MSc subject decision.

RIckshaw Major and I have had roughly parallel careers, although I did my first degree at UMIST and my masters at Shriv. I ended up going into academia when I left regular service, and designed and delivered both BSc and MSc courses..

My advice generally to folk embarking on MSc is to be honest with themselves, and understand that the big hurdle in an MSc is the dissertation. Never forget that the aim of the course is to end up with the three letters after your name! You need to select a subject area for your dissertation that contains sufficient material for you to carry out the research and produce acceptable results. Modern research practice has regrettably become somewhat onanistic, and unless you can produce sufficient named references and bibliography you will struggle even though you may have stumbled on the key to cold fusion or the cure for the common cold..!

The other choice you need to make is the balance between taught and research oriented masters courses. Taught masters are closer to undergraduate courses, where you are given specific instruction and are examined on it, with an "add on" dissertation. These used to be called "conversion masters" as you did not need to have a related undergrad qualification. They have become more popular in recent years as they are easier to recruit to (and can be constructed from recycled undergrad material)! I however think they are of less value, and the cynic in me thinks they are mainly used to screw more money out of idiot foreign students..!

As in any purchase, you should always follow the principle of Caveat Emptor, and be careful in your choice.. A degree can never create a silk purse out of a sow's ear, however the better the fit between you, the subject and the institution, the greater the chance of you gaining the maximum from the experience. The higher the level of the degree, the greater the responsibility is on the student to pick up what is offered. Good Masters level courses should be about the opportunities you get to access knowledge and information rather than what you end up with. That said, the value of the Masters is probably more based on the reputation of the institution than on your efforts! You need to think about this..!

The MBA v MSc debate is down to the generalist v specialist argument.. the MBA is a fairly recent American import, and still has a bit of a snake oil reputation in some quarters. You will not be surprised to know that my view is that a "generalist" masters degree is something of a contradiction in terms. Too often it has been used as a means of guilding an otherwise unimpressive CV! I wouldn't hire one!
The key point in that post is that you left the service and entered academia. The OP wants to go into management. The academic niceties of whether or not his degree is taught or research will make no difference when he’s going for a senior management role.

As for the MBA, it’s hardly a “recent American import”; the first MBAs in the UK were offered in the 1960s. You may sniff from about their “reputation in some quarters”, others see them as a necessary tick. As for you not hiring an MBA, why would you? You’re an academic? If you were hiring a general manager for your business, you’d probably think differently.

As a founder, I take a different view. If you want a basic understanding of the building blocks of how businesses work; marketing, strategic HR, governance, business leadership, corporate finance, operations process design, project management, corporate law etc etc, an MBA is the place to look.

Horses for courses. But for someone leaving the Army after 20 years who wants to prepare for a corporate business management role, I know where I would look. It wouldn’t be a research based Masters.
 
Thank you. I've seen too many blokes get to their last year and start flapping. Fortunately, I have always had good role models who offered good advice along the way.
I'm leaning toward Business and Management currently, due in part to Northumbria having a better understanding of hosting military students.....and the graduation would be in Newcastle :party:
That'll do. Mine was at Durham, long time back. You will be in a good place. Best regards.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Just a quick one.

You mentioned that you’re going to do Prince 2 and APM as part of resettlement.

Have a look at the Defence Academy website, you can do the APM for free while still serving.

It won’t come out of your resettlement grant, meaning you can spend that cash on something else.

I did it a few years back and it’s been very useful in my civvy career.

As for degrees, I’m also looking at doing a Masters in a management subject. Everything I read and everyone I spoke to pushed me towards an MBA. There are quite a few accredited MBAs for around the 11-12 grand mark in the U.K.

I’ve been accepted on to Northampton’s MBA starting in September but am still weighing up options with other unis.

Durham seems to offer the best long distance MBA by far, but it’s 24 grand. Still a bargain compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or LSE (90 grand plus).
 
If I am honest I am still unsure exactly what I want to do. I keep defaulting to the vague 'management'. I'm a medic, so the most familiar sector would be healthcare, although it would not be my first choice.
I considered Management with Law purely for variation, something a bit different. I figured it would not harm to have a portion of that knowledge going into a new business environment. My BA was Business Management, the MSc is pretty much the same title but the modules are completely different.

I have looked at a few MBA's but I hear conflicting opinions about them, mainly accredited v un-accredited. Obviously, the accredited are mega expensive.

Major Sam McGrath- impressive! wish I had his knees!
=D

Medic! Let me check later to see if a particular course is still running.
 
Just a quick one.

You mentioned that you’re going to do Prince 2 and APM as part of resettlement.

Have a look at the Defence Academy website, you can do the APM for free while still serving.

It won’t come out of your resettlement grant, meaning you can spend that cash on something else.

I did it a few years back and it’s been very useful in my civvy career.

