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BSc Business Administration University of Bath
The new Advanced Diploma as a route into BSc Business Administration at the University of Bath: an interview with Dr Richard Kamm, Director of Studies, School of Management
Firstly, it would be interesting to hear what you think of the new advanced diplomas in general?
They’re an interesting mix of the academic and the practical, and that’s something that in the School of Management at Bath we also try to infuse into our courses ie. they don’t just involve thinking about organisations, but also applying knowledge either in the workplace or in practical projects. So, I’d say is there is a match between the principles behind both the advanced diploma and the School of Management’s courses.
Can you tell us a bit about the BSc Business Administration, the applicants it attracts and the career opportunities it can lead to?
We get applications from all over world (currently we have first year students from 32 nations). Students come onto the course from a wide variety of previous forms of study including A levels, the International Baccalaureate, BTEC national diplomas, various types of foundation courses and a huge range of overseas qualifications.
The course provides a general business education with a practical slant and isn’t aimed at a specific career. Students can shape the programme according to their own interests, so if they want to specialise in accounting or human resource management there is scope for them to do that. However, they can also choose to explore a range of subject areas too. Graduates go on to a variety of positions in Human Resource Management, Operations Management, Finance, Public Sector/Private Sector, Law, teaching – pretty well the lot!
What skills and knowledge do students need if they are to succeed on this particular?
In terms of knowledge, no particular previous study of business is required. What we like to see in personal statements is a curiosity about organisations, how they work and what makes them tick, as well as an interest in business and its place in the wider economic and social world.
In terms of academic skills, a student needs to have an ability to write at reasonable length and also to be able to apply mathematical and/or logical forms of analysis. These skills are needed in order for students to succeed in the first year units as well as on placements and as part of project work.
These skills can be developed from different forms of study. In the case of the diploma something we’ll be giving great importance to is the extended project, and in a personal statement we’d be interested to hear about what the applicant has learnt from doing the project and what kind of analysis they carried out.
However, general communications skills are also very important when it comes to doing work placements and group projects. The projects involve real business activities for external business clients and it’s important that students are able to get their points across, but also know when it’s appropriate to say things. Students need to have good group-working skills and be able to work well with people who have different points of view and do things in a different way. Students soon find out that it’s necessary on projects to do things because they need doing rather than because they enjoy doing them, so having a general willingness to muck in is a very useful skill to have!
The issue of mathematics often seems to come up in relation to university applications at the University of Bath! Do you think applicants coming via advanced diplomas are likely to have covered sufficient maths for your particular course?
Well, as I’ve said mathematical skills are important for the course – we ask for a GCSE grade B from all applicants. In terms of A levels, we would worry about a candidate who offers either all arts-based subjects or all numerical-based ones: instead we like to see a breadth of A level subjects. It’s the same principle with the advanced diploma. If students are taking an art-based diploma, then the additional and specialist learning gives them the opportunity to take a more mathematical or scientific A level alongside. However, in a diploma like Engineering there would be plenty of relevant maths content in the core subject, and we’d like to see a more qualitative A level as part of the additional and specialist learning.
Finally, what have you decided the course’s entry requirements will be in relation to Advanced Diplomas and how do they fit in with these skills and knowledge?
As we don’t require previous business knowledge we’ll be happy to consider students from a range of diploma subjects in addition to Business Administration and Finance, including Creative and Media, Engineering, IT, Society Health and Development, Land-based and Environmental Studies and Public Services. Applicants need to show a high level of achievement in these core subjects so we’re asking for an A in the Principal Learning element.
As I mentioned before, we’d like to see an A level in a subject unrelated to the core subject as part of the additional and specialist learning to show applicants can cope with different types of subject – the numerical/logical and the evaluative. And finally, we’re asking for a grade A in the extended project which needs to be a piece of written work such as a piece of applied research.