February 2017: Choosing electives and a dissertation topic

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I survived the exams period after exhausting days of revision, stress and lack of sleeping. I think I did it very well, although we have not have received our grades yet. Anyway, as I mentioned in the last post, if you use your time properly during the semester and read the course materials and as many suggested papers as you can, the revision time will be less stressful.

Now, I can only wait for the results of my hard work and start with energy and enthusiasm this new and last semester. For this stage, we have one compulsory unit and must choose three elective units.

On the MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship course, we have seven options for elective units: Regional, National and Global Dimensions of Science, Technology and Innovation; International Competitiveness, Business Strategy and Innovation Management; Service Innovation; Business Creation and Development; Developing Enterprising Individuals; Case Studies in Technology Strategy and Innovation Management; and, Innovation and Market Strategy.

However, you have the opportunity to take a unit from another MSc course within the School if you are interested in other topics related to business. If you choose the units within the IME course, you have the first two weeks of class to make decisions and changes; but if you decide to choose a course outside the programme, you will need to confirm the availability of the unit for your case, and ask for permission to take it.

In my case, I liked the available options on the IME course, and I preferred not to deal with the authorisation process for another unit. Indeed, I found all the electives very interesting, so the final selection of just three of them was difficult.

Here is my advice for the selection: create a ranking of the units based on the description of each one, consider the topics and the assessment method; then enrol on your three favourites and attend at least two that you found interesting. You can then confirm your choice, or change your mind and take another direction.

I chose my first three options according to the subjects that I wanted to learn. After the first classes, I changed my mind and attended the fourth on my list. Finally, I decided to swap those two units and now, I am happy with my electives. It is better if you enjoyed, or at least learned about, writing skills during the last semester because this time you cannot avoid it. In addition to one group presentation, I have to write two essays of 2,500 and 5,000 words, a report of 2,500 and as if that were not enough, this semester is the time to write the dissertation.

Regarding the dissertation proposal, I recommend using the Christmas break to think about what you would like to research and especially, whether there is information related to the topic and how much access could you have to the data needed. If you do that, you could start the literature review early for the proposal and the search for a supervisor, and avoid unnecessary anxiety or tension.

However, do not worry if you are not sure about the topic or have doubts concerning all the ideas in your mind. In that case, we have the compulsory course of the semester: Research Methods. This unit aims to help business students to learn the most important tools for doing research and guides us to define and develop our dissertation proposal. Moreover, the School gives us information about the dissertation topics that the professors are most interested in and some of the topics they have supervised in previous years.

Personally, I started the process analysing my own subject of interest and three more from the School’s list of topics. For the analysis, I intended to find a balance between what I find motivating and feasible at the same time. We have four months to work on our dissertation, a long time to do something you dislike and little time to do something very complex. Therefore, I suggest seeking for an inspiring subject given the hard-work, but narrow enough and well known for being able to gather information and collect data.

Now, how to evaluate whether your options fulfil that balance or not? I am doing it through three steps: reviewing the existing literature, talking with the professor focused on each topic and discussing them with some of my classmates. Knowing someone else’s point of view is always useful for making an important decision. Although I do not have my dissertation topic clearly defined yet, I have narrowed down my options to just two, and I expect to establish it soon with the progress of the Research Methods class.

Finally, as we do not dedicate all our time to studying, I want to tell you about an activity and a trip I took part in with some friends recently. The UK is famous for its great operas performed in amazing theatres in London, but Manchester is not far behind, and interesting and funny shows are presented in the city. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a comedy opera, and it was such a great time. The Lowry Theatre is lovely and quite new, with a very comfortable auditorium. Before the show, as an international student, I was worried about not understanding what the actors would say and not following the story of the performance. However, my worries were dissipated and I enjoyed the whole show. In fact, I understood most of what the actors said and of course, I could follow the story. I strongly encourage international students to attend this kind of show since you can have some fun, and also train your listening skills.

Furthermore, I travelled with some friends to Stonehenge. Although it was a really cold day (around 1ºC), the experience was fantastic and being in front of a structure that’s almost 5,000 years old was an incredible moment. We learned a lot about the building technology at that time and took beautiful pictures. As Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the ancient world, every visitor to the UK should visit this symbolic place.

Studying

Studying

Studying in the Learning Commons

Studying in the Learning Commons

Leslie Garcia Masters blog Stonehenge 1

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

At the Lowry Theatre

At the Lowry Theatre

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Leslie Garcia

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