Studying for the MBA – the first week

A week ago I started studying for my MBA, following two induction sessions and various introductory lessons. As a reminder, I’m studying three modules this semester, Accounting, Economics, and Organisational Behaviour.

Accounting and Financial Management

I decided to start with this module as I already had some familiarity with the topic from a ‘Finance for Non-Financial Managers’ course I attended last year, so hoped it would ease me into studying nicely. Lesson 1 was an introductory lesson, explaining the role of accountancy and discussing some basic concepts. The format for the learning was:

  1. Read a specific chapter from the textbook
  2. Review the online lessons
  3. Attempt an end-of-lesson multiple-choice quiz
  4. Answer the end-of-lesson exercises and discuss with peers

Accounting & Finance for Non-SpecialistsThe book itself was relatively easy reading, and I was very pleased that the lesson did not just re-iterate the content from the textbook, but instead provided a different perspective on the content, going into more/less detail on some of the topics, and introducing a few new concepts. There were also a number of videos to watch as part of the lessons, which were used to present slides with an audio commentary. I found this to be a really effective approach as it encouraged you to form your own opinion about some of the topics discussed – I regularly paused the video to think about one of the examples, whereas if reading the content I would have probably just continued to the next topic.

The end-of-lesson multiple-choice quiz was straightforward (although not to be confused with easy!), with eleven questions and four answers to choose from. If you answered a question wrong, you were provided with the correct answer along with an in-depth explanation of why, so this was a great learning tool as well.

The final part of the lesson was a question/answer exercise, which took the form of a single question to be answered for each of five scenarios. A model answer was provided, and we were encouraged to share answers and thoughts with the rest of the cohort using the discussion forums. I found this exercise particularly helpful, as it highlighted the importance of thinking about the question that is being asked – my initial answers were probably all very relevant, but when I compared them to other comments, it was clear that actually the question being asked wanted a discussion  around another aspect of the scenarios.

Economics of the Business Environment

Economics for BusinessThe second module I attempted was ‘Economics of the Business Environment’; the initial lesson was also an introduction, but with a focus around the macroeconomic environment. The recommended approach for this module was different to Accounting; here we were asked to complete the online lessons before reading the textbook. I have yet to read the book, but was again very pleased with the format of the online course. A different approach was used for videos this time – the lecturer was asked questions, and answered them in person on the video (instead of showing slides). My previous experience of people sharing information via a “talking-head” video has not always been positive, as I had often felt that the same information could have been communicated via text with as much effectiveness, yet being much quicker to read than to listen to. However, this was not the case here; I quickly became absorbed by the video, and at the end I wanted the lecturer to keep speaking so I could hear more of his perspective on the topics.

The next step for this module is to read the accompanying textbook chapters and complete the exercises. The latter takes the form of two questions for which a model answer will be provided, along with a question that we are to discuss in our study groups, then provide a summary of to our tutor group. I have yet to start this exercise, but am looking forward to having a discussion about the question with my study group, and hearing their opinions and viewpoints.

Organisational Behaviour

Organizational BehaviourUnderstanding OrganizationsThe final module for this semester is Organisational Behaviour, which requested that the textbook was read prior to reviewing the lessons. Unlike the previous two modules, lesson 1 jumps straight into one of the key topics of the module, Personality. This module also has two textbooks associated with it, which has the advantage of presenting a different perspective, but also means there is a lot more reading to do! Luckily there appears to be less content in the online lecture than the previous two modules, so hopefully that should balance out the time required.

Although I have not finished reading all the relevant chapters yet, the content is very interesting as I can immediately use it to understand the behaviours of some of the individuals I interact with at work, and apply the theory to practical situations. It is clear that this module will be very relevant on a day-to-day basis in any management role, given that a significant part of such a career will involve working with people and managing a group or organisation. However, I found that the content also requires a lot more thought than previous modules, probably because this topic places a greater emphasis on opinions and assessments than facts and figures, so needs considering from many different perspectives in order to fully understand the concepts.

Study Group

In addition to studying for individual modules, we had our first proper study group meeting on Saturday. Having spent most of the week reading in isolation, it was very helpful to be able to discuss some of the topics with other members of the group, and hear their perspectives on the modules. We also started to see the value of having this study group in place, as we have already been discussing and clarifying points about the course and the content that one or more of us did not fully understand.

A few members of the group have still to participate on our weekly calls and in our private discussion forum – I really hope that they join us soon, as there is clearly a lot of value in us working together, and it will be a shame if they miss out on the opportunity; I know I am learning from the group already.

I hope you found the above overview of my first week interesting – it is great to finally start the studying, and I’m looking forward to going into more detail on the concepts that have been introduced. Back to the reading now…


2 thoughts on “Studying for the MBA – the first week”

  1. Hi Matt,

    From your description I’d say you need to spend a lot of time per week basis to keep on track in your studies. How many hours do you consider as a minimum to complete the programme successfully?



    1. Hi – I would say at an absolute minimum, 12 hours a week. However, to really learn from the content, participate in the discussion forums, and make the most of the course, I would recommend 15-20 hours, depending on how easy you find the studying, and your existing knowledge of the course content.

      Regards, Matt


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