In the third and fourth years of Uni, we get to choose optional modules that allow us to customise our academic playlist for the year. The actual number of available options varies from theme to theme within the MEng Mechanical Engineering course, however, there is significant variety in the topics offered. This is something that I particularly like about my course since it gives me the opportunity to study subjects like Noise Control and Control and Instrumentation which are not directly considered as core Mechanical Engineering topics. This was an added benefit to the aerospace theme that I have chosen to pursue.

It’s important to be judicious while choosing optional modules because most of the times, the choice goes beyond just plain interest for the topic. Some common motives for module choices can range from It sounds interesting, it seems useful, I wanted to try something new to I thought it’ll be easy ­- it never is – I want to pull my grade up and ugh, which one’ll make life easy. These are very genuine reasons, and they often follow this order of thought as third years transition into fourth years. Some other important parameters to consider during the decision making process are one’s own performance traits under exam conditions and study style. Keeping this in mind, I present to you my biased opinion.

Personally, I feel that I receive greater benefit when I am tested via coursework. Its open book nature makes it more simulative of the real world and the wider timespans to tackle them offers the chance to dive into the subject, learn something and most importantly retain the knowledge acquired. Often I find that the pressure to do well in exams forces people to primarily look into the previous years’ question papers and work on the material as specific, set questions rather than actually study it. The result might be a solid 2:1 or a first but if you look under the hood, there isn’t much to show. Limited knowledge is retained post-exam.

Coming back to module choice, some courses are designed to have only coursework. Some others have a good balance of both. But this would mean putting in significant effort on both fronts. Too many courseworks worth very little can also be frustrating since they almost always consume more time than actually prescribed. The volume of material covered also matters and for those modules that require significant memorising, this could prove to be a major factor when revising for exams. The Materials modules are primary culprits for possessing this trait. Culprits because many students of engineering prefer doing maths and writing down things in specific details rather than give elaborate accounts of things.

In short, while keeping in mind the need to study a subject that one can relate to, it is also very useful to consider the actual structure by which module is taught. An interesting module could still end up becoming the bane of your semester because of how it is assessed and so it is beneficial to factor in one’s study style. In a way, it’s like choosing your battles wisely so that you can prevent yourself from needing to spray and pray at the semester’s end.


We’ve all been there
Fantastic Modules and How to Choose ‘em

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