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Advanced International Business Management Dual Award: Programme Overview

University of Groningen

Hi everyone! Here’s a programme overview for you, based on my experience as a double-degree Master’s student on the Advanced International Business Management Dual Award MSc/MSc (or ‘AIBM’ for short).

Semester One: Newcastle

The curriculum during the first Semester in Newcastle includes six modules.

One is AIBM-specific, covering statistics and quantitative methods. For people like myself, it is great to have such classes because I did not have many opportunities to study statistics during my undergraduate degree, and it’s a relevant and important skill to have in the workplace.

The remaining five modules are shared with students from other Master’s programmes (such as International Marketing MSc and International Business Management MSc modules). It was great to be blended in with other students because it allowed us to meet, interact and work with much bigger pools of students. In fact, I was able to make many friends from different study programmes, which was great for both my social and academic life!

  • Two modules dealt with people and cultures on a broad scale, wherein interpersonal skills and reflections are important.
  • Another dealt with all the ins and outs of business strategies, which is a fundamental component of any company we will end up working for.
  • The remaining two modules, Marketing Research and International Business Environment (IBE) are extremely different, but offer grounding and global perspectives on the world we are currently living in.

While the Marketing Research module focused more on theoretical aspects and prepared us for our dissertation research, the International Business Environment module is very practically driven with lots of insights from today’s world, economics and geopolitics. It was my favourite module as it combines relevant knowledge along with developing your critical skills.

As you can already tell, each class is different in its approach and learning outcomes, but all have their purpose.
What struck me the most during my time at Newcastle University is that the library is open 24/7. This gave me large rooms to focus on my work, hang out with friends, relax, having lunch and coffee breaks amongst other cool things.

In fact, what’s better than being constantly immersed in an international and vibrant environment when studying international business and management?

Semester Two: Groningen

The University of Groningen has different ways of teaching and offers more flexibility in its approach. The semester is broken down into two so-called “blocks”. We had to take seven courses across the two blocks. You can actually choose to divide the classes over three blocks, which means that you would have to enrol in a module while writing your Master’s thesis, which I do not recommend due to the heavy workload the thesis requires.

I decided to split my schedules into three courses in block 1 and four modules in block 2 which somewhat evenly split the workload. Amongst the seven courses, four of them are mandatory and three of them are free choice (modules which you can pick out from a list).

This adds another component to our Master’s degree and enables us to tailor our studies to fit our objectives and enhance our learning and knowledge on specific subjects which can give us an edge over others!

I personally took the “Corporate Social Responsibility” module, which was one of the most interesting modules I’ve had! While I’m usually not particularly interested in sustainability topics, I found this module very challenging in the ways of thinking, behaving and the learning experiences are plentiful which pushes you to sharpen your critical thinking skills.  I also took the “B2B Marketing” and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” and each module added its own value.

Studying in two places

In my opinion, the main differences between the two different universities and modules are the workload, class size, pace of studying and environment.

For example, the month of January is very hectic in Newcastle because it precedes the exam period, thus we have to study a lot and review all of our modules in roughly a month, whereas throughout the Semester, the workload is evenly split up.
While we might have assignments or group projects during the Semester, the workload is not too dense, and the course content is fairly easy to digest which makes it great for the learning experiences.

Also, that leaves us more time to enjoy the city, network with people, get some friends and enjoy the busy nightlife at Newcastle!

In Groningen, the workload is always fairly intense I’d say, there are always some papers to read, assignments to hand-in or group projects to work on. It can seem quite daunting and challenging at first, but it’s just different!

The work that needed to be provided was more consistent throughout the semester, but we still had time to enjoy our weekends, explore the country and enjoy the student city vibes!

The good point is that the exam periods were less stressful because we had to keep working vigorously during the Semester, so all the content was still fresh, and the exams were in my opinion less demanding. The class size also varied quite a lot which also has an impact on the learning environment.

In Newcastle, there are usually fairly big (anywhere from 30 to 250 students) but there are always seminars scheduled throughout the semester which gives us the opportunity to ask questions, reflect on the learning materials and practice what we have learned during the lectures.

In Groningen, we also had seminars, which were very similar to the ones in Newcastle. The classroom was much smaller, anywhere from 10 to 30 which offered more discussion, debates and questions.

The Dutch way is extremely oriented towards debating certain subjects which is great as it challenges your beliefs and makes you defend your point more, which is as I can tell very important in the working place.

Both cities are vibrant and hectic as they are both student city. I personally prefer Newcastle, the weather is better, more nightlife events and easier to meet up with people in general!

Semester Three: Newcastle or Groningen

The Research Semester is very different from the previous two.  We could choose to write our Master’s thesis in Newcastle, Groningen or even from the comfort of our own home.

I personally chose to stay in Groningen, as opposed to staying at home, because I needed to be in an environment geared towards studying where I could get inspiration and motivation from my colleagues and friends also working on this project, which I think is very important, given the current climate.

The Research Semester lasts for about four months. While we followed a set of modules during the previous two Semesters,  meeting deadlines and working on group assignments or preparing for exams, this last part of our journey took us to another level, where we needed to plan and visualize the dissertation and break it down into smaller pieces.

It was my first time writing a thesis and it was honestly daunting and challenging, with many setbacks and other aspects but I managed to tackle it sufficiently. As our professors advised us, it is a long and difficult project to carry out, but it’s the last obstacle in our way before finally calling ourselves a double-degree master holder, which is truly rewarding!

Top tips

I took it slowly and tried to set “mini daily goals” that helped me to move forwards without feeling too unmotivated by the heavy work that is required from us. Also, chatting with other students also helps as you see their progress and things they struggle with, so you can help each other out, which is very important, especially during this time.

Final thoughts

If I were to summarize this experience, I would say that this unique program is for people who like adventures and new challenges. I was able to connect with various students from so many different countries and cultures, all within two distinct environments.

This has not only shaped my eagerness to keep on travelling and evolve within international settings, but also gives me a vivid understanding of how to navigate across different environments which will certainly make me stand out amongst my peers.


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