Becca Coster is Head of Marketing at Essex Business School.  In this blog, she explains how The Essex MBA programme has been developed to give part-time students the flexibility to combine their studies with their professional careers – enabling them to instantly put their learning into practice.

My role involves spending a lot of time speaking to prospective MBA students and helping them to understand whether The Essex MBA is the right course for them.

MBA enquirers to our part-time programme are always keen to understand more about how they can fit the course around their professional and personal commitments.

At Essex Business School, we’ve developed our part-time MBA to offer students flexible study without compromising the course content or quality. You can study the MBA module by module, over two to three years, giving you the freedom to decide how many modules to complete each year. We recommend committing to completing the course within three years to ensure that the knowledge and skills you acquire are still as relevant as possible to the current business landscape. The world of business moves swiftly and you don’t want to be left behind!

Develop your networking

A particular feature of The Essex MBA is that our full-time and part-time students share the same teaching sessions; we don’t have individual ‘streams’ for full-time and part-time students. This has the benefit of enabling you to make the most of the vast networking opportunities presented by your fellow MBA students.

As a part-time student, you’ll have the advantage of getting to know at least two full-time cohorts if you spread your course part-time over two years. This really allows you to grow your connections and learn from a wide range of peers from a diverse range of business backgrounds and cultures.

The ‘flipped classroom’ method

Mindful that our teaching has to be effective for both full-time and part-time students, we’ve recently moved to teaching The Essex MBA using the ‘flipped classroom’ method. Using this model, each MBA module will be delivered over two weeks.

Week one for each module is set aside for independent study, making use of Moodle, the University’s virtual learning environment. On Moodle, you will find a set of learning resources for each module, such as quizzes, exercises and articles, specially selected by the module leader. You can work through the materials at your own pace throughout the week, spending more time on areas that you find challenging, until you acquire the basic knowledge that underpins the module. You don’t need to take time off work or away from your business to complete the pre-learning as it is available on Moodle for whenever you have the time to start.

The following week will start with a face-to-face workshop led by the MBA teaching team. This is known as the initial module session and is an opportunity to ensure everyone in the class has developed the basic knowledge needed before the intensive module workshops begin!

The end of the second week comprises three full days of module workshops where you work alongside your classmates to explore case studies, share relevant professional experiences and apply your learning to real business and management situations. In essence you’ll be working with your group to present, discuss, pitch and do!

Timetabling the module workshops together into three full-days within a single week has really benefited our part-time students, who are often juggling professional and personal commitments around their studies. Instead of spreading module teaching over an entire 10-week term, as we do for other postgraduate programmes, MBA students have to commit to only a handful of days within a single week away from work or home, making it a much more flexible proposition.

Shortly after the module workshops, you’ll have one more group meeting with the MBA teaching team to ensure you have everything you need to begin work on the assignment or assessment for the module. Approximately four weeks later, you will be expected to submit your assessment for marking.

What do our students have to say?

Joseph Price is currently studying for an MBA part-time, whist running his own business.  This is what he has to say of his experience so far.

“I was slightly dubious before enrolling on an MBA, unsure how I would manage the added work that studying would bring. I met Nicolas the MBA Director and he explained how I could study over a longer period of time, rather than the usual twelve months as a full-time student, so I enrolled in a three-year pathway and am now in my second year.

Juggling a work-life balance with regular assignments, three children and a partner whilst running a business has had its challenges. Some modules require more time spent on them than others but, all in all, the same time is required for all assignments. I have had to make sure that I have allotted studying time before and after upcoming modules to ensure that I am fully prepared and stick to a set structure, however with all the additional knowledge and information that each module provides I have found that I am improving as a business owner and becoming more efficient with my studies.

Having a business does take up most of my spare time, as my MBA studies are quite time-consuming.  However, I was fully aware that some things would have to give if I wanted to achieve something great and the modules that I have attended so far have proved to be exactly that.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that a small part of the journey has not been quite what I expected.  We had to move to online teaching, which has impacted the cohort experience.  Teaching in my first year was face-to-face and the people that I met were fantastic.  It has been a great experience for me to date, I just hope we can get back to this way of learning sooner rather than later.

If you have a business and home commitments and you have concerns regarding managing your time, do not let that stop you, spread your studying over a longer period and take the leap, you won't regret it!”

Find out more about The Essex MBA