The MA LIS – Term Two analysis

So, the teaching part of my course is long finished, I’ve finally handed in the last of my assignments (goodbye, Case Study), and now all that remains to do is my dissertation, which is due in at the start of September. I say ‘all’ as if it’s a tiny, insignificant piece of work. Not so, unfortunately! But this blog isn’t about my dissertation, it’s about my second term of teaching during my MA LIS at UCL. So here goes…

 I took three taught modules during my second term, and one untaught one. The two compulsory taught modules were Information Sources and Retrieval, and Management. The untaught module was Professional Awareness, and for my optional module I chose Manuscript Studies.

 Image  Information Sources

So first, the compulsory taught modules. Information Sources and Retrieval (taught by an external lecturer) was, I must confess, not my favourite module. For a start, it was first thing on a Monday morning which did not endear it to anyone, and secondly I found it too theoretically based for my liking. Although there were a few practical sessions, which were for the large part helpful, the taught theory sessions were, in my opinion, somewhat defunct. I felt that, having experience of working in a library, a lot of the information was not new to me and wasn’t particularly allowing for my having practical experience. That’s just my personal opinion though, I’m sure some of the other students really enjoyed it. Furthermore, the coursework was worth 100% of the mark, which stressed me out quite a lot, especially as I felt the guidelines were fairly broad. To be fair though, once I got started on the coursework, it wasn’t as complicated as I originally thought.

 

Image Management (great picuture!)

The second compulsory taught module, Management, was, to me, far more relevant. I’m aiming to be part of a management team at one point in my career, so it was helpful having sessions which made me consider relevant issues such as budgeting, getting new staff, training etc. Some of the lectures, which were at times shared with Archives people, were somewhat irrelevant, but in general I found the practical sessions helpful. That’s not to say that I always enjoyed them – we were working in teams for most of it, and it’s quite frustrating trying to get a consensus from 7 other people at times! In addition to this, there’s a high workload of coursework to compile a portfolio, so my advice for any future students is to complete each task as a team week by week, so there’s less to do before submission. Nonetheless, I felt like it was, in general, helpful as a module.

 Image A librarian driven crazy by the profession!

The third compulsory module, which was untaught, was Professional Awareness. The assessment for this was 50% exam and 50% case study. I found revising for the exam quite difficult as the questions can basically be about anything that is a relevant issue in the profession – a very broad range of possibilities. Additionally, the exam was in a venue miles away from the main UCL site which made it more difficult to get to, and was three hours long. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s a long time since I handwrote anything for three hours straight! My wrist didn’t know what had hit it! In addition to this, our exam date (not determined by the department, it should be noted) was in the first possible week, and in the same week as I had three other deadlines (some people had four), so was far from ideal timing. The department did move a couple of deadlines, but only after supplication from students, and after some delay. I don’t think it unreasonable to expect the department to figure out for themselves that giving students several deadlines and an exam in the same week might not be conducive to good marks…

Needless to say, I was not impressed! As for the case study, that was on an issue from work experience, which I enjoyed doing, but given the placement was so long ago now, it was quite difficult to remember some things. Still, it did make me recall everything that I liked about working at the House of Commons, so that’s good.

 Image Manuscript Studies

Finally, for the optional module. As I said above, I chose Manuscript Studies this term (taught by an external lecturer), mainly because it was something entirely new to me (I’ve got absolutely no experience in old books/manuscripts) so I thought I’d give it a try. Overall, I enjoyed the course. Some of it was incredibly challenging (being able to speak Latin would definitely have been a help!) but I actually really enjoyed the challenge of puzzling out the different scripts and deciphering them. That being said, I definitely didn’t enjoy the often breakneck speed of the classes, the lack of electronic aid (such as a Powerpoint) and only being given a five minute break in three hours. While I understand that I am there to learn, (and given the cost of the course, am eager to get my money’s worth) it is physically impossible for people to concentrate that long. Assessment was in the form of a transcription exam and an essay; my main problem with this was trying to find resources for the essay. Thank God for Senate House! This is one of the huge bonuses of UCL – it having so many libraries (and affiliated libraries) ensures that you can almost always get the book you need.

Anyway, that’s my assessment of the second term modules. I know I tend to criticise (who doesn’t?!) but I can honestly say that I’ve really enjoyed doing my course at UCL. I’ve made some great friends, had some brilliant lecturers and been given some amazing opportunities. Now there’s just the dissertation to face…

Images courtesy of Microsoft Word Clip Art

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