As for degrees, I’m also looking at doing a Masters in a management subject. Everything I read and everyone I spoke to pushed me towards an MBA. There are quite a few accredited MBAs for around the 11-12 grand mark in the U.K.

I’ve been accepted on to Northampton’s MBA starting in September but am still weighing up options with other unis.

Durham seems to offer the best long distance MBA by far, but it’s 24 grand. Still a bargain compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or LSE (90 grand plus).
Ravers, as a Reservist you are eligible for the part-time masters programme at Shriv. MOD picks up the tab, and you get paid. There is a Leadership MSc on the books which goes into organisational psychology and behaviour, as well as a few other decent modules.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Ravers, as a Reservist you are eligible for the part-time masters programme at Shriv. MOD picks up the tab, and you get paid. There is a Leadership MSc on the books which goes into organisational psychology and behaviour, as well as a few other decent modules.
Might struggle to get in it as an AB.

Don’t these things usually need to be backed by a robust business case?
 
Might struggle to get in it as an AB.

Don’t these things usually need to be backed by a robust business case?
Not sure about the rank. I met a junior rating doing a PhD recently, but don't know which programme she was doing it under. I think the Cranfield scheme needs you to fill in a form and get your 1RO and career manager to endorse. Don't suppose ABs have career managers, but I get the impression that its more about potential than rank. What do you have to lose?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Not sure about the rank. I met a junior rating doing a PhD recently, but don't know which programme she was doing it under. I think the Cranfield scheme needs you to fill in a form and get your 1RO and career manager to endorse. Don't suppose ABs have career managers, but I get the impression that its more about potential than rank. What do you have to lose?
Definitely worth a try thanks for the heads up.

The problem is I’m in a job that means I can never be promoted.
So when they ask “how will you having an MSc benefit the naval service?”

I can’t really say “it’ll make me better at fixing guns and changing fuses.”

I’ll definitely give it a go though. Owt for nowt and all that.

Cheers again.
 
Definitely worth a try thanks for the heads up.

The problem is I’m in a job that means I can never be promoted.
So when they ask “how will you having an MSc benefit the naval service?”

I can’t really say “it’ll make me better at fixing guns and changing fuses.”

I’ll definitely give it a go though. Owt for nowt and all that.

Cheers again.
What!? A man with your powers of persuasion?
You know it makes sense: Forensic Ballistics MSc
 

HE117

LE
The key point in that post is that you left the service and entered academia. The OP wants to go into management. The academic niceties of whether or not his degree is taught or research will make no difference when he’s going for a senior management role.

As for the MBA, it’s hardly a “recent American import”; the first MBAs in the UK were offered in the 1960s. You may sniff from about their “reputation in some quarters”, others see them as a necessary tick. As for you not hiring an MBA, why would you? You’re an academic? If you were hiring a general manager for your business, you’d probably think differently.

As a founder, I take a different view. If you want a basic understanding of the building blocks of how businesses work; marketing, strategic HR, governance, business leadership, corporate finance, operations process design, project management, corporate law etc etc, an MBA is the place to look.

Horses for courses. But for someone leaving the Army after 20 years who wants to prepare for a corporate business management role, I know where I would look. It wouldn’t be a research based Masters.
Ooh a bite!

Sorry Bob, I was doing a bit of MBA baiting, which as you point out, I would do anyway! (Some of my best friends have MBAs etc!)

My first degree was in Management Science.. adding an MBA to that would have been pointless, even if I was going into industry. You can do research based MBAs in all sorts of areas, and I have tutored many folk who have been able to walk straight into industry because they could demonstrate both a knowledge of a key area and an ability to manage and conduct a meaningful and substantial task producing a tangible product. I have several students who gained significant management positions solely on the basis of their dissertations. I have also run taught masters courses (and lectured on MBAs) so I am aware of the differences.

My main point however is that you need to match the course with your needs, interests and abilities, and take into account the subject, the structure, and the institution, as they all have a bearing on the value of the final award.

You can and should choose between the types of masters degrees available. You need to be aware of the characteristics of each.. horses for courses really. Taught masters do take up a lot of time, and it may be that some folk can make research masters fit better around their lives... It all depends!

What you need to do is find the right course, complete it and benefit from it!

I have seen far too many folk jump into the wrong course, for the wrong reasons and crash out, often doing themselves significant damage as a result. Doing any university course is a major commitment in both your time and resources. Make sure you do your prep, find the right course and gain the maximum you can from it...!
 

Iqbal Achieve

Old-Salt
Just a quick one.

You mentioned that you’re going to do Prince 2 and APM as part of resettlement.

Have a look at the Defence Academy website, you can do the APM for free while still serving.

It won’t come out of your resettlement grant, meaning you can spend that cash on something else.

I did it a few years back and it’s been very useful in my civvy career.

