing with the university.

You don't work or study for them.

They do have variant qualifications at the same level as real MAs that do require achievement, but their MAs are freebies:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Arts_(Oxford,_Cambridge,_and_Dublin)
 
See? This is one of the most insidious things about qualifications I think.
You see 'qualifications' being quoted and, unless you're in the know, they might be irrelevant and give a false sense of expertise.
So many industries are unregulated and you can 'qualify' for subjects just by paying an online firm or even 'self-educated'.

I saw the word 'medicine' and expected a science. Regardless of how an MA in Medicine is attained, I wouldn't trust it at face value.

There was an episode of the radio comedy "Cabin Pressure" where they had a sick passenger. On the passenger list, the captain saw a Doctor listed. It took more and more blatant calls for the 'Doctor' to step forward to help. In the end the Captain snapped and directly asked him for help.
It turned out he was a vet. His doctorate was in animal health. :hahazebs:
 
It's worse than that.

MAs from Oxbridge and Dublin are not real master's degrees. You get them on application a while after graduating with a BA provided—I think—you are in good standing with the university.

You don't work or study for them.

They do have variant qualifications at the same level as real MAs that do require achievement, but their MAs are freebies:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Arts_(Oxford,_Cambridge,_and_Dublin)
I worked with somebody who had one. He fast-tracked himself to a master's degree by paying money, then he used that as leverage to get on a PhD course. He did get the doctorate, but I suspect there was some clever manipulation there as well.

Edit: To add to this mishmash, there is such a thing as an aegrotat degree. Essentially, a student can claim they were ill or under extraordinary pressure during exam time, which is used as an explanation for why they did badly. They could claim that they expected to do much better. The senior staff then give them the benefit of the doubt and give the student a pass.
 
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So ... it can be used / was intended as a 'fast track'? And yet here it's used as a qualification in of itself.
 
So ... it can be used / was intended as a 'fast track'? And yet here it's used as a qualification in of itself.
I don't know anything about the technicalities of it, but the man did have a PhD. Another colleague teased him about not having a proper doctorate ('cos he cheated), and I asked why. He told me that he couldn't be bothered to go through the time required for a real master's, so he'd bypassed that by paying Cambridge Uni a chunk of money. The PhD he got at another university. Presumably that uni didn't ask any awkward questions.
 
See? This is one of the most insidious things about qualifications I think.
You see 'qualifications' being quoted and, unless you're in the know, they might be irrelevant and give a false sense of expertise.
So many industries are unregulated and you can 'qualify' for subjects just by paying an online firm or even 'self-educated'.

I saw the word 'medicine' and expected a science. Regardless of how an MA in Medicine is attained, I wouldn't trust it at face value.

There was an episode of the radio comedy "Cabin Pressure" where they had a sick passenger. On the passenger list, the captain saw a Doctor listed. It took more and more blatant calls for the 'Doctor' to step forward to help. In the end the Captain snapped and directly asked him for help.
It turned out he was a vet. His doctorate was in animal health. :hahazebs:

I agree, I respect learning learning I do not respect "qualifications" as anything can be tarted up to be something else or unnecessary certificates can be awarded for jobs that don't actually need them.

In the US, anyone who teaches/lectures at a uni is a "professor" in the UK, that's the highest of four rankings for lecturers.
 
I agree, I respect learning learning I do not respect "qualifications" as anything can be tarted up to be something else or unnecessary certificates can be awarded for jobs that don't actually need them.

In the US, anyone who teaches/lectures at a uni is a "professor" in the UK, that's the highest of four rankings for lecturers.
Actually, while "Professor" is the standard form of address, and an informal way of referring to all faculty members, most U.S. institutions use a ranking like Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, (Full) Professor. It's kind of like anyone who runs a ship is "Captain" - even Lieutenant Bligh.

At least in the U.S., the terms "Arts" and "Science" in academic degrees don't mean quite the same as they do in everyday speech. They focus more on what aspect of the field is being studied: the former generally concentrates on a more "liberal arts" approach, and the latter on the practical and "hard facts" aspect. Still, there is a lot of variation from school to school.
 
I don't know anything about the technicalities of it, but the man did have a PhD. Another colleague teased him about not having a proper doctorate ('cos he cheated), and I asked why. He told me that he couldn't be bothered to go through the time required for a real master's, so he'd bypassed that by paying Cambridge Uni a chunk of money. The PhD he got at another university. Presumably that uni didn't ask any awkward questions.
Yep.
I was actually encouraged by a tenured professor to go around the whole Masters process and get straight on with my candidacy. When I told him I didn't know that was possible, he just laughed.

