So I’ve mainly blogged about fun stuff so far, but don’t get me wrong there’s been a LOT of studying in between all that. After all it can’t be all work and no play!
Looking back at Semester 1, it was a good challenge. On my International Business and Management course, you are thrown straight into the 4 units with lectures lasting anywhere between 1 and 3 hours and seminars/lab sessions to support the lecture content. There’s also optional sessions with the Careers team or the Big Careers Fair at the start of term where you can get to meet some great international employers.
In terms of my timetable, we had sessions every single day often starting at 9am and finishing around 4pm with an hour’s break in between them – so full on, and lots of coffee from the food outlets on campus! This busy schedule also caused initial issues in finding time to meet your group for the group assignments and presentation deadlines which quickly come about as you head into November.
Group work is a key part of the course and it is important to spend your induction week and first full week making sure you have an idea of who you want to be in a group with. I’m not going to sugarcoat the premise of group work – it can be difficult and also stressful to some people as you hardly know each other, hence why it’s probably my top tip to keep on the top of your agenda as you start a Masters course like ours!
My second tip is to make use of the group spaces available in the libraries so you have a good place to work together and develop that all important group chemistry. We booked the large closed-door group rooms as early as we could before they got booked up by the end of October so our group of 6 had plenty of space to work. Having a room meant we could put on some music, have open discussions without disturbing other users of the library and also use the provided whiteboard, pens and group screens.
By virtue of group work it does pull the entire cohort together – particularly when your course has taken over the library overnight before a morning deadline!! Credit where credit is due though, my classmates and our lecturers have been willing to help each other improve and resolve any small issues that come about throughout the first term. Personally, this tested my own individual and group management skills – a quality which perhaps when looking at the course syllabus seems lacking in Semester 1, but is made up for by the structure of the overall assessment process.
My own favourite unit was our Fundamentals of International Business consultancy report and presentation where our group chose to address ethical issues in a multi-national company (Nestlé’s) supply chain of chocolate in Western Africa. We were put in the shoes of an actual consultancy company who had been commissioned by Nestlé executives to help improve their business practices and human rights records, so even though some of us disagreed with their practices, we had to professionally find a solution and put aside our own emotions.
As well as the modules and assessments, we also had a chance to visit the Jaguar Land Rover factory during our Reading Week in November thanks to the Business School which was great to see supply chains and business practices in action of a major international company.
As Christmas holidays approached, I think one of the Semester’s highlights was the whole group of us heading out to let off some steam on our Christmas party which our class reps and some students helped organise to celebrate all our achievements before we headed off into the festive break and
started preparing for Exams. Our exams took place from the 18 January and we had 3 days between each one which was perfect in terms of being able to properly prepare in the days running up to them. We received some guidance from our lecturers for the three exams (all 2hrs long) which helped us prepare for them over the holidays so we knew roughly what to expect.
Overall I think my exams went well – they probably could have gone better – but this is probably down to my revision period and planning which is something I will take with me as I start Semester 2 this month. I went away for 3 weeks after Christmas, when in hindsight the best preparation would probably have been to head on holidays (or go home if you’re an international student) over Christmas and come back to Manchester at least a week before exams start so you can properly get in the revision zone and even revise within your friendship groups to make revision less monotonous.
We get our exam results in March so fingers crossed – but this month is getting my Dissertation research proposal completed involving many meetings with my supervisor and many days and nights poring over literature in the Learning Commons and Library. Wish me luck!