- MA Intelligence and International Security
The most challenging aspect of the module had to be the unusual nature of the 'flipped classroom' concept that encourages students to get out and learn on the go as opposed to be taught in a typical formal and structured way where you are expected to absorb the material thrown at you. Combine this with the need to conduct upwards of 10 interviews a week, it makes for a very fast-paced module that requires you to be continuously agile and flexible, especially when juggling it with your other modules.
That said, it is very exciting to be challenged this way, you constantly learn and evolve your understanding of your assigned problem and our encouraged to continuously think critically and question or approach to your findings. What makes these challenges easier is having your team, problem sponsor, and the teaching staff there to support and guide you every step of the way throughout the module.
The biggest experience gained is the networking and practical experience. It is a welcome change from more theoretical and academic approach to studying security/defence. I do not see a better way to learn about this than being exposed to one of the largest government departments in the UK and being able to speak with military personnel, civil servants, and relevant stakeholders in the private sector from a variety of different ranks, positions, and backgrounds.
In terms of the skills gained, I would say this has to be resilience and adaptability. This course is a rollercoaster of emotions that will push you mentally, and it is important to not lose sight of the purpose of being involved and self-aware of why you are doing it and who you are doing it with. You build many positive relationships through the networking with the people you interview, and more importantly the relationship with your team and problem sponsor.
As for adaptability, it is important not to become fixated on one line of investigation and always being aware of the bigger picture of your problem. You must be able to change your actions and thinking as your understanding grows, allowing you to test new hypotheses to really ensure there is rigour behind your research. Likewise, no stone goes unturned, and there are many potential directions to work through, so you must be able to move quickly to investigate these. In the wise words of Professor Moran, it is important to fail and fail fast so you can continually adapt to your understanding.