Starting Year 2 of the Warwick DL MBA

Just over one year ago I started my MBA journey, and cannot believe that I am almost halfway through the taught content already. The first year was a fantastic learning experience, and I’m hoping this year will be even better given that I have chosen all but one of the modules (and I would have probably selected the compulsory module anyway given the choice) – see here for a list of the modules I am studying.

I always like starting a new year as I feel it gives me a ‘clean slate’ – I can change my approach and objectives without being held back by how I did things the previous year. So, what will I do differently in 2013?

Take a new approach to time management

I have written previously about the importance of time management whilst studying for an MBA, and this was definitely a big challenge last year. In 2013 I have decided to approach this differently; instead of allocating myself a specific number of hours for study every day (eg. 3 hours on Monday evening, 5 hours on Saturday, etc), and then distributing this time based on an average of 8 hours per lesson, I am going to try studying based on a schedule of lessons/activities to be completed each week.

To prepare for this, I have mapped out all the lessons, TMAs and assignments that I need to complete for each module, and then allocated them to a specific week over the duration of the semester. Then, I will approach studying on a week-by-week basis, rather than the day-by-day basis of last year; if I have a free evening then I will study more that day, and have more time free at the weekend; whereas if I am busy on a number of evenings I will expect to spend more of the weekend studying. So far this has worked well – I achieved my goal of completing lesson 1 of both Management Accounting and Management of Change by Saturday afternoon, giving me all Sunday off (although I acknowledge this is not really an appropriate sample size!). I’ll provide an update on how this is going later in the semester.

Revisiting my approach to note-taking

Another topic I have written previously about is the different styles of note-taking, and this is also something I have reviewed for my third semester. Although my notes were useful for last year’s modules, in some cases they were either not comprehensive enough, or too detailed (eg. I did not use most of my Economics notes, and then needed to refer to the textbook quite frequently during revision for the Marketing & Operations Management modules). I have also had a number of offline discussions with students in my and other cohorts on what works for them, and its clear that the best style of note-taking is specific to each individual. On this basis, I have decided to take the following approach this semester:

  • Management Accounting – Produce a mind-map that includes the key topics, but not lots of detail about the content. I intend to use these notes to help me develop the structure of my final assignment, but then refer to the textbook as required if I need to review specific topics when developing the content.
  • Management of Change – Write sequential notes that highlight any interesting points that I might want to bring into my assignment, and then create two separate tables for examples/case studies, and theories. When writing the final assignment I will review the notes prior to developing the structure of my final assignment, and then refer to the tables to bring in specific examples/theories into the content.

Changing the balance of studying vs. learning

Over the holiday season I was reviewing my original objectives for undertaking an MBA, and realised that although I was building a wealth of knowledge, insight and perspectives, I wasn’t necessarily achieving all my objectives to their full potential. During the first year, I mainly concentrated on reading all the suggested content (textbooks and lectures), attempting all the practice questions, interacting on the my.wbs forums, and completing the assignments / revising for the exams. Overall I am very pleased with my progress, but I also realised that the focus had been on learning the content of the course, with less attention paid to developing my own opinions and viewpoints in some of these areas,

As such, moving into 2013 I want to change how I am studying the MBA overall, and specifically the modules I have chosen. Instead of my aim being to understand the content delivered, I want to take a slightly wider approach: exposing myself more to the topics outside the teachings from WBS, taking time to formulate my own views in the areas I am studying, and at the end of each lesson asking the question, “Have I learned enough to engage in discussions on these topics in my career, and offer my own qualified opinion or perspective?”. I doubt I’ll be able to do this for every individual lesson, but hope to take this extra step for those lessons that are immediately relevant to my career, or those which are of particular interest. Obviously this will require more time, but hopefully the previously mentioned changes to time management and note-taking will help with this.

That’s it for this blog post – good luck to all new and current students starting a new set of modules; if you’ve not already seen it, here’s a post from 6 months ago that might be useful as you plan this semester, Ten tips for the Warwick DL MBA.


5 thoughts on “Starting Year 2 of the Warwick DL MBA”

  1. Wonderful insights, Matt. I have started to work on semester 2 and I can see how different note taking techniques are valuable depending upon the subject. So if we look at Operations Management – my initial impression is that mind mapping might be one of the better approaches because there are so many lists, categories and subcategories…i.e. it appears to be hierarchical in nature (at least considering the first two lesson it appears so). Would you recommend a particular not taking technique for OM vs a subject like MAM?



  2. Hi Glen – based on my experience from last semester, I personally would have found mindmaps to be more useful for Operations Management and Marketing. Modelling & Analysis for Management is an interesting one given that it was an open book exam; assuming this is still the case, I’d suggest having a very short set of notes for each topic/lesson (probably one page maximum) – then when you get a question on ‘regression analysis’ you can quickly look to the page of notes to remember key points.

    Hope that’s useful – Matt


  3. Hi Matt, it was interesting reading how you are going to change the way you studied. I’m only doing one DL module this semester (doing the other two F2F) so I’ve had more time to drill into the material than before. As a result, I’ve been doing a lot more self research on the material. For example, the DL module I’m doing is corporate finance and one lesson is on initial public offerings (IPOs) and so I’ve been reading up on recent IPOs (like Facebook’s) to relate to the lesson material and am finding that this makes the lesson material much more interesting!

    I also like how you said you want to know the material well enough to converse about it. That sounds like a very good approach and one that I will be making a mental note to do myself!


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