“Major” and “Minor” Decisions

Okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a bit of a nerd. I’m also horribly indecisive. And a chronic worrier. That combination of traits meant that for me, personally, it was very difficult to decide what I wanted to study post A-level.  I enjoyed all of my subjects and simply wasn’t sure which one to choose.  I couldn’t imagine abandoning any of them. Equally, the thought of a future career seemed to loom large – how could I make sure that I gained all the necessary “employability” skills? What if I picked the wrong course and spent three years regretting it?

£9,250 a year sure feels like a lot of money if you don’t get it right.

Eventually, I decided to take some time out and worked for a while at a school, where my former boss noted my enthusiasm during the school’s academy re-branding, as well as my aptitude for updating the school’s social media and blog – and suggested I study Marketing. Nonetheless, even this decision still felt pretty terrifying. I hadn’t studied business at Sixth Form. What if I found it too challenging? What if it was too dry? Or exponentially worse… what if there was too much maths? It felt like such a gamble…

Luckily, Lancaster offers the perfect solution for those as risk-averse as me.

In your first year, in most degree programmes, you’re not restricted to studying just one subject, you can pick three! Yes, you heard right… three! But hang on, before you start panicking about having to re-write your entire personal statement – the process is really simple. Although you apply for your “major” subject during the UCAS process, once you arrive at Lancaster, you are then able to choose modules from two additional subjects – known as your “minors”.  This allows you to keep your options open. As well as studying your major subject, you can opt to try something new, to pick something that complements it… or merely to continue with a subject that you enjoyed at A Level. If you find that you prefer your minor subject, you then have the option to swap courses at the end of the year.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about struggling with my Marketing course: I’m really enjoying it. However, I’ve found the topics that I’ve studied in my minor subjects – Sociology and Media and Cultural Studies – to have been incredibly relevant; really enhancing my understanding of Marketing.

For example, in MCS, we’ve recently been exploring the theme of power in the media; looking at the dominance of corporations such as Google and Facebook and Viacom, thinking about the influence that they have over the content that we see. For example, did you know Google is used for 95.3% of search on mobile in the UK, whilst Google and Facebook between them owned 9 of the top 10 most used Apps in the UK in 2015? Although not blindingly obvious at first, this has big implications for the world of marketing. When these organisations have such a wide potential-consumer reach and high revenue, it can perhaps make it more difficult for companies to demand change regarding issues such as brand safety and inappropriate content. Will Google really notice if M&S withdraw their adverts from YouTube?

Studying the representation of minority groups in a previous block also made me think about how well companies are representing and meeting the specific needs of those such as the disabled, those from a BME background or elderly people in their offerings.

In Sociology meanwhile, we’ve been looking at how human behaviour has changed and evolved over time. Observations such as an increased focus on individual responsibility for health in society, or a change towards a faster, more individualistic pace of lifestyle are definitely relevant to marketing – just look at how well McDonald’s has adapted to these developments. Marketers constantly need to consider how consumer needs and lifestyles may change in the future.

But it’s not just from an academic perspective that I feel studying minor subjects has enriched my university experience – it’s also allowed me to develop a brilliantly diverse range of friends. It means I can go from geeking-out about Nike’s latest communications campaign with one group of mates, to debating the effects of neo-liberalism with another. It means I’m in classes with people studying English and Economics and Computing and French and Politics. Luckily, it also means I’ve been able to make friends with some wonderfully kind people who study Maths as well as Marketing…

Ultimately, the minor system allows you to explore your options. You can pick a subject because you think it will enhance your employability skills, because you were strong at it at A Level or because you’ve always fancied trying it and never had the chance. Whatever you pick though, you can guarantee it will make your first year at Lancaster just that little bit more enjoyable. You can always change your mind next year…

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.

Come, get yourself a taste of Lancaster!

Come around here, and experience all the tastes LUMS has to offer!

LumsCupcakes Ipshitha

Hola! I am Ipshita and currently pursuing a MSc in Human Resources and Knowledge Management. This is not my first time in the UK, nor is it my first time in Lancaster, but it is the first time I have been here for more than just a summer school or a holiday. I have travelled quite a bit, almost to 13 countries and a few times alone as well. I flew alone for the first time when I was 6, but this is the first time I have ever lived by myself for a whole year! As life is, there have been ups and downs, but the best things are so worthy that I would never trade them for anything else.

I am fond of travelling, meeting new people and experiencing cultures. I remember a new module we started in the second term, the professor decided to ask everyone to introduce themselves, as he wrote down all their native countries on the board. He started with the last row, there were 10 students and all 10 of them were from 10 different countries! Could you believe that? In total, there were 37 students from 18 different countries! Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, France, Greece, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and the United Kingdom. It was the first time that it really hit me that I am actually studying in a truly global environment. Not to mention the friends I have made from many other countries.

Apart from academics, this experience is also enriching because of how I have grown internally. Stepping away from your comfort zone can really do wonders! (those quotes you see on Instagram or tumbler are true!) The magic actually happens outside your comfort zone.

There were all sorts of things I was worried about before coming. I have always been the younger kid in the class. When the course was about to begin, I thought to myself “A 20-year-old kid doing masters? Nah, they will for sure treat me like a baby”. I was pretty wrong. I have gotten to know people from all walks of life and I have learnt a great deal from every single one of them.
Also, before the course began, I wanted a self-sufficient studio because I did not know what kind of people I might have to share my flat with. I am glad I chose an en-suite room with a sharing kitchen,  I have made some of the best friends I could on my flat. Moreover, I have actually learnt to cook a few good meals from scratch! [mind that, ramen noodle is not cooking].

The experience is not just the academics, being here at Lancaster University is a package of an experience!


How international is the Master of Science in International Business & Strategy in reality?

Hi! I’m Tobias, and I am currently studying the Master of Science in International Business & Strategy programme. Before beginning this programme at Lancaster University Management School, I would never have expected to get such an international experience as I have gotten during the past year.

Tobias IBS

I remember my first day here in the United Kingdom: I arrived at the Manchester airport after a long flight from Hong Kong where I just finished my Internship. Waiting at the bus terminal of the airport for an organized bus to Lancaster. At that moment I started to realize, that I was the only European student in the hall – all others are from Asia. This discovery continued at the campus of the University. The graduate college is basically kind of a small village with students from all over the world. I started to share my flat with students from Russia, New Zealand, England, Thailand and Lebanon. My class of 28 students is a collection of 15 different nationalities.

All this internationalization brings so many things together not only in terms of studying but also in terms of social skills. I started to think in different ways and different perspectives. I have learned to speak in different languages and by doing a group work, it surprised me how people in different countries have various style of working. Of course it complicating the steps of achievement at the beginning, but in the end you did not only achieve the goal of the module, but also learned how to work and communicate with complete different people. This unique skill is so valuable since this kind of experience you will not find it in books which it will be an important skill for future international career.

As it would not be already enough international, the university provides even more opportunity for the person like me who are keen to explore a new experience. For example, I could choose an elective program in cooperation with the Peking University in China. In that context, I spent two incredible weeks at the Management School of the Peking University in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. And again, the class was another collection of nationalities: Only four students were coming from LUMS, about ten from top US universities, another ten from Australia and couple of students from other top ranked business school around the world. Moreover, this programme introduced us not only in theory into the Chinese market, but also through company visits and cultural trips to main touristic attractions in these Chinese cities.

Last but not least, by studying here, it is not just meeting people and saying goodbye after the graduation. We are talking about the beautiful friendship and relationship that we have been spending together in a year. Hence, in the future, it could grow as an international business connection or even true friends for the rest of your life.