As for degrees, I’m also looking at doing a Masters in a management subject. Everything I read and everyone I spoke to pushed me towards an MBA. There are quite a few accredited MBAs for around the 11-12 grand mark in the U.K.

I’ve been accepted on to Northampton’s MBA starting in September but am still weighing up options with other unis.

Durham seems to offer the best long distance MBA by far, but it’s 24 grand. Still a bargain compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or LSE (90 grand plus).
Yeah same details, the majority of advice is MBA, which I do understand is more geared toward experienced managers/professionals. But, as you mention, the price can be an issue. My other concern would be the lack of availability for collaboration. I'm happy to be corrected, but my understanding is a large part of the MBA process is meeting people and networking. Whereas with an MSc I can lock myself away for a few hours a night and get stuck in.
 

Iqbal Achieve

Old-Salt
Yeah same details, the majority of advice is MBA, which I do understand is more geared toward experienced managers/professionals. But, as you mention, the price can be an issue. My other concern would be the lack of availability for collaboration. I'm happy to be corrected, but my understanding is a large part of the MBA process is meeting people and networking. Whereas with an MSc I can lock myself away for a few hours a night and get stuck in.
Just a quick one.

You mentioned that you’re going to do Prince 2 and APM as part of resettlement.

Have a look at the Defence Academy website, you can do the APM for free while still serving.

It won’t come out of your resettlement grant, meaning you can spend that cash on something else.

I did it a few years back and it’s been very useful in my civvy career.

As for degrees, I’m also looking at doing a Masters in a management subject. Everything I read and everyone I spoke to pushed me towards an MBA. There are quite a few accredited MBAs for around the 11-12 grand mark in the U.K.

I’ve been accepted on to Northampton’s MBA starting in September but am still weighing up options with other unis.

Durham seems to offer the best long distance MBA by far, but it’s 24 grand. Still a bargain compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or LSE (90 grand plus).
I have looked at the APM, i'll definitely give it a crack. I'll see how the timelines look for the MSc and maybe factor it in.
 
I'm intrigued!

Sorry, nope they don't appear to do it anymore. I was looking for a particular course that was run at DeMontfort; a specific MBA for the NHS. Can't find it, so they may have discontinued it. However, what I did bump into when I was googling for it was the fact that the NHS have appointed 7 other institutions to run NHS targetted MBA's.


As an FYI I am looking to start an MBA in around 18 months when I have the present course out of the way. Not for anything professional, just to keep my brain cells ticking over. Strange yes, but when I was doing post-grad I had a mate who was on his 6th masters degree and that was after 2 PhD's - as a university employee you get the courses free as long as you complete them, so he took advantage, and he was a bit like Sheldon Cooper.

Anyway, this is the place I sort of decided on, basically because it is cheap at £6K compared to what I have been told the price would be here in the US at $120K.

 
Just a quick one.

You mentioned that you’re going to do Prince 2 and APM as part of resettlement.

Have a look at the Defence Academy website, you can do the APM for free while still serving.

It won’t come out of your resettlement grant, meaning you can spend that cash on something else.

I did it a few years back and it’s been very useful in my civvy career.

As for degrees, I’m also looking at doing a Masters in a management subject. Everything I read and everyone I spoke to pushed me towards an MBA. There are quite a few accredited MBAs for around the 11-12 grand mark in the U.K.

I’ve been accepted on to Northampton’s MBA starting in September but am still weighing up options with other unis.

Durham seems to offer the best long distance MBA by far, but it’s 24 grand. Still a bargain compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or LSE (90 grand plus).

Northampton: I registered for, paid for, and attended the first week of the MSc in Web Design for online business. Then I left and demanded a refund. The lecturers were rolling in as and when they felt like it, students stood like lemons outside lecture rooms. The topper was when a phat phuq rolled in, literally, and said, "I decided to have a lie in today". Zero lesson preparation, etc, etc, etc.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Northampton: I registered for, paid for, and attended the first week of the MSc in Web Design for online business. Then I left and demanded a refund. The lecturers were rolling in as and when they felt like it, students stood like lemons outside lecture rooms. The topper was when a phat phuq rolled in, literally, and said, "I decided to have a lie in today". Zero lesson preparation, etc, etc, etc.

If I’m entirely honest, my experience with the application process has been fairly underwhelming so far.

I was actually supposed to start on Monday but I deferred until September because there is a possibility I might be able to get work to pay for it.

A fairly big deal starting an MBA you’d think, but apart from one email on the Saturday night before, I hadn’t received a single bit of correspondence from them.
 
If I’m entirely honest, my experience with the application process has been fairly underwhelming so far.

I was actually supposed to start on Monday but I deferred until September because there is a possibility I might be able to get work to pay for it.

A fairly big deal starting an MBA you’d think, but apart from one email on the Saturday night before, I hadn’t received a single bit of correspondence from them.

