Exploring Lancaster: food shopping

Students' Union

Once you arrive in Lancaster University, you will find yourself in a completely new environment, and probably the most important question for you will be where to buy everyday essentials and food. There are plenty of supermarkets in Lancaster, which is positive on the one hand. On the other hand, it makes your choice more difficult. In this post I will try to compare different means of shopping.

1. On campus Convenient Stores (LUSU Central and Spar)
These are two small stores located on campus. LUSU Central belongs to the Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) and Spar is a well-known brand. I consider them together since they are quite similar, they have almost the same assortment and pricing policy.

Plus Minus
Convenient location – if you want to buy something on spot (spontaneous purchase) or if you immediately need an ingredient for your meal, these stores are always in the vicinity.

Spar offers good deals on vegetables.

LUSU Central offers good meal deals, plus Purple card holders can benefit from discounts and special offers.

Prices are significantly higher than in the big supermarkets.

Product range is rather narrow.

2. Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury’s is the biggest supermarket (I would even say a department store) in Lancaster.

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Product range is extremely wide.

On-line delivery (your basket must be worth of £40+) with convenient time-slots.

First-purchase discount. Excellent client service.

There is a free bus that goes on Wednesdays every hour from Lancaster University to Sainsbury’s and back. If you want to use it when returning on campus from the town centre, you must show to the driver a receipt from Sainsbury’s worth £5 or more.

Prices are lower than in Spar or LUSU Central, but I would argue this is one of the most expensive supermarkets.

If you order online delivery, they quite often replace 2-3 out-of-stock items with what they call ‘a suitable match’. The delivery man always asks you if you are happy with the replacement or not, if not, money for this item will be returned.

3. Marks and Spencer
M&S is a famous department store which sells fine clothes and food. In Lancaster, it is located on the main street – Penny Street.

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Undeniable quality. Products from M&S will be good souvenirs from England for your friends and family. There are many special offers before Christmas, New Year and Easter.

Quality. Quality. Quality.

Price is rather high compared to other supermarkets/food retailers.

4. ASDA
ASDA is located in Morecambe, not in Lancaster. Like Sainsbury’s, it is a department store, but of a slightly lower scale.

Plus Minus
Prices are quite cheap (definitely cheaper than in Sainsbury’s or M&S).

On-line delivery (your basket must be worth of £40+) with convenient time-slots.

The same issue with product replacement as in Sainsbury’s.

Quality of food is slightly lower than in Sainsbury’s (on average, not always).

5. ALDI
ALDI is the cheapest supermarket in Lancaster (imho), although it’s located in Morecambe.

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ALDI provides the lowest prices on the market.

Product range is wide (but narrower than in Sainsbury’s or ASDA).

No food delivery available. That is a very big minus.

6. TESCO
TESCO is a world-known brand. There are no TESCO stores in Lancaster, however you can order food from them online.

Plus Minus
Online delivery.

Good quality of food.

Slightly expensive (Sainsbury’s level, sometimes even higher).

 

How to earn money while studying

How to earn money

Students have different incentives when they start searching for opportunities that could help them earn some cash: someone wants to add this experience to LinkedIn/CV, someone wants to meet new people, someone wants to buy a new pair of shoes… Here are some tips how you can fund yourself at Lancaster University.

Find a job: Lancaster University
Lancaster University has an Employment and Recruitment Service that offers wide range of jobs. You can apply for a temporary job that is usually designed to cover needs of a particular project – for example, conference assistant, or burger maker at a music festival. The spectrum of such jobs varies – they could be either intelligent or physical, either on campus or off campus, etc. The payment rate usually starts from £7/hour, but bear in mind that you will be required to provide a CV and a Cover letter of yours, so there is competition and selection process for any of those vacancies. Permanent jobs are designed for those who want to become a part of Lancaster University staff, so mainly such jobs are suitable for those who have work permit in the UK. For those who approached the UK with a visa, your working time must not exceed 20 hours per week. I took one of those, and it brought me £70.

