Fabio Santana






Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals



By Fabio Santana

Easier than expected…

So the first term is finally over. Even with the extension of exams week to after the holiday break, my assessment of the Oxford MBA workload over the past few months is that it was actually much easier than expected.

From the start of my wife’s one year MBA programme in Boston, she was constantly in group meetings and working on assignments. Her weekends were rarely completely free and regular week nights were filled with readings and power point slides.

On the flip side, the Oxford MBA workload over the first term consisted mostly of case readings, which I typically completed in the one hour train ride from Oxford to London. My weekends were 99% free and I never had to stay at the business school past 8pm (unless it involved drinks of some sort). We literally had three group assignments over the whole term (Analytics, Finance, and Firms and Markets) and plenty of time to work on them in our groups of six. I don’t think I even had to write a single formal essay over the past four months.

I’m certainly not complaining about it. There is more to the MBA experience than simply coursework. Most people get involved in OBNs, clubs, sports, etc. and also appreciate having an active social life. The fact that I am married and living in London limited my social options outside of the business school so I had a lot more free time to focus on homework. Even taking that into account, I am still a bit surprised that we had so little coursework and did not have to work on any team presentations in the first term.

I can only assume that coursework volume is one of those differences between the American and British higher education systems. When I attended university in Boston (both Bachelor’s and Master’s), almost every course had weekly assignments. Homework was seen as a major part of the learning experience and you were expected to spend twice as much time on coursework than in class itself. The British (or maybe Oxford) system appears to focus less on coursework and much more on final examinations. Most courses had a final exam worth 70% of your grade, so that single assessment represented pretty much everything you learned in the semester.

I won’t discuss the merits and pitfalls of one system over the other. All I can say is that the Oxford MBA’s coursework over this first term was significantly different than what I expected.

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