MSISS, and My Thoughts After Year One

(Course homepage from the Trinity College Website)

Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

In this post, I just kind of want to self-reflect on my college course for a bit, and talk about how I feel about it after my first (pretty much full) academic year.

Alright so before that, let me introduce my course a bit first.

I’m currently studying Management Science and Information Systems (or MSISS, for short) in Trinity College Dublin. It’s sort of like a combination of business, maths, and technology, where we take modules with a variety of other courses including business students, STEM students, and computer science students.

The modules we had this year include economics, management and organisation, statistics, engineering maths, programming, management science, and software applications. Undoubtedly, it is a rather interesting mix of disciplines, ones that are in relatively high demand these days too, which is great. I think the way I’ll be writing this post is by going through each individual module, giving my thoughts on them, and then finally I’ll give an overview of the other aspects of the course as well (course mates, course-related events, general student life doing this course etc).

So without further ado, I think we’re ready to go!

Economics Module Review

Management and Organisation Module Review

Statistical Analysis Module Review

Engineering Maths Module Review

Management Science Module Review

Software Applications Module Review

Programming Module Review

MSISS Social Life

TL;DR / Closing Thoughts


Economics📈

As a person who has never studied economics before, this definitely had a pretty intense learning curve. While the module originally started off pretty well, I will admit the material started becoming harder and harder, as more and more maths, graphs, models, and proofs started to intermingle with the material. That being said, a lot of the stuff taught here was still quite interesting…once you could wrap your head around it all.

Particularly with macroeconomics, which is what we are doing now in the second semester, the module heavily promotes the need to see how everything in the economy affects each other. You need to understand how inflation increases the interest rate, how an increasing interest rate lowers the money supply, how demand and supply is affected in all this, etc.

Of course, both microeconomics and macroeconomics modules did discuss some pretty interesting stuff too, in my opinion. For example, the module gave me my first proper introduction to game theory, by exploring the Nash equilibrium, the Prisoner dilemma, Pareto efficiency etc, which was definitely a highlight. Even in macroeconomics, exploring the labour market, economic growth and measurement was still quite fun.

Another thing I must admit is a cool part of the module, are the problem sets. Though they are marked and are quite tough, these problem sets are set weekly, and train students to critically apply recently learned concepts, in order to solve real world example problems. They’re absolutely no fun when you’re in the middle of doing them, but looking back and at the big picture, they were integral to my understanding of certain economic concepts and tools.

Overall, I think the economics module is one of the more interesting ones, that encourages students to think more critically about how everything in the economy is inter-related, and is definitely a good addition to the MSISS module list.


Management and Organisation🗂

This is a bit of a tough one to decide. While certain aspects of the module were well constructed and interesting, other parts simply failed completely.

To start, the module is split into a plenary session in one week, a seminar session in the next week, and then this cycle repeats. To prepare for a plenary, which is basically just a lecture, you’re ‘required’ to read some academic research papers talking about the upcoming topics. Then, these concepts and ideas are discussed more in depth in your seminar group, with tasks and assignments often set, which you must complete and submit before the seminar session. Other times, no preparation is needed, and you just need to go to your seminar to play a game, which uses some of the topics discussed in the plenary the week before, and then a reflection is written.

I’ll hands down say the seminar sessions were the highlight of this module. My seminar leader was fun, charismatic, and always helping us navigate through the module material. The tasks and assignments set for the seminars often require us to apply what we just learned from readings and lectures, in the form of either presentations, reports, posters, etc. The games played were also reflective of the module material and most of the time pretty fun.

The plenaries, however, did not stand out to me at all. Often times, these simply repeated what was taught in the readings (which I suppose is good for those who don’t do them). While the lecturer is not that bad, she does tend to drone on and on about a topic sometimes. And while it is a bit unfair to list this as a reason why I didn’t like the plenaries, I still consider it necessary to at least mention: the lecture hall was simply too massive. If you were sitting at the very back, or others near you begin gossiping, paying attention to the plenary became much, much harder. Obviously, the way to counteract that is to just sit more at the front, but that’s oftentimes undesirable 🙃

All in all, a decently constructed module, which DOES teach you some interesting management concepts, but just fails to deliver in some areas of it.


Statistical Analysis📊

By far one of the more difficult modules in the course. Not only are you introduced to a completely new programming language, R, that is specifically designed to conduct statistical analysis, but honestly a lot of the material is just difficult to grasp sometimes.

I feel like the difficulty exists because so much of the later concepts and ideas introduced to you are built upon earlier concepts and material. So if you didn’t have a good enough understanding of the previous material, you will undoubtedly struggle with the current material. In economics, for example, a lot of the stuff we learnt was pretty separate from each other, and topics only overlapped with each other occasionally. Not many topics are dependent on understanding previously discussed topics.