Find a job: Lancaster
There are plenty of part-time jobs in the town centre, so just google them. Alternatively, while walking in the downtown keep an eye on any vacancies announced on the doors/windows of the business premises. Many of my friends used to work in the restaurants that specialised in the cuisine of their origin – Thai people worked in Thai cafe, Chinese – in Chinese restaurant, etc. Personally, I did not take any of those jobs.

Take part in research activities
There are many PhD students studying at Lancaster University, and most of them conduct experiments required for their dissertations. They often advertise those experiments either online or through the traditional paper advert on campus. If you participate, you will be rewarded in two possible ways – cash or voucher (usually Amazon voucher). For instance, Psychology department even has its own online research system, so you just need to register and monitor availability of studies. I took part in more than 50 experiments during 2015-2016 academic year, and it helped me earn more than £500. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend that you keep your academic studies number one priority.

Become a Postgraduate Student Ambassador
Read this post for more details. Being a PG ambassador helped me earn around £1,000 a year.

Win business challenges
Read this post for more details. I earned £100 through winning a 3rd place in one of the challenges.

To sum up, I managed to earn around £1,670 throughout my academic year in Lancaster University doing some extracurricular activities. There are many opportunities, so it’s entirely your choice what to do. Good luck!

What is it like to be a Postgraduate Student Ambassador?

LUMS Ambassadors Welcome Event

Many people ask me, what it is like to be a Postgraduate Student Ambassador. I tried to answer this question in the post below.

Every year undergraduate and postgraduate offices hire a bunch of Student Ambassadors, which can literally be considered as a part-time job. The application process runs in November and pretty much resembles applying for a real job in a company. In the first round, you will be asked to submit your CV and a cover letter, so treat it seriously if you want to pass a screening stage. I would suggest that you contact the Career Services in LUMS and ask them for advice with regards to your CV and a cover letter. People who work in the Careers are real professionals with first-hand experience, so they can give you valuable feedback not only about applying for a PG Ambassador role, but also when applying for graduate jobs in different companies.

Once you successfully pass the screening stage, you will be invited for a group interview. This activity takes place on campus and there can be more than one interview set. This depends on the number of applications – for example, in 2015-2016 there were 2 sets, so it was possible to choose between two dates. People who come for this interview are split into small teams of 4-5 people in each. I will let you fully enjoy this experience and will not tell what you will be asked to do – let it be a surprise. However, I can advise you to remain yourself, stay natural and confident, open-minded and be willing to communicate and listen to other people.

After that… congratulations, you’ve become a Postgraduate Student Ambassador! Alright, what does it mean in practice? Firstly, it means opportunities. There are a lot of educational and extracurricular projects running every year – and you can become a part of them. While working on those projects you can develop some of your skills and eventually add them to your CV or LinkedIn profile. For instance, one of my assignments was to write news for LUMS blog on weekly basis. It helped me improve my English and present information in a readable and attractive way.

Secondly, being student ambassador increases your network. This is a chance to meet new like-minded people from all over the world, work side by side and achieve successful results in the end. For example, during postgraduate open day another ambassador and me were assisting prospective students in getting feedback and more information about the programmes of their interest. We managed to persuade 4 prospective students that Lancaster would be there cup of tea – and they submitted their applications.

Lastly, it’s a significant contribution towards your work experience. Student ambassador is a part-time job, which you get paid for. You will have a group of project coordinators who will be responsible for projects allocation. There will also be a manager you’ll have to report to. But make no mistake, studies comes first, and you will definitely not be forced to do the job you don’t want to or can’t do.

The world is your oyster, isn’t it? Do not hesitate and send an application to join a friendly gang of student ambassadors! For more information, procedures and deadlines contact Postgraduate Office. Good luck!

Management Science: modules I’ve enjoyed the most

StudyingDuring my Masters at MSc Management Science and Marketing Analytics programme I’ve been studying 10 modules in total – 4 in Autumn and 6 in Spring. Below is the list of my favourites.

