I recently was enrolled in a science course where I believed that the lecturer had a really poor understanding of the material at hand. I have had some bad lecturers before but this lecturer is one of the most difficult academics I have ever dealt with.

I was warned by all the postgraduates/PHD students to not take this person's course as it was poorly taught and it was incredibly frustrating raising fundamental errors made in lectures. Eg

Me:The projector says s < t

Lecturer: No it doesn't (doesn't look at projector)

It clearly did... I wasn't the only one that noticed it

The reason why I decided to take this course is because it happened to be related to my thesis area and I had studied it and taken similar subjects before. Ultimately I just wanted an easier semester.

Anyway there came a point in the semester where I questioned a mistake made in the lecture and I said another result should have been used. The lecturer got out the result they quoted and the result I quoted in response on the projector. It was quite obvious that what they said wasn't correct but just said in response that I wasn't correct even when I quoted a reference. This prompted me to try and drop the course and use another course for credit.

Initial Complaint

Unfortunately when I tried to drop the course I was too far into the semester so my other option was to make a complaint to the department. I really needed to graduate at the end of semester so I decided to take the course in the mean time but put in minimal effort to pass as I was so frustrated with everything in the course. I made this very clear to the department.

I approached the head of the department and made a complaint about the course.

I waited well over a month to hear back from the department and the department decided to not do anything because there was insufficient evidence. I certainly understand that it is difficult for them to make a conclusion.

However they also said that my grade was probably a reflection of the educational background that I had (what they meant was because I was already familiar with the area that due to differences in ways in how it may be taught it contributed to my poor grade).

This really frustrated me. Ultimately I really regret letting my pride get in the way by not putting in any effort in the final. But at the same time I don't understand how the examples that I gave (which were the ones given above plus more) leads to that conclusion. I feel that they pretty much came up with their own conclusion as to what happened. I made a request that they should talk to the students (past and present) and see their experiences but it seems that they didn't bother at all.

What I want to achieve

I just want to remove that subject from my transcript and replace it with the other subject I have. It seems that the option that I have is to escalate this to the university and have it resolved centrally. This seems like quite a lot of effort and stress. A part of me feels like I am obligated to do this because so many of the postgraduates have had similar experiences to me. They choose not to complain to avoid awkward situations.

Another reason why I am quite reluctant is because if I was to make a complaint of this nature centrally to the university this would probably put the lecturer in quite a predicament.

I have seen similar questions posted here but ultimately what I am asking is what are some potential consequences for the lecturer assuming that my complaint is successful?


2 Answers 2


If the lecturer has a permanent employment contract, it is very likely any complaints you make will have no results. The principle of academic freedom protects controversial teaching. Since there is no known method of distinguishing controversial teaching and poor teaching, poor teaching is also protected.

If the lecturer has a temporary employment contract, your complaint might make it harder for them to get further employment. Or it may have no effect. It depends on the individual circumstances.

Students' views about the quality of teaching are very valuable for people who want to improve their teaching methods. But they should not be used when making hiring decisions or when judging the performance of individuals. The reason is that on average, student's views are biased based on factors like the race and gender of the lecturer and the difficulty of the course.

You will not be able to remove any course from your transcript. Removing courses from transcripts would be academic dishonesty. Any university which did this would ruin its reputation.


Finish the course, and let it go. It sounds as though you are being properly taught a lesson in taking a course you knew you shouldn't take. This is actually a lesson worth experiencing. Real life will require you to face unwanted tasks, in unpleasant situations, while being judged by a person that you know is not qualified to judge your performance. So i suggest you simply get the best grade you can, and move on with your academic career.

Good luck.

  • It seems that the OP has already finished the course and got a bad grade; at least the OP is inconsistent explaining this aspect.
    – Dilworth
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 20:23
  • Yes, i see that now. I apologize for my faulty speed reading. However my reply remains basically the same. Let it go, and in the future, drop classes in a timely manner. The power to drop a class is really all you needed to correct having taken the class. I am confident you will be fine.
    – Brian
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 6:39
  • I think that the fact that the student got a bad grade already makes the question completely different from the question you initially answered, so I don't think your answer can stay basically the same.
    – Dilworth
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 13:01

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