Mere machinations, deaah boy.
 
At least in the U.S., the terms "Arts" and "Science" in academic degrees don't mean quite the same as they do in everyday speech. They focus more on what aspect of the field is being studied: the former generally concentrates on a more "liberal arts" approach, and the latter on the practical and "hard facts" aspect. Still, there is a lot of variation from school to school.

The situation has become even murkier in recent decades.

The BA degree was the original American baccalaureate degree, during a time when college education emphasized multidisciplinary breadth - i.e., the classic "liberal arts" / "liberal education" motif.

The BS degree emerged in the middle of the 19th century in certain fields, and it basically emphasized depth within a single field or discipline. It was originally offered as the curricular model in the pure and applied sciences, but the model disseminated to degrees in other fields (e.g., social sciences and professions) during the 20th century.

Nowadays there are such things as institutions that offer either a BA or BS in a given field, and there are certain post-secondary schools (e.g., community colleges; professional schools) that offer only one of the two regardless of field or major.

In any case, the particulars are decided by the given institution. There's no all-encompassing standard for differentiating the two.

This only describes the American scene. There are further variations when surveying and / or comparing practices internationally.
 
Actually, while "Professor" is the standard form of address, and an informal way of referring to all faculty members, most U.S. institutions use a ranking like Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, (Full) Professor. It's kind of like anyone who runs a ship is "Captain" - even Lieutenant Bligh. ...

The scenario changes even more once you move outside the Anglo-American sphere. When I was employed at a university in Sweden everything was arranged according to the Swedish version of the old-school German system. Generally, there would be only one staff member designated as "Professor", and he / she was definitely the "captain" of the entire department / unit.

In addition to having the administrative powers of (an American) "chair", this Professor tacitly held power over the thematic / research work formally conducted by the department staff and pursued by the department's doctoral candidates (over whom the Professor served as the sole gatekeeper deciding whether one could move forward to disputation).

In some large departments there could be multiple Professors - each one serving as the sole top authority over a sub-departmental unit dedicated to one or another specialty within the department's discipline - over all of whom the department's Professor had higher rank.

The rest of the department's academic staff was divided into two categories: Lektor (Lecturer; teaching staff) and Forskarassistent ("Research Assistant"; non-teaching research staff). [1] These two categories applied to staff members at multiple levels of credentials and experience - i.e., they didn't exhibit any internal ranking.

Most of the departments with which I was familiar also had a Rektor - a senior academic staffer who oversaw administrative functions. I'm not sure the Rektor position was a universal fixture.

[1] In effect, a Swedish Forskarassistent is analogous to an "assistant professor for research" in American university parlance. In US universities a "research assistant" is the common label for a graduate student who works for a professor on a project. I had to explain this difference when moving from Swedish academia back into the American academic / research realm, though it had no material bearing on my qualifications for the position that drew me back to the USA.
 
Psychology is a bit of an outlier in the U.K.

Although those who lead the institutional field have pushed for years for it to be considered a 'Science', it is possible to be awarded either a BA or a BSc in the subject, depending on course and content.

Sidenote: I discovered from a link above that there is some movement towards using English instead of Latin appelations for prestigous UK universities. Oxon, Cantab. Etc.

Two of the moderators here qualified (Dunelm), for instance.
 
The situation has become even murkier in recent decades
Although those who lead the institutional field have pushed for years for it to be considered a 'Science', it is possible to be awarded either a BA or a BSc in the subject, depending on course and content.
Yeah. I think I should have said that I was describing what is supposed to be the difference between "of Arts" and "of Science". Institutions I'm familiar with offer both B.A. and B.S. in Biology, Psychology, Sociology, etc. Sometimes the difference in curriculum is not as distinct as the designations would imply.
 
Two things that come to mind.
First, an American friend of mine was visiting and I was bemoaning our education system in regards to my kids - as you do - and she told me of the time she 'discovered' that our colleges were considered 'under' universities in educational status. To her, college and university was synonymous. She then realised how many U.S. educational establishments actually overaccentuate their standing to command higher fees.
Secondly, a recent You Tube film critic did a short on the dialogue between Dr. Bruce Banner and Thor. It went something like ...
"Well, which of us seven doctorates?"
It was pointed out that you could have multiple B.A.'s, M.A.'s MSc's etc. depending on the subjects but only one doctorate, two if the academic changed subjects and specialised in one. The idea is a doctorate is attained by having the most experience in your range of study.

Is this right?
 