In stats, however, this is completely different, and you absolutely must get your basics down, in order to understand the later lectures.

The lecturer for the module, I must also admit, while fun occasionally, wasn’t the best at teaching. So I guess she receives part of the blame for the difficulty of the module, in my opinion, as a lot of the concepts and ideas I had to look up and teach myself.


Engineering Mathematics➕

Some very advanced and difficult mathematics, from my perspective. That’s pretty much it…

Okay but in all seriousness, the only reason why I think I’m perceiving this module as ‘hard’, is only because I’ve just met these maths tools and concepts. I feel if I get more time to grapple with and do more practice problems on them, I would become relatively comfortable with them.

Like, literally all of my friends who are in years higher than me, or are doing more maths-heavy courses than me, all go on and on about how easy the maths in this module is. That’s why I’m hoping during the summer, I’ll get the chance to tackle these concepts and topics more, to the point where I can firmly agree with them😭


Management Science🧬

This was, undoubtedly, the most interesting module this year. A lot of you might be scratching your head and wondering “What on earth is management science!?”.

It basically just has to do with solving practical management problems, typically found in organisation contexts. For example, some of the topics include decision trees and decision analysis, which basically gives you tools and concepts to try make the best business decisions, depending on your goals.

Another interesting topic, which we covered in the second semester, was queuing theory. As implied by the name, it literally is about the theory of queues, lines, and waiting systems. Using the tools and formulas taught here, you can predict how many people are in a line in any given time, how many servers are needed given some info about the line, and more importantly how to reduce waiting times in lines.

We also learn about inventory management, time series and forecasting, networks, and honestly a good mix of other interesting topics.

Unfortunately, the reason why I still wouldn’t give the module a perfect 10/10 score, is because often times I feel the lecturers’ explanation of a topic wasn’t sufficient, and I had to scour for other resources to teach myself the concepts.

But in terms of interesting topics, this module ranks the absolute highest among the others. Honestly some super fascinating topics, that I can definitely see myself apply in real life.


Software Applications💻

Unfortunately, this module also had the potential to be one of the greatest. When looking at the module outline, you’ll see some topics actually seem to be interesting and useful. Web design, Microsoft Excel and Python all seemed like a good mix of ‘software’ to learn.

Unfortunately, the lecturer simply wasn’t ‘it’. In truth, it would be odd to even call her a lecturer, as she didn’t really lecture us on the material, but instead just wrote a PDF document and had us read it to teach ourselves. If I knew this was the case beforehand, I honestly probably would’ve learnt better via YouTube, Skillshare, or some other online learning platform.

To be fair, she did offer help and assistance during the lab sessions when we asked, but even that was still limited.

Overall, a pretty disappointing module that once again had potential to be great and interesting.


Programming⌨️

By far the most difficult module. Though I took some programming classes back in high school for Python (which I’ve unfortunately mostly forgotten), this was the module whose assignments have caused by far the absolute most anguish.

The sheer annoyance that would arise after multiple attempts to get a program to run was practically unrivalled during my college experience. Sometimes, after hours of trying to code a solution, I would stand up and be hit with the most painful headaches. It was truly difficult. That being said, it was also by far the most rewarding module,

MSISS Social Life

Because of the small course size, everyone in MSISS pretty much at least knows each other. You’ll talk to almost everyone at least a couple of times, and get to know some of them even more. In my own opinion anyway, most people in the course are generally quite outgoing and friendly, while also being ambitious and hard-working.

Another thing with MSISS is that all the years are (mostly) quite well-knit. Activities and course events are often planned in conjunction with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years, so you will absolutely get to know many of your seniors. This isn’t usually the case with most other courses, from what I’ve heard, so that’s pretty neat.

While the course might have a slightly bigger workload than most others, I find it usually didn’t prevent me from enjoying what societies and events the campus had to offer. I still managed to make a fair amount of friends and acquaintances outside the course, and participated in loads of events and activities too!


I would definitely be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally experience impostor syndrome in MSISS too. The fact is, most people in my course are quite brilliant. In programming, in Excel, in maths, in web design, in understanding economics and management science, or even in extracurricular activities. I certainly have thought about whether or not I truly deserve my place in this course sometimes, but I suppose I’ll let my future results decide for me.

TL;DR/Closing Thoughts

When I look at the big picture, I’m pretty satisfied with what MSISS has offered me in my first year so far. I’m walking away from the academic year with a solid foundation in skills like programming and maths, having gained new and interesting concepts from economics and management, and having had a solid introduction to management science and statistics. I’ve made friends and connections with terrific people inside and outside of the course, and have definitely have a good taster of the college life.

The course is undoubtedly challenging; though I feel like most students would also say that about their college course. And even though my time management skills, study discipline, and bank account figures weren’t the best this year, I still consider my 1st year to be a relatively enjoyable experience🙃

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