This week I have completed and submitted my first TMA (Tutor Marked Assignment). These are essays that are submitted and marked by tutors in the same way as the final assignment, but do not contribute to the final grade. Each module has two TMAs, giving a total of 6 to submit over the six-month semester. Although not compulsory, we are strongly advised to complete the TMAs, as they enable you to:
- practice researching, writing and reviewing essays in a safe, but realistic environment
- apply concepts from the lessons to practical scenarios
- obtain feedback on your understanding of the content and approach to writing essays from tutors who mark the final essay
The module for my first TMA was Economics, and it included two questions, which are (in a shortened form):
1. Explain the effects on GDP Growth and Price Inflation of <6 scenarios provided> using the AD-AS model
2. Select a national economy and carry out an analysis of performance over the last five years, and prospects for the next year
The first question considers the impact of changes on a generic economy, and uses the AD-AS model as a method to demonstrate this pictorially (see image, right). As I have a mathematical background I found these models relatively easy to interpret and produce, but it was the analysis behind these that I found particularly interesting, especially when some of the scenarios have been played out in the UK economy over the past few years.
The second question required us to choose a specific country, research the economic history of that country over the past five years, draw conclusions about why it has experienced economic change, and provide some thoughts around factors that might affect its prosperity over the next few years. This was then to be related to the AD-AS model to show the impact of these changes in relation to GDP growth and price inflation.
The country I selected for this question was China, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I visited Shanghai recently to meet with some customers and understand the market better, and found the culture and business environment very interesting. After returning to the UK I read a number of articles about the country, and these have strengthened that interest. And finally, whilst the UK and many other western economies are struggling to grow at this time, China is growing at 8% each year, so I thought it would be interesting to draw a comparison between the different economies.
As this was the first real essay I had to write for my MBA (and the first one in over ten years), it took some time for me to determine the best way to approach the research and writing, but as soon as I had written the first paragraph, the rest of the essay was more straightforward. A great tool that I used for my research was Diigo (a social bookmarking and highlighting application) – I’ll write a post about this on a later date, but if you need to do lots of research on the Internet now, Diigo is worthwhile looking at.
One aspect of writing an essay that was new to me is the concept of referencing. When at University completing my BSc, most of the essays were based around concepts taught during the lectures, so research was minimal at best. However, the MBA (as you would expect) requires that you perform your own research outside the provided textbooks and lecture notes, so referencing is essential to avoid breaking the plagiarism rules. The referencing system that Warwick Business School use is Harvard, which is relatively straightforward to use; the key point for me was remembering where I had read a statistic or quote that needed referencing (hence the need for Diigo).
Now that my TMA has been submitted, I am looking forward to receiving the feedback from my tutor. As this is the first essay I have submitted I expect that there will be plenty of opportunities for improvement, but I would obviously prefer to hear these now as opposed to after submitting my final (graded) assignment.
The next five days will now be spent concentrating on reading all the pre-requisite content for the residential ‘Warwick Week‘ which starts on Saturday – five days of intensive study, group work and networking, which I’m really looking forward to. My next blog post will be after Warwick Week, when I hope to share a summary of the week, and my experience of being a student again.