Ten tips for the Warwick DL MBA

Are you starting a new semester for the Warwick Distance Learning MBA this month? If so, here are ten tips for making the most of the course and having a successful semester (in no particular order).

1. Keep on track with the schedule
I think most of the students in my cohort would agree – the study schedule is intensive! WBS provide a suggested schedule, and if you get more than a week or two behind it can be very difficult to catch up, so do your best to recover any lost time straight away.

2. Participate in the live sessions
The wbsLive sessions (WBS’s live web conferencing platform) provide a good opportunity to interact directly with the tutors, and other students who are not part of your study group. Admittedly, some of the sessions only provide a review of previously studied content, but others really make use of the technology, with interactive quizzes, and breakout  groups that split off to discuss a topic, then present back and debate the results. Hopefully we’ll see more of this type of session moving forward, and the more people that participate the more interesting these sessions will be.

3. Choose a suitable way of taking notes
As I discussed in a previous post, there are many ways of taking notes. I tried a number of different approaches before deciding on a specific approach halfway through the course, and would recommend that you think about this before getting too far through the content, as it will have a big impact on how easy it is to write the final assignment or revise for the exams.

4. Engage with your study group
When you start the distance learning MBA you are allocated to a study group. I would strongly recommend that you take the time to meet the others in your group (virtually of course), as even if you don’t want any support with the academic elements of the MBA, it is very helpful having some people to speak with – otherwise just focussing on the textbooks and lesson notes can be quite isolating. Plus, it’s a requirement to work in your study groups at Warwick Week, so it helps if you already know each other.

5. Contribute to the discussion forums
Another component of the WBS MBA programme is the online discussion boards. For anyone not familiar with the concept, this allows you to pose a question or make a comment, then others can post an answer or make their own comment, in their own time. Like the study groups and live sessions, these are another good way to have a more interactive experience than just textbooks and lesson notes, and really brings out a wealth of insights from across all participants, adding to the taught learning on the module.

6. Plan your time and track your progress
This may sound obvious, but as per my earlier tip, time will probably be one of the biggest challenges on the course, so its essential to make the most of it. I’ve written a blog post about this previously which has some suggestions, so I won’t repeat them here, but I’ll just add that during the last third of the course, my study plan was also a great motivational tool – it was very satisfying to see the end of my plan getting closer, and this encouraged me to keep going. So make sure you track your progress and use this to motivate yourself.

7. Complete the TMAs
Now that I have completed the first semester I realise the importance of the TMAs. The fact that they are optional made it very tempting to skip over these time-consuming pieces of work; however, I can honestly say that they not only helped with learning the content, but also made a huge difference to how I approached the final assessments. This is especially important for modules that you find difficult – it is far better to realise you have the wrong approach with a TMA, than with a final assignment. They also provided a good indicator of how long needs to be allocated to complete the final assignment, which helped at the end of the module.
One point I can’t yet comment on is the relevance of TMAs when the final assessment is through an exam (which is the case for the second semester modules). However, I hope that the TMAs for these are appropriately written to require a similar skill set as the exams, in which case I am sure they will be equally useful. For more insights into the TMAs from semester 1, see my blog posts here and here.

8. Become familiar with the library databases
There were a few comments about the resources available in the library at the start of the course, but as this is a distance learning MBA I assumed they wouldn’t be particularly useful. However, I was wrong – the library has access to many online resources that are particularly useful during the course and with the assessments, such as company accounts’ analysis, industry overviews, and published papers. I was still able to use these for the final assessment, but it would have been far easier if I had been familiar with the sites beforehand.

9. Make the most of Warwick Week
Warwick Week is a twice-yearly event where we have the opportunity to meet and interact with our study group, other peers, and lecturers. I personally found this week really useful, both for networking, and for the debates & discussions that took place during and after the workshops/exercises. To find out more about Warwick Week, please look here.

10. Subscribe to my blog
And of course, my final tip is to subscribe to my blog! I plan to keep updating with new posts during the next semester, and would welcome any comments on what you’d like to hear about. To subscribe, you can either click the ‘subscribe’ button on the right of the home page, or follow me on Twitter.

I hope you found these tips useful, and if you have any other tips for new or current students, please post them in the comments area below.

Semester two – here we come!

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11 thoughts on “Ten tips for the Warwick DL MBA”

  1. Hi Matt – we are just starting the first semester having just completed the induction for the modules yesterday. I received my books on Friday and looking through them the economics book looks like it is set to be the most challenging as my math skills are rusty when it comes to graphs and diagrams.

    I hope you are set to enjoy the second semester and will keep your blog going for us as it has been a superb resource.

    Thanks again for the guidance and the time you spend sharing your thoughts and ideas.

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  2. Matt, thank you for posting this blog. I am thinking about the Warwick DL MBA and these posts are really helpful to understand how it works as I do not know people in my network that have attended it . Can I ask a question about the entry requirements? I have contacted the admission office and they told me that they require at least 4 years managerial experience. Could you pls provide your view on the admission requirements and if there are other elements that they take into consideration (I assume there is an interview or some other method to screen the successful candidates?)
    Many thanks and keep up the great job
    Isabella

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    1. Hi Isabella, the comment on the WBS website is:

      “We place great value on sharing work experiences as part of the learning process. The minimum duration and type of experience is therefore not negotiable. If you do not have the minimum experience you should consider our MSc in Management instead.”
      http://www.wbs.ac.uk/students/mba/apply/eligibility.cfm

      I would agree with the statement above in that there is significant value to be obtained by sharing work experiences, and there is also the need to apply previous management experience to some of the exercises (and potentially assessments). However, my understanding is that the experience does not need to be formal people management – if you have been involved in managing a function or virtual team then you may also be applicable.

      My recommendation would be to contact WBS directly to discuss your individual circumstances – they were very helpful when I spoke with them about my application, and I am sure will provide some useful guidance.

      Matt

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  3. Hi Matt, thank you for sharing all these information about the program and your experience with the DL MBA. I am currently considering applying in the upcoming year and really like to hear your opinion about people with a business degree (undergraduate/ diplom) in regard to the benefits for these students as a lot of topics were covered in some way in their initial degrees?
    My personal expectation is to gain further knowledge by sharing opinions/ work with fellow students/ work groups from other backgrounds and ways how to look at topics and to expand my personal.
    Further I would appreciate if you can already share some thoughts about the consultancy project as this will be a major part of convincing my employer to go into sponsorship.

    Matt, thank you in advance. Your time and thoughts are much appreciated!
    Sascha

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    1. Hi Sascha. I expect the business degree would be a good foundation for the MBA, although I’m not aware of the content of the former so it might be worthwhile contacting WBS directly to get their opinion. Also, have a look over some of my other blog posts as I’ve summarised some of the modules – this might give you a better view on if there will be much duplication. You’re correct in that you’ll get some insights from other students, although obviously as this is a distance-learning MBA there’s not as much focus on this vs. the ‘taught’ content.

      I can’t comment yet on the consultancy project, as I’ve yet to start mine. You might want to ask the same question at http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Warwick-Business-School-Prospective-Students-3962242 – as there will be current and past students there who may be able to provide some advice. Also, if you contact WBS, they might have some collateral that you can use to help persuade your employer to sponsor you.

      Good luck with your application.

      Matt

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