Thursday, 3 March 2016

The MSc Real Estate at Oxford Brookes: Why?

Andressa (right) at Welcome Week 2015

Andressa Minogue, administrator for the MSc Real Estate (and on the right in the above photo) posed a series of questions to two of the graduates from the MSc Real Estate 2014-15 and found out why they chose to do the MSc Real Estate at Oxford Brookes...

The students with the answers - Beth Blackburn (left) and Robin Tuck (right)


1. Location
Beth: For me location wasn’t a significant factor in my decision on which course to choose to study, it was more of bonus. Oxford is a really lovely place to live. It’s a beautiful city and there is lots to explore in and around the centre. Proximity and connectivity to London also comes in really handy for interviews and assessment centres if you are aiming to secure a job in London.

Robin: Oxford was a great location because it made trips to London very feasible and cheap - for interviews and tours which helped us put what we’d learned about real estate into context. Oxford, and nearby Reading, have both evolved as satellite business centres, and being in Oxford helped us experience the spillover effects and impacts of major cities onto their surrounding areas. The Oxford area is also still an area of significant development, and so we had access to local planners and developers, who could come in and discuss local projects that we could relate to.

2. Reputation
Beth: Reputation was the primary reason that I chose the course. When I first started looking into which course to study Oxford Brookes was one of the few which immediately stood out; particularly when I began seeking advice from people in the industry. The course is highly regarded in the industry which firstly is an indication of the quality of the course programme and secondly really helps with securing a graduate job. This is evident from the large proportion of students who secure a place on a graduate scheme before they have even completed the course.

Robin: I had a friend who had done the MSc in a previous year, and she spoke very highly of the course. Then, when speaking with industry professionals, I got the impression that Brookes had a strong reputation for excellent teaching, and small teaching groups. I’d heard that other courses had significantly larger classes with far less one to one time or interaction, and this convinced me that this course was probably better suited to me.

3. Teaching staff
Beth: Most of the teaching staff have professional qualifications and experience in their field which comes across in the lectures as they can relate the course material to their experiences in industry. This keeps the material covered practical and relevant as opposed to being too academic. Lecturers and support staff are approachable and easily accessible. The small course size in terms of number of students means that lecturers have time to see you on an individual basis which is really helpful and another of the main reasons why I chose the course.

Robin: It was great that there were staff with combined professional and academic experience, as often what one learns from a book tends to be different to how things are done in the workplace. There were some fantastic guest lecturers who brought their tales from the trenches, and this allowed us to put our book learning into the proper context. Staff clearly had an extensive network of contacts that enabled us to take trips abroad, and hear from some incredible speakers. The staff were very interactive and we always felt that questions would be answered no matter how obvious the answer.

4. Value for money
Beth: The MSc Real Estate at Oxford Brookes isn’t the cheapest course but I think that it is really good value money. There are a lot of extras that the course has which similar courses either don’t offer or don’t equal in terms of quality. I think that the day trips, networking events/opportunities and guest speakers are a real strong point of the course which others don’t provide to the same extent. The course is intense and a lot of material is covered over the duration. Field trips are also included in the fees. There is also a computer room in the Abercrombie Building which is dedicated to students on the course and the John Henry Brookes building is a great place to study. The careers service is also easily accessible really helpful so in terms of facilities and support the course also comes out on top of others I was considering.

Robin: The course seemed to be significantly cheaper than a few of the alternatives in the UK, which was appealing to me, and the fact that foreign fees were the same as the domestic fees was something that I know appealed to some of my international classmates.

5. Strong links with industry
Beth: Another real advantage of the course is the strong links with industry. There are guest speakers from industry, networking opportunities, an alumni society and buddy system. Many of the external speakers come from the major real estate firms so you have access to lots of individuals within the industry.

Robin: I know that Nick (French - the MSc Real Estate leader) has been teaching for a number of years, and that many of the professionals in the industry in the UK now, and abroad, are ex students of his. His contacts alone make the quality of the student experience significantly better. His experience and connection to so many old students makes his ability to create interesting interactions along the course of the program fantastic.

6. Course Structure 
Beth: The course is intense but well thought out so that that modules covered during the first semester provide the foundation which subsequent modules add to. The structure fits in well with the deadlines for applications and interview/ assessment centre dates. Field trips are well timed to integrate into the different modules and provide an opportunity to appreciate how the material covered in class relates to the industry.

Robin: There is also flexibility in the course that allows those with more of an interest in international subjects, or those that intend to return to their home countries, to learn a more relevant course. Meanwhile those focused on working in the UK can focus on learning British rules, planning, law etc. I thought this was excellent, as it allowed me to follow my interests.
The applied project (last part of the course) is also an excellent way to put some of the knowledge we’d learnt into practice in the ‘real world’, even though the project was hypothetical . Having to do this practical application of knowledge at the end of the course was immensely beneficial and allowed me to hit the ground running when I entered the professional world.

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