Combining practice & theory - writing an academic assignment

08-Dec-2019 15:18:47

After the starter work shop at Henley UK and the good times with my fellow MBA students the real academic work must begin.

The first assignment that was supposed to be handed in only a few weeks after the starter workshop was PD1 – The first Personal Development Assignment.

This assignment should form the basis and the starting point of the Personal Development journey. This Personal Development Assignment and the Henley Personal Development Program I will describe much more about in my next article.

This article is about how to write an academic assignment and combining this with daily commercial challenges.

MBA and other academic educations

One might say that an MBA is more “practical” combared to going down into a certain subject my doing a PhD in a specific field. All MBA schools are different and they all have various academic standards hence the very difference assignment requirements.

But one thing is for such regarding all MBA programmes – they are more practical and you need to have some practical working and leadership experience, both to contribute to the discussions and to have some interesting challenges to work with.

Business writing and academic writing is different

Does that mean that an MBA is not academic challenging and that the assignments are not marked after certain standards? Absolutely NO!

At Henley Business School the requirements are quite high and once you have decided to go for a full MBA at Henley – then you should be prepared for writing academic assignment.

Is that difficult then and should you consider a local supplier of a mini-MBA or similar?

Not nessesarily! Academic writing is not hard at all! It might be that some old professors with strange clothing find it funny to scare new students by appearing important and making it harder than it really is.

Not saying that it is easy, but at Henley you will be provided with a study guide for each subject that tells you all the basic requirements for passing the subjects as well as all the academic requirements for the assignments.

For me it was not that difficult, I graduated from Copenhagen Business School only a few years prior to my beginning of my MBA. For some that has not been studying for 10-15 years is seemed a bit more challenging. But they all managed once they got to know the ways of working with the study guide.

Action learning only

The good thing about the MBA and the assignments is that you got to work with your everyday challenges or strategies from your day job. No Assignments are based on theory and some out-dated boring article that no one can relates to.

This means that before starting up a new subject – for instance Managing Processes and Systems you need to find a challenge or project that you are interested in working with in your assignment.

There is an assignment connected to each subject and all assignments need to be passed in order to proceed to the next subject. That stressed some of the students and I was also a bit nervous myself when logging into the university portal to check if I had passed or failed. Luckily I passed all of my assignments in the first attempt and that made me a lot less stressed during my MBA.

The foundation of the assignments is the everyday challenges, but the academic twist and the standards must still be met.

This means that all the assignments and the analysis within must be well documented and with use of various models and frameworks from the curriculum.

MBA assignments and classical Master level assignment at business school are different in the sense of practical usage. I have learned to make them useful and to form recommendations in the end that was supposed to be hands on and directly linked to the strategy of my company.

That was a bit hard since you were now not only supposed to pass – you were also supposed to not getting trouble by your boss!


In the end that is actually something that I have learned a lot from and something that I am using everyday at my job. The fact that everything you do must be grounded in rationality and based on solid facts. It have gotten much better at this and now I am also much better at estimating if an idea or project is good or bad.

So academic writing can be tricky, but once you have done your first assignments – the rest is easy when it comes to meeting the academic requirements. Finding a good challenge to work with might still be hard and keep on coming up with useful recommendations might also be difficult.


So do not be afraid or consider choosing a lower ranked local supplier of an MBA programme because of the academic writing and the high standards at Henley. Just follow these simple tips and start your academic journey.

  1. Be well prepared for each workshop – if you read the curriculum (or the most of it) it is much easier starting writing quickly. Read the study guide as soon as you receive it
  2. Find a challenge (from your business life) that you find interesting for each subject before start reading
  3. Write the intro of your assignment and the formulation of the issue before the workshop of the subject
  4. Generally – be a nerd and start early so that you are always one step ahead. Then you will not get stressed and the process will be more interesting and fun.

I hope that you find my tips and tricks useful and feel ready for academic (business) writing.

Stay tuned for my next blog in which I will describe how I have gotten closer to a better work-life-balance and what I have found to be the key elements of the modern work-life-balance.

These are my own “findings” and experiences after finishing my MBA and maybe something that potentially could benefit a future MBA candidate or just a hard working person who wants to excel on other things than just the professional career.

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