Went in to Screen Academy Scotland yesterday and collected my research dossier, the major piece of assessed work for the Research Methods module on my screenwriting MA course. It's the most academically stringent of all the course modules and thus the one that most students fretted about. Research Methods as a whole is worth only 15 credits of the 180 required to attain the MA, and the dossier represented only 75% of those 15 credits, but it needed a lot of hard work to achieve the criteria.
When I got to the administratiion office, there was some minor confusion about whether or not my dossier had gone to an external examination, as a sample seem to do. Eventually it was found and I got to read my assessment feedback sheet, although by then I'd already been told my grade for the dossier. Screen Academy Scotland is based at Edinburgh's Napier University, which uses a 15-point grading scale. That's divided into three sections - F for fail, P for pass and D for distinction - with each section subdivided into five grades. P1 means you've scraped a pass, P5 means you did well and D5 never gets awarded. Ever.
My research dossier got a D4.
So that's good. All the way to college, I'd been telling myself all I needed was a pass. I've gotten distinctions in every module thus far, but all I needed was a pass on Research Methods to keep me on track for attaining my MA. So to say the D4 was a pleasant surprise is understating the case. Ironically, I only ever got to a handful of taught sessions last trimester, due to pressure of work and extra-curricular activities outside Screen Academy Scotland.
I guess my grade is down to a number of factors. First of all, I was researched a topic in which I was fascinated. Doing all the reading, all the annotations and all the thoughtful analysis required for the dossier takes a lot of time, so I figured I'd better tackle something that interested me and had plenty of facets to consider. I'd been collecting research materials connected to my chosen topic for years, but never had the time to read them - the dossier gave me that.
Lastly, I didn't just do research into my topic; I also did research into the research methodology of professional practitioners in my chosen area. I was researching the background to an historical murder mystery I'm developing, so I interviewed authors of historical crime fiction and a radio producer who's an acknowledged expert in developing historical crime drama. The interviews themselves were an addition to the required content for the dossier, but they gave me added perspective on the methodology of my researches.
Anyways, the dossier is done and dusted now. Later today the university publishes our overall module grades for trimester two. The high score on my dossier should secure me a distinction as an overall grade for the research methods module, but it's touch and go whether I'll maintian my run of distinctions on the script workshop module. I did get a D2 for the major submission on that, but only a P4 for the initial piece of work. I should know by lunchtime - fingers crossed.