3rd place: Marketing Analytics
This was the core module of my subject. It was taught in both terms, although in Autumn it was called ‘Introduction to Marketing Analytics’. Taught by Nikos Kourentzes, this course was rather practically oriented and although it gave some theoretical knowledge about concepts like 4P, brand power or promotional modelling, it was mainly focused on data analysis. During this course I’ve done conjoint analysis, clustering, multidimensional scaling, promotional modelling, regression analysis, forecasting newly launched product with statistical approaches. I’ve used SPSS and R extensively. It gave me good understanding of how to make data-driven marketing decisions and taught that marketing is not only about creativity and advertising – there is massive data analysis behind the scenes that actually helps companies make right business decisions about promotion and positioning.

2nd place: Forecasting
Centre for Forecasting located in Lancaster University is the No. 1 forecasting centre in Europe. One of the key factors that made me come and study in Lancaster was my passion for forecasting subject. And undoubtedly it was one of the best in the course. Interesting lectures, well-structured workshops, excellent delivery of a new and sophisticated material. This module was organised very thoroughly, not to mention that it was taught by the well-known scientists in the forecasting field – John Boylan and Robert Fildes. Eventually my dissertation project was related to short-term electricity demand forecasting, and this module and people helped me a lot. By the way, you’ll learn R programming language during this module.

1st place: Spreadsheet Modelling
This was a fantastic module run by (in my humble opinion) the best teacher in the department – Adam Hindle. It was a well-structure course that implied no prior Excel knowledge. In the beginning I was a bit biased given my 2-year analytical experience with a company where I’ve been using Excel extensively – what new can I learn at this module? However, although this course started from very basic things such as operation with simple formulas, design of tables, structuring information, etc., it was constantly speeding up – the pace was good, and each new task was more difficult the previous one. At one moment of time I was surprised to find myself writing codes in VBA, performing macro, solving optimisation tasks in a Solver add-in and composing pivot tables.

Places to visit near Lancaster

Lake District

It’s not all only about studying, right? Sometimes it’s really needed to take a break, recharge batteries and just enjoy the time. Fortunately, there are some places near Lancaster University that you can visit in your spare time.

Morecambe
Morecambe is a small town located by the sea. It is just 4 miles away from Lancaster, so you can easily get there either by taking a bus from the bus station in the town centre, or walking by foot, or cycling. In Morecambe, you can see low and high tide, walk by the promenade or eat famous fish and chips. There is a pier that goes a hundred yards in the sea – a beautiful view opens from there! In addition, in summer there is a kite festival held in Morecambe – and event not to be missed!

Galgate
Galgate is a tiny village just a 5-minute walk from campus. It is small, with narrow streets and traditional British detached houses – this is a place where you can feel the atmosphere of a small rural British area. There are two or three pubs in Galgate (quite good though) and a church. Not far from Galgate, there is a famous Lancaster Canal, peaceful and quite, where you can walk and enjoy old bridges, nature and houseboats.

Cycling
Lancaster is a bike-friendly town with plenty of cycle routes. You can either explore the area on your own, or check the cycle routes map. When you arrive in Lancaster, you will be able to buy a bike from the former students or by checking facebook communities where people sell second-hand stuff. Alternatively, you can buy a new bike in the town centre.

Forest of Bowland
Forest of Bowland is located West from campus. It’s a big area with rivers, springs, hills and, apparently, forest. You can enjoy hiking in this area, or have a walk across rural landscape, or cycle. It is really beautiful and once you climb higher, you’ll see a picturesque view with Lancaster, Morecambe and the Lake District visible.

The Lake District
Undoubtedly, the Lake District is the pearl of the British national parks. Its beauty cannot be described in words and it’s definitely a must-see place for everyone who comes to study in Lancaster. Hills, lakes, nature, animals – this place has it all. It is also famous for the ancient 2000 years old Roman forts located in the middle of the Lake District. It’s one of the best places to hike in the UK or to go camping. You can reach the Lakes either by train or by bus from the city centre.

