I was recently in Oxford to receive my degree in Master of Business Administration, or Magister Administrationis Negotii as they say in Latin,and started thinking on what does it really mean to study there.
During the hectic days and nights struggling on books and notes, I mostly noticed the evident aspects of the academic curriculum: finance, operations, accounting, leadership, and the list goes on.
However, I now realize that the difference in Oxford starts from the basic expectations of the University.
For example it is reasonably possible to get a “Pass” (50-69), all is required is to understand the basics of the discipline. The difference in this range is only on how thorough the underlying theory is reported. The next band is a distinction (70-100) and the qualification to this range is given only if the student presents the concepts and frameworks taught during the lectures in a critical manner.
To “distinctively” make it, students must point out the limits of the very theory discussed in class and raise original and outstanding issues. Distinctions are seldom awarded.
In Oxford you are expected to think on your own and innovate. There is of course no premium in reporting back a lesser version of the lectures.
Maybe, after all, the most important lesson was just outside the books!
One note: the degree ceremony is something of complicated, typical of the University. Have a look at the brochure.