MBA Semester
MBA Semester

The anticipated specialisation phase finally arrived. The specialisation phase is a short semester (8 weeks, a normal semester has 12 weeks) and it was from the beginning of May till end of June. Back in April, we had to choose our specialisation modules. This is somewhat equivalent to an elective. In Cardiff’s MBA programme, we had to choose 3 modules that will determine our specialisation/pathway. There are 6 pathways available:

  1. OML: Operations Management and Logistics pathway
  2. FIN: Finance and Accounting pathway
  3. MS: Marketing and Strategy pathway
  4. HRM: Human Resource Management pathway
  5. IM: International Management pathway
  6. General pathway (any combination)

We had to choose 3 modules from the list below. Most of them are very exciting and I wish we could have taken more than 3. Note that the code on the left (list below) denotes which specialisation it contributes to. A student is considered to specialise in a pathway if they select all 3 modules within the same specialisation. The module in bold represents the ‘main’ module of the pathway. While a lot of students select all 3 within the same specialisation, there were also  a number of students that selected a mix (2 in pathway A, 1 in pathway B). Hence they get a “majoring in A, minor in B” kinda specialisation. There were some students that take 1 from each, hence doing a “general” pathway.

  1. OML: Strategic Operations Management
  2. OML/IM: International Sustainable Business
  3. OML: Lean Operations
  4. FIN: Corporate Governance
  5. FIN/IM: Multinational Financial Management
  6. FIN: Managerial Finance
  7. MS: Marketing Research
  8. MS: Advances in Strategic Management
  9. MS: Electronic Business
  10. MS: Consumer Behaviour
  11. MS/IM: Global Marketing
  12. HRM: Strategic Human Resource Management
  13. HRM/IM: Management in Emerging Economies
  14. HRM: International Management
  15. HRM: Management Consulting
  16. HRM: Management of Change

I enrolled in Strategic Operations Management (OML), Managerial Finance (FIN) and Multinational Financial Management (FIN). I was pondering about doing 2 OML and 1 FIN but then I realised this is my last opportunity to properly learn Finance in a classroom environment, hence I took 2 FIN instead.

During the first 3 to 4 weeks, I decided to “sit-in” in a few other lectures, on top of the ones I enrolled in. This is so that I know what the other modules are about. Among the modules that I sat-in were Management Consulting (HRM) and Electronic Business (MS). Being a consultant at Accenture, I was intrigue to know what they teach in a “management consulting” class. It turned out to be quite interesting! The lecturer was an ex-consultant, so naturally he had many stories from the industry. He seems to be a big fan of PA Consulting (link), and he definitely sounded like he had something against Accenture. Hmm. Anyway, the same for E-Business. As an IT consultant, I wanted to see what were the “textbook stuff”. After week 4, it seemed I wasn’t missing out too much.

However, I was surprised that the university did not allow students to change modules during week 1. In my undergrad days back in Monash University (in Melbourne, Australia), we had a 1 week trial period before the our selected modules were  “finalised”. This enabled students to sit in as many elective lectures possible during the first week to get a feel and to be sure that it is the right module for them.

Managerial Finance lecture
Managerial Finance lecture

As for my actual lectures, the finance modules, especially Multinational Finance, was tougher than expected. Dealing with currencies, interest rates etc was quite a challenge at the beginning. On the other hand, Managerial Finance was easier to understand. Things like CAPM, WACC, Portfolio Theory etc were relatively straightforward topics.

Tesco Distribution Center
Tesco Distribution Center

For the Strategic Operations class, we had a class trip to a Tesco Distribution Center in Magor. It was very interesting. We were able to appreciate the various operational strategies that were discussed in class. I like these class trips. If only we could have more. Nothing beats putting theory to practice.

I understand that given the compact-1-year nature of the MBA, semester 3 had to be completed within 2 months. I still feel it was quite a rush with no time for the knowledge to really sink in. I was OK with the 5-day study period from the end of semester 3 and before the exams started, but I would like to semester to be longer, perhaps 10 weeks? This is because when Semester 4 (Business Project Phase) started, I realised they could have taken 1-2 weeks off that and given it to Semester 3. There’s no need for Semester 4 to start early July, it could have started mid-July and people would still have ample time for their projects.



For other MBA related posts, refer to the links below:

  1. MBA journey begins
  2. MBA – Semester 1 – Week 1 to Week 5
  3. MBA – Semester 3 – Specialisation Phase
  4. MBA – Semester 4 – Business Project Phase
  5. My MBA graduation ceremony