Research projects and dissertation in Management Science department

Dmitrii dissertation

For master students summer is literally the hottest period in a year – this is the time of writing a dissertation. What is it like in Management Science department? Are there any guidelines and tips to perform well? What are the client-based and research-based projects? These are the topics to be discussed in this post.

Projects allocation
Studying in Management Science department requires you to show good academic records, regular and on time attendance, confidence in English, great interpersonal skills and motivation. These features will contribute towards your success in getting summer project of your interest. University outsources around 50 client-based projects with such famous brands as Lego, GfK, Johnson & Johnson, Jaguar Land Rover, etc. All projects are being presented on a particular day in the beginning of May. Based on what they’ve heard, students compose a list of 7 prioritised projects and submit it to a programme director. Cover letter might be attached as well. Then, the programme director allocates projects to students taking into account those features mentioned in the beginning of this section.
Students should understand that client-based projects imply a lot of responsibility. This is a chance to shine and demonstrate analytical skills you’ve learned throughout the year, negotiate with different stakeholders , mitigate risks and maintain information flow between yourself, your manager from the company and your supervisor from Lancaster. Literally, it’s a kind of consultancy experience, so be ready to move to another city in England.
Apart from the client-based projects, there are some research-based projects, most of which are located in Lancaster. This work is more academic and probably would be a cup of tea for prospective PhD students.
If by any reason you don’t want to work on a project in England, you can find one on your own. It can be located anywhere in the world, however you’ll have to discuss it in advance with your supervisor and programme director. So, as you can see it’s all quite flexible.

Tips and hints

  1. Start early. Seriously, start as soon as possible. You might think that you have 3 months ahead, but this is just an illusion as time passes by really fast! The earlier you start, the better for yourself.
  2. Read articles. Read at least 2-3 articles per week, and simple mathematics proves (3 articles * 4 weeks * 3 months = 36) that by the end of the day your reference list will have looked impressive. Well, I’m joking. It’s not about how many references you have, it’s about the quality of your paper. Properly chosen articles contribute towards better understanding of an issue, thoroughness of approaches used and level of detail in your work. Client will be pleased.
  3. Keep a diary. It would be better if your diary was an electronic document, which eventually could become your final dissertation. Keeping record of what you’ve been doing will prevent you from forgetting important pieces of information. This habit will also help you structure your thoughts and re-consider your work.
  4. Be fair. If you face difficulty, don’t be afraid of telling it to either your manager or supervisor. They are here to help, and without knowing the matter they won’t be able to do so.
  5. Rely on yourself. Although both Lancaster University and clients are supportive, this is entirely your project and the result depends only on you! Use your initiative, try to solve issues, stay confident and pro-active. If you don’t know something – google it, read papers. If you find yourself stuck, move some steps back and start over in another direction.

The world is your oyster, as well as your dissertation. Wish you good luck! Just do it.

 

A place to work

Dmitry library

Unlike other institutions that might provide students only with an essential equipment, Lancaster University is happy to share plenty of facilities in order to make your studying experience comfortable and productive; in this post we will discuss their pluses and minuses.

Graduate College

Plus Minus
Regarding on-campus accommodation in Graduate College, your room will have a desk, shelves for books and papers, permanent fast internet connection. Sometimes you might need extra light and probably it will be worth buying a desk lamp either from charity shop on campus or from Wilko in downtown.
College has an area specially designed for PG students – the Social Hub. It has two rooms – one quite zone for studying, with desks and a small library, and another bigger room for chilling out and group work, where you can find pool table, darts, ping-pong table and many board games. In addition, it has a small kitchen area with sink, microwave oven and free-of-charge tea. There might be cold inside, especially in winter time. So you can either put on warm cloth or ask for a portable heater from the porters.

Apparently, if you plan to have a big event in the Social Hub like birthday celebration or international dinner you must book it at least one week in advance at college administration.

