Guest blogger Written by

Nikki Mennen (Netherlands)

Hi there! I’m Nikki Mennen. I’m originally from the Netherlands and came all the way to Bournemouth to study a MA in Creative Writing and Publishing. I noticed right away that the grading system and the type of assessment are quite different than at Dutch universities. Curious how that works? Let me tell you the differences between the grading and assessment methods in the Netherlands and the UK. 

Recap: the way it is back home 

The grading system in the UK works in a different way than in the Netherlands. If you’re Dutch, you’ll know that in the Netherlands we work with grades between 0 and 10, with one digit after the comma. The lowest grade to pass your exam or assignment is usually a 5,6. If you have all the answers correct in an exam, you’ll receive a 10. If you hand in a blank sheet, you’ll get a 0. Sounds pretty logical, right?

Got a 65% grade in the UK? You did pretty well!

Well, here they work with grades between 0 and 100 percent. But as I noticed after my first semester, in practice you will never get a 100 for an assignment or exam, just like you won’t ever see a 0. The grades in practice range from approximately 30 to 85. If you get an 85, you did extremely well! To pass your assignment or exam at postgraduate level, you’ll need at least 50 percent. So, don’t let it fool you when you get a 65 percent back (which is average in the Netherlands) you did pretty well!

You will shine with a 70% grade!

What we call ‘cum laude’ in the Netherlands, British people call ‘with distinction’. If you have an average of a ‘first’ (which is 70 percent or higher), you will receive your diploma ‘with distinction’. The equivalent for cum laude in the Netherlands is an 8. 

Assignments vs. exams 

The assessments in the UK are also different compared to the Dutch way of doing things. First of all, the UK is much more focused on assignments instead of exams. Although it differs from course to course and depends on the level that you are studying at, most courses will consist of a lot of assignments and only few (or no!) exams.

The assignments in the UK range from practical exercises and reflective essays to theoretical arguments and academic research. In Dutch universities the options are usually more limited to the theoretical and research side, which always annoyed me a bit.

By Nikki Mennen, The Netherlands, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, 2017/18