Six weeks into my final year and I am certainly noticing the difference. It’s a huge step up with increased coursework and reading for each module. The content of these modules has moved on from the first and second year, which was more about learning what is happening in the international business environment, to how these concepts and theories developed and the interplay between the different elements of the course. In addition to the enhanced complexity of the topics covered, an increasing amount of criticality is expected in our coursework. This term alone I have three essays, three presentations and two pieces of assessed work for my French module. Balancing my workload is therefore a key for success as I needed to juggle my time between coursework and the extra study that will be needed in preparation for my exams in January.
Reading and Independent Research
This year’s reading lists are much heavier for each module and a lot more independent study is required. This is partially down to the timetabling choice that many of the module convenors have made, one hour lecture and two-hour seminar, which means that only a limited overview can be covered in the lectures.
On top of the extra lecture reading, I am required to carry out significant amounts of independent research for each piece of coursework. Most essays range from 1000-2000 words and lecturers ask to see a minimum on 15-40 references according to the length. These require considerable research and I will normally use journals, Orbis, Mintel and data from sources such as the Office for National Statistics. When starting an essay, I firstly try to create a frame/structure using the existing knowledge that I have on that subject area to help guide me on what research I need to do. I then build a table which contains all the recommended reading related to the question and I will then find all other interesting sources that fit into the topic. I will normally start by taking related textbooks out from the library to get a better understanding of the subject area. I then use Library search to find relevant journals and Google Scholar. After completing my initial list, I will start reading, making notes as I go along and fitting these into my essay frame. During this stage I will often add other texts to my table as I find interesting sources from the journals. Once I have felt that I have gathered enough information to create a balanced argument I will begin to write my essay.
When preparing for my presentations I often use a similar approach. However, all of these are Group Work, which means that a lot more collaboration is required. We tend to use tools such as Google Docs and Slides for draft documents, so that we can all follow the work that each member of the group is carrying out. We will often divide the work up, trying to specialize in different areas and then explaining these to the rest of the group as it is important that everyone has a very good understanding of the whole topic.
I am currently working on my second piece of coursework and getting back up to speed with the processes around this has been a challenge as I have not written an essay in over year. I also find that I often have to review second year material as the lectures build on these; going into more depth about how certain concepts have been formed and their interrelation to different subject areas. However, I enjoy being able to link my modules together more than I had previously been able to in my first and second years; something which helps my learning experience. I hope that my current essay will go well and that my techniques will continue to improve over the term, especially as my deadlines start to get tighter towards the Christmas break.