Apart from the Social Hub, there is a PC zone nearby also accessible only by PG students. It has two rooms as well – one quite zone with around 20 PCs, and a room for group work where you can find big tables and screens for practising presentations. This is a quite convenient replacement to the library since it’s nearby and is almost always free. The working space at each PC is a bit narrow because of cubicles.

Library

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There are plenty of computers, desks and group work spaces, so you can choose from various options where to sit and work. The library is extremely busy during exam periods (December/January, April/May), hence there are not enough free places.
There is a special zone in the library that only postgraduate students can access via their library card. It’s quite roomy and usually it is not busy. It’s much quieter than the common area which is good for concentration. Unfortunately, there are no PCs available in this area, hence you need either to bring your own laptop or move to the common area since all the PCs are located there.

Management School

Plus Minus
There is a big computer lab in LUMS with more than 30 PCs. All of them have Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 installed, so those machines are quite powerful and up-to-date. This room is good for group work that requires work on PC and discussion at the same time. Sometimes this lab is used for lectures and seminars, so check the timetable on its door to see whether it is booked or not.
There is a so-called Bloomberg lab designed for students who study finance and need to work with Bloomberg software. There are about 12 computers, each of which has 4 screens. In my personal opinion, the most powerful computers on campus are located in this lab. This lab was created by Lancaster University in partnership with Bloomberg mainly for students who study finance. Thus, although everyone can access this lab, a priority access is given to finance students.

 

 

 

A skillset of a management scientist

Dmitry opportunities

Being a master student implies huge responsibility, especially when studying in a TOP-8 university in the UK and TOP-1% worldwide. Is there value for money, what knowledge and experience do you get, and most importantly – how can you use those skills in a real life? Those are the questions to be answered in this post.

I study Management Science and Marketing Analytics, so everything that follows is based entirely on this programme. I am a foreigner, and for me English education was a completely new experience from the very beginning. The crucial thing is to understand that it is difficult to study for a master degree. Really, it is difficult. Although there were not too many modules – just 4 in Autumn and 6 in Spring – the amount of material to learn was impressive.
Most of the modules were assessed based on the three assignments – individual coursework, group coursework and exam. In order to perform well in all of them you will need to have good time management skills and be able to work under pressure with strict deadlines. It does not necessarily mean that you will have no spare time on friends or extracurricular activities – for instance, apart from studying I was a student rep, a teacher of Russian and a PG ambassador which did not prevent me from getting an average mark of 69 and (fingers crossed) a distinction diploma.
Plan your work thoroughly and get the courseworks done before the deadlines. Yes, it will be time consuming and sometimes exhausting – but make no doubt, the result is worth it.

At my programme I have learned 3 new languages. Well, programming languages – VBA, R, SAS. Being able to handle massive datasets, to provide quick summaries and to give data-proven recommendations is an essential skill of a good analyst. A lot of practice is required, isn’t it? This is what you can get in Lancaster – well-structured workshops assist you in getting started, whilst the difficulty of tasks keeps growing alongside your progress. Personally, I’ve spent hours on coding and massaging the data before I could provide more or less reliable result. If you want to achieve good outcomes practice is the key to your success. Fortunately, all the facilities on campus help students do their work well – there are postgraduate zones in Graduate college and in the library, 4-screen computer lab in LUMS, plenty of computer labs on campus, projectors to rehearse your presentations, etc. On top of that, teachers are easy-going and willing to provide support whenever needed. They have open-door policy, so you could simply drop in with a question or book an appointment in advance.

I’ve mentioned earlier that some of the modules include group work. This is a great chance to develop or enhance your teamwork and leadership skills. This interaction helps to develop communication skills as well – just imaging working in a multinational group where all people are from different countries having different backgrounds and cultures. This is so cool! That’s an opportunity to speak English and make new friends – eventually, people might be the most valuable asset you’ve acquired while studying in Lancaster.

Alright, let’s summarise the skillset you can develop while doing Management Science and Marketing Analytics programme (and maybe other programmes too) in Lancaster University.

