The curve ball

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    Sport is back on the agenda - to some degree. It turns out our modules this term are split into lecture and seminar, with the latter focussed on group discussions surrounding general Management and R&D concepts applied to the business of sport. Not that all of the Sport Management students will be able to enjoy such a setting - apparently the topic of the seminar’s assignment and presentation in one of the modules was randomly assigned by students’ surnames.

    Setting aside this very peculiar methodology, the idea that Strategic Management theory studied on a non-sport corporation may result in interesting findings which may later be contrasted in the student’s dissertation is indeed a valid argument. Yet if topics do not relate specifically to a student’s overall programme of study, I would argue the power of decision should remain with each individual student. Unlike the arguments I wrote about a couple of months ago in ‘Venturing Uncharted Waters’, I don’t personally see this as a matter of staying within an individual’s comfort zone, but fundamentally of staying within your area of study.

    This random methodology is in stark contrast to last term’s module, in which we were not only able to select the topic of our assignments, but also map out our exam answers. Difference in tutors aside, it seems rather extraordinary that such inconsistency could permeate through the degree. I’m not inferring low standards, but instead questioning if a single method of operation shouldn’t govern a programme of study, more specifically the Sport Management degree. We are, after all, working towards structuring and effectively completing a dissertation at the end of degree; this seemingly uncoordinated outlandish difference between module structure seems somewhat puzzling and senseless.

    Despite the arbitrary selection of organisations we will be analysing, there is the very positive factor of group discussions, culminating in group presentations, neither of which we were able to benefit from last term’s module. For all the highly interesting content we were being presented with, in hindsight it felt somewhat like being lectured on a subject without much - if any - room for discussion - we never had a chance to debate some of the industry issues we were being presented with.

    The reading list is also somewhat reflective of this - just before the start of term I commented on the looming 50+ reading list awaiting me. In all actuality it turns out I only have one main textbook per module this term. Ironically, however, the strictly theoretical nature of the two new textbooks make them a much more difficult read than any amount of reading we were expected to plough through during the Autumn term.

    Notwithstanding the substantial volume of information we approached last term, arguably it felt somewhat like a MRes, where students were given extensive research leads and expected to conduct these in their own time, whereas in lectures this term we’re fed theory in the first half of class before breaking into smaller groups for the seminars, where we get the opportunity to start applying some of the concepts studied.

    There isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ scenario, and for all I know this extreme difference might be strictly derived from the nature of the subjects in question. If nothing else it’s enough to keep us part-time students on our toes - when you think you’re getting the hang of things and have managed to structure your studies in a certain way to compensate your busy schedule at work, it’s almost back to square one!

    Have any views to share on MRes degrees, course structures and how much you can really get out of a group discussion? Get in touch!


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