... It was pointed out that you could have multiple B.A.'s, M.A.'s MSc's etc. depending on the subjects but only one doctorate, two if the academic changed subjects and specialised in one. The idea is a doctorate is attained by having the most experience in your range of study.
Is this right?

It may be "right" in one or another jurisdiction, but it's not universally "right."

What counts as an earned doctorate can vary with jurisdictions and even individual institutions. Beyond that, there have long been such things as honorary or other special "doctorates" awarded to individuals on the basis of (e.g.) demonstrated accomplishment.

One of my former computer science professors (and long time friends) has two (American; earned) doctorates. The first was in mathematics. The second (in clinical psychology) was earned later in life when he became a psychotherapist.

I know there is (or was ... ) provision for multiple doctorates in the old-school German system, because I encountered someone whose formal title was that system's prescribed "Doktor Doktor" for such situations.

There may be jurisdictions in which one can profess or "advertise" only one of multiple doctorates, but I've never seen or heard of such a thing myself.
 
Two things that come to mind.
First, an American friend of mine was visiting and I was bemoaning our education system in regards to my kids - as you do - and she told me of the time she 'discovered' that our colleges were considered 'under' universities in educational status. To her, college and university was synonymous. She then realised how many U.S. educational establishments actually overaccentuate their standing to command higher fees.
Secondly, a recent You Tube film critic did a short on the dialogue between Dr. Bruce Banner and Thor. It went something like ...
"Well, which of us seven doctorates?"
It was pointed out that you could have multiple B.A.'s, M.A.'s MSc's etc. depending on the subjects but only one doctorate, two if the academic changed subjects and specialised in one. The idea is a doctorate is attained by having the most experience in your range of study.

Is this right?

Some of the oldest British universities are collegiate: hence you are a member of a specific college, and all the colleges plus the departments plus the administration comprise the university.

Off the top of my head:

Oxford
Cambridge
Durham
York
Lancaster
Kent
 
... First, an American friend of mine was visiting and I was bemoaning our education system in regards to my kids - as you do - and she told me of the time she 'discovered' that our colleges were considered 'under' universities in educational status. To her, college and university was synonymous. She then realised how many U.S. educational establishments actually overaccentuate their standing to command higher fees. ...

In the American scene there's a lot of self-preening status-gaming among post-secondary institutions (i.e., burnishing one's branding). This isn't necessarily the case elsewhere. When I was living and working in Sweden I was often asked about attributions of higher / lower status among American colleges and universities (a concept somewhat alien to questioners in light of Sweden's consolidated university system). Anyway, this "branding" factor plays a part in college-versus-university name-gaming in the USA. Having said that ...

"College" is the older and more variably defined of the two labels:
A college (Latin: collegium) is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education, or a secondary school.

In most of the world, a college may be a high school or secondary school, a college of further education, a training institution that awards trade qualifications, a higher-education provider that does not have university status (often without its own degree-awarding powers), or a constituent part of a university.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College

A university is more narrowly defined:
A university (from Latin universitas 'a whole') is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in several academic disciplines. Universities typically offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. ...

In modern usage the word has come to mean "An institution of higher education offering tuition in mainly non-vocational subjects and typically having the power to confer degrees," with the earlier emphasis on its corporate organization considered as applying historically to Medieval universities. ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University

The clearest differentiation between the two lies in the fact a "university" may subsume one or more subsidiary "colleges", but not vice versa.
 
It may be "right" in one or another jurisdiction, but it's not universally "right."

What counts as an earned doctorate can vary with jurisdictions and even individual institutions. Beyond that, there have long been such things as honorary or other special "doctorates" awarded to individuals on the basis of (e.g.) demonstrated accomplishment.

One of my former computer science professors (and long time friends) has two (American; earned) doctorates. The first was in mathematics. The second (in clinical psychology) was earned later in life when he became a psychotherapist.

I know there is (or was ... ) provision for multiple doctorates in the old-school German system, because I encountered someone whose formal title was that system's prescribed "Doktor Doktor" for such situations.

There may be jurisdictions in which one can profess or "advertise" only one of multiple doctorates, but I've never seen or heard of such a thing myself.
Someone I used to know had two earned doctorates and was at one time working on a third. One in paramusicology and one in witchcraft studies.
 
Someone I used to know had two earned doctorates and was at one time working on a third. One in paramusicology and one in witchcraft studies.
I used to work with someone who had doctorates in 2 separate subjects (I think one was mathematics, but I can't recall the other doctorate).
A very clever man, but incapable of expressing himself verbally.
 
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