Just to put it in perspective for you. It is basically an old FE college, come technical college, that was based around the leather industry. Northampton was the home of British shoemaking and the college used to teach the apprentices for all of the local firms from Clarks, Doc Martens, Trickers, Grenson and Churchs. Then they all took most of their production overseas, the ones who did not computerised production so the college effectively died a death. Floundering around looking for a purpose they were more or less looking at grants from everyone and managed to re-invent themselves as a "new university".............with the same old FE staff in place.

Something else I will PM you.
 
Ooh a bite!

Sorry Bob, I was doing a bit of MBA baiting, which as you point out, I would do anyway! (Some of my best friends have MBAs etc!)

My first degree was in Management Science.. adding an MBA to that would have been pointless, even if I was going into industry. You can do research based MBAs in all sorts of areas, and I have tutored many folk who have been able to walk straight into industry because they could demonstrate both a knowledge of a key area and an ability to manage and conduct a meaningful and substantial task producing a tangible product. I have several students who gained significant management positions solely on the basis of their dissertations. I have also run taught masters courses (and lectured on MBAs) so I am aware of the differences.

My main point however is that you need to match the course with your needs, interests and abilities, and take into account the subject, the structure, and the institution, as they all have a bearing on the value of the final award.

You can and should choose between the types of masters degrees available. You need to be aware of the characteristics of each.. horses for courses really. Taught masters do take up a lot of time, and it may be that some folk can make research masters fit better around their lives... It all depends!

What you need to do is find the right course, complete it and benefit from it!

I have seen far too many folk jump into the wrong course, for the wrong reasons and crash out, often doing themselves significant damage as a result. Doing any university course is a major commitment in both your time and resources. Make sure you do your prep, find the right course and gain the maximum you can from it...!
I did say it was horses for courses!

At the end of the day, successfully running a business is essentially a practical discipline. Academic study has its place, but academics rarely run businesses.

IMHO running a business is a balance three basic skill sets. Firstly, the Technician. This is essentially inward looking, focussed on the product or service the business provides.

Secondly the Manager. This is essentially a control role and is about process. Again, this is inward looking and is essentially rearward looking; “let’s review last month’s performance and set targets for next”.

Finally, there is the Entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial covers the ability to identify and prosecute new opportunities, raise capital, negotiate contract etc etc.

Sure, the balance of the three varies from business to business, what the business produces, how big it is, how mature it is. In a small business, senior executives need to balance all three skill sets. In a big corporate, roles will be split. The gods in business development are the entrepreneurs, operations management manages and the production staff are the technicians. But it all comes together with the CEO, who needs to balance all three.

Personally, I’d argue that studying management, management science provides a theoretical understanding of business management. Studying Project Management provides a mix of technician and a niche of management. Neither of them do much to develop an entrepreneurial mindset or the skills necessary to be entrepreneur. An MBA should have a significant entrepreneurial bent.

Which heads back to what course to choose I think a big issue for many service leavers is that they have very little understanding of where they want to go and what they want to do in their second career. @Iqbal Achieve’s OP is fairly typical; he’s looking to go in to “management” without really knowing who or what he wants to manage.

This is not a criticism; it perfectly reasonable that someone who spends his first career in the Army would not have much idea of how businesses are financed and organised, how they operate. It’s also not an issue that is confined to service leavers; there are many people in businesses large and small who operate in a stovepipe without really understanding its context in the business.

IMHO generalism is the way to go until you know what specialism ignites your passion.
 

LimaOscar

Swinger
Apologies OP. I'm coming to this rather late. I have a few comments that may be helpful.
However, if you've made your choices and comments now are moot, I won't add to the mix
because others have covered the bases well.

I will offer one comment, which isn't too time sensitive. However you can manage it and even if you have to pay for it, get some professional career advice from a specialist career advisor. If you can, do some psychometric tests as the results should help tease out your preferences in terms of role type.
In fact a career advisor who's a psychologist would be best. Getting a better understanding of your own personality would help and is a good place to start. Then think about roles you're suited to, as well as those that really interest you. If your service branch will pay for it and it flicks your switch, get a trade. It'll always be something to fall back on, do part-time or it might become full-time.
Prepare yourself for a culture shock, when you take up your first civilian role. It definitely ain't Kansas!
 
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cowgoesmoo

Old-Salt
Durham seems to offer the best long distance MBA by far, but it’s 24 grand. Still a bargain compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or LSE (90 grand plus).
When I looked at this a couple of years ago the best advice I was given is that MBAs are pay-to-play and that the value of the top tier courses was in the networking opportunities. The teaching at Ox/Cam isn't 4x better than anywhere else but the opportunities to mix with the future global elite are what make it valuable. Maybe good for a young thruster with ambitions of shooting for the top but perhaps an unnecessary expense for those with a more established career path.
 

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