  • time management
  • ability to work under pressure
  • project management
  • result orientation
  • multitasking
  • out-of-the-box thinking
  • computer knowledge (coding)
  • public speaking
  • communication skills
  • data analysis
  • statistical analysis
  • problem solving
  • teamwork skills
  • leadership skills

Enjoy your time in Lancaster University!

Boost your business grasp in Lancaster

Dmitrii Flux

Do you want to develop your business skills and apply your knowledge to solve a real practical issue? Then LUMS is a right place to start. Below are some tips that will ease your business journey.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Lancaster University Enterprise Centre is an establishment that supports students’ start-up ideas and can provide assistance regarding business related issues. If you need advice from someone who has rich experience in the industry, if you look for a mentor or like-minded people, seek various professional workshops and hackathons – Enterprise Centre will be the best match. These guys are very supportive and well informed of vast opportunities and challenges that are going on. They also regularly organise useful events with maximum practical focus. All in all, do not hesitate when subscribing for their newsletter or simply visit their page from time to time.

FLUX 500 BUSINESS CHALLENGE
FLUX 500 definitely was my best experience in Lancaster. If you seek challenging tasks, want to try what it’s like to work under pressure with super strict time constraints, wish to enhance your team-work skills – this is a chance not to be missed. FLUX 500 is the biggest British business challenge, which on top of that is currently hosted by Lancaster University.
FLUX is all about business. It consists of two stages – internal competition against other teams from Lancaster University (the winner of this ‘semi-final’ will represent Uni in the final) and external competition against other teams from top-UK universities. You need to form a team of 6, and once you’ve done that you’ll get a business task that you need to work on. A little hint, not a spoiler: task is quite broad so there is a variety of options to consider. But given a couple of days that you have to solve this challenging issue you need to do your best and to be fully dedicated if you want to impress the judges.
This year our team won 3rd place – make it better next year! Best of luck guys!

NATIONAL APPRENTICE CHALLENGE
Do you want to experience a two-day diving into business environment in which you run a simulation of your own business and try to create a new one at the same time? National Apprentice Challenge (NAT) is a two-day business challenge which consists of two parts. During the first day your team of 4 needs to run a simulation of a real business venture trying to beat your competitors and show the best relative performance that is being calculated online. The task that you can receive on the second day varies from year to year – for instance, this year we had to brainstorm an idea of a new social network and deliver our 3-minute pitch with presentation to the panel of judges. Out team became 7th out of 21 contenders – can you do better next year?

As you can see, there are many opportunities to shine and enhance your skills in Lancaster. It’s all about making a first step…

Getting started with Lancaster

Coffee outside LUMS Dmitry

Are you ready for one of the most interesting, challenging, breathtaking, emotional, inspiring years in your life? Seriously, it’s just about a couple of months to start!

Hi everyone, my name is Dmitrii, I am a postgraduate student and I study MSc Management Science and Marketing Analytics. Will be happy to share some experience with you through this blog!

I remember myself last September arriving at Lancaster – I could not even imagine how much it will change my life and what an invaluable experience it will be. Full of ambitions and desire to study, I dived into various opportunities provided by Uni – career workshops, extracurricular activities, business challenges, academic excellence, sportive events, etc. I did not hesitate for a second when it was about to decide whether to accept or decline a new offer – like in a famous movie with Jim Carrey my answer was always ‘yes!’.

Eventually all activities that I took part in gave me valuable skills, which I added on my CV and LinkedIn profile. It all comes with practice, right? At Lancaster you can gain experience of all kinds. For instance, I have been teaching other students my mother tongue in Lancaster University Culture Society for two terms. It not only helped me make new friends from different countries, but also boosted my presentation skills and self-confidence when performing in front of the audience.

There are more than 200 student societies in Uni, why not to join some of them or even create a new one? Be ready that your first so called ‘freshers week’ in Uni will be full of different events, news, buzz and hustle – there will so many things happening simultaneously! Let it go and enjoy your time at Lancaster – your new home for the next year.

By the way, what are you expectations from Lancaster University? Come on, share your thoughts, let’s have a chat 🙂