The Differences Between Bocconi and Manchester

By Georgia Reid, Università Bocconi, Italy

Today marks one month of living in Milan, and despite only being in week 3 of lectures, I have noticed a vast difference in the learning and teaching styles between Manchester and Bocconi.

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Months before I arrived in Milan, I had to complete an accommodation application, from which I gained a spot in their ‘exchange student’ accommodation. Many people didn’t because it was first-come, first-served, leaving them to find their own accommodation. When I arrived, however, there weren’t as many exchange students as expected, with many first-year Italians living in our accommodation. There were similar issues with not enough spaces being provided in different modules – a great choice but with limited space.

The main difference I have noticed is with the style of teaching at Bocconi. There are only lectures – no seminars or workshops – which are three hours long with a fifteen-minute break in the middle. I personally enjoy this much more because you may only have the module one day per week, however some days can be very long (10.15am-7.45pm on a Tuesday is not fun, although I’m lucky to have a Friday and Monday off). Although there are only lectures, there is a heavier workload than in Manchester, potentially covering up to 150 slides during one lecture. The modules are very in-depth and specific, which is beneficial for future careers because it is so focused. I feel as though I have learned much more about each topic which I never would’ve gained. Lectures aren’t recorded, so attendance is extremely important, and each module has different attendance requirements.

One factor that I find extremely beneficial is how much the university invests in students’ career prospects. In my three weeks of lectures, I have had guest speakers in from Balich Wonder Studio, Wavemaker, and even Red Bull, who have set our group project and will be there when we make our presentations. The industry-specific knowledge they provide, alongside all of their opportunities, is incredible.

Full-time Bocconi students are required to have knowledge in many fields, with many courses having only one optional module. This means that many modules available to exchange students have pre-requisites, and you must be knowledgable on such otherwise it will be extremely tough. I had to drop Marketing Analytics due to not having enough statistical knowledge, however, Bocconi students had to study statistics in their first year, making them more well-rounded.

One issue, however, is that some modules require you to purchase the textbook for their courses. Each module is different, some wanting you to buy it, others not using a textbook at all. This can be extremely expensive, alongside some modules requiring software and licenses to be purchased to complete coursework.

My favourite factor is that exchange students have the option to complete their exams in different sessions, for example, before and/or after Christmas. This takes the stress away from Christmas because you can choose to take them all before, allowing you to enjoy the break!

Despite my conflicting opinions, I’m enjoying my time at SDA Bocconi School of Management – it’s very different to Manchester and will take some getting used to!