Semester 3 over … Semester 4 begins

Three weeks ago I submitted my final assignment from semester 3, for the Complexity, Management and Network Thinking module. The actual due date was yesterday, but I had planned a two-week family holiday for the start of July, and wanted to submit the assignment before I left rather than needing to finish it when I returned. However, this meant that I had to compress a 3-4 week assignment into 2 weeks – lots of late nights and two long weekends were the result!

This assignment was probably one of the most difficult I had completed so far, for a number of reasons. Firstly, as previously described, the module itself was quite abstract, which meant that the potential topics on which to focus the discussion were not as defined as in other modules. The challenge was therefore to select a wide enough set of concepts to show an understanding of the module, but being focused enough to go into sufficient detail. The second reason for this assignment being difficult (or should I say, time-consuming) was that we needed to undertake a considerable amount of research compared to other modules (which often directed us to appropriate content in the recommended reading for each lesson). As such, I spent around 10-15 hours searching and reading prior to starting the writing, to find sufficient content to either back up, or in some cases contradict the ‘story’ of my assignment.

Offsetting these challenges was the lack of a word limit for this assignment. During the face-to-face module at Warwick Business School, the lecturer suggested that it probably needed to be at least 3,000 words in order to provide sufficient depth, but should not be “too long” by rambling or not being concise. Although this resulted in an assignment that was far longer than my others, it eliminated the typical 3-4 hours required to reduce a 3,500 – 4,000 word essay to under 3,000 words.

Overall, I was very pleased with my submission, although as with all these assignments, whether I have met the expectations of the lecturer remains to be seen – the marks for this assignment are not due for another month.

Library

Whilst writing the assignments this semester, I became a regular user of the Warwick University Library. Although I was aware of its existence, I hadn’t had a specific reason to visit it in the past; previous modules had either been assessed by exam, or did not heavily rely on background research using textbooks or journals (however, had I realised the breadth of information available online, I may have been able to improve my grade for Organisational Behaviour). In comparison, all three modules in semester 3 required additional research, and the library was a great asset allowing me to quickly locate relevant journals and articles. Unfortunately most of the books I was interested in were not available as eBooks, but I expect this is due to publishers only making them available for recent books, rather than the choice of the Library to make them available. However, I was impressed with the postal loan service – I had a textbook posted out to me by the library, saving me a trip to Warwick or my local library.

Semester 3

Reflecting on semester 3, all three modules were interesting in different ways, and I have learned a considerable amount that will be relevant both from a professional and personal perspective. This semester was, however, the busiest so far – especially the last two months. One of the reasons for this was the amount of pre-reading and the length of lessons – both were more than most of the previous modules. Also, I underestimated how the face-to-face module would impact my schedule – luckily there was not much pre-reading, which was a relief given that I was focussing on writing the two other assignments for the four weeks leading up to it. However, the combination of this module and my holiday resulted in a non-stop six weeks of study and assignments – I was very ready for my holiday after this!

Semester 4

Semester 4 textbooksAfter my holiday and a few days settling back into work, I’m now really looking forward to semester 4. The modules I will be studying this semester are Strategic Advantage (compulsory), Strategic Marketing (elective) and Innovation & Creativity in Organisations (elective). All of these look interesting in terms of the content, and we’ve got Warwick Week to look forward to this semester. Also, Innovation & Creativity includes the first assessed piece of group-work in my MBA course. Although I have no objection to group-work, I’m not sure how easy/difficult this will be given that the groups are allocated by the business school, and all discussions will need to take place virtually – but of course this is just part of the learning experience!

Another area of focus for this semester is my project, the proposal for which I have to write in the middle of the semester. Unlike a number of people in my cohort, I have not already decided the area that I would like to focus on for this, so have allocated some time next month to think about this in more detail and explore my options.

That’s it for this blog post – today marks the start of my fourth semester, and although most of the other students started a few weeks ago, I have booked some annual leave to study in so hopefully will catch up fairly quickly. Time to re-open the books and start reading again!

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