A Students Perspective
As the number of Performance Analysis MSc courses grows I thought it would be a good idea to get a students perspective. So I caught up with Eanna Kennedy to find out his experience in Middlesex University last year. Here are some of the questions I put to Eanna. I’m sure if you have any yourself you can ask them in the comments box below.
Rob: What made you pick the course in the first place?
Eanna: I decided to accept the offer of a place in the MSc in Performance Analysis last year for a number of reasons. First of all the course was only a year long (in fact it is really only 11 months; start of October – end of August). I felt that this would benefit me in terms of finances as I would only have to pay fees for 1 year and I would also be able to apply for paid jobs then as well. I still personally think that this is a big advantage of the course as you still get good work placements within the year.
Rob: Is there a lot to cover in 1 year?
Eanna: The disadvantage of the year long course can be that it there is a huge amount to cover in a short space of time and if you are not ready to start on day 1 and work hard for the full 11 months with coursework and your placement, you could fall behind very quickly. With an increased amount of reading and critical thinking needed from your undergrad some students can become overwhelmed with everything if they don’t start reading and working straight away. However, treating the course like it is a full time job and you should be fine.
Rob: What sort of contact time (lecture hours) are involved?
Eanna: In terms of finances, while rent in the London area is extremely high regardless of the area you live, a lot of my cohert lived at home and travelled in to London one day a week (Wednesday) for lectures. This would obviously be a huge advantage to people living within driving distance in terms of funding your studies. The negative side to this is that it doesn’t feel like you are part of the university and you can’t turn to a classmate for help with stuff. Even though I did live near the university, it was a weird experience as you wouldn’t know anyone around the place and never really felt like a student. However, with facebook and emails nobody is ever too far away to help you.
Eanna: Looking at the location, it was a major reason why I decided to go to Middlesex. It is a huge advantage to have so many professional clubs in the London area allowing students to get a good work placement to begin their performance analysis CV. In my cohert, people got the opportunity to work with the likes of QPR, Reading, Charlton, Brentford in football, Saracens and London Irish in rugby union and the English Institute of Sport for numerous other sports.
Rob: What type of work experience were you required to do?
Eanna: We were expected to work over 100 hours in total. This could be done any way you liked- 1 placement or a number of different placements combined. My placement hours were made up of 2 placements with Charlton (Football) and London Irish ARFC (Rugby). I spent the entire season with Charlton working with teams from u11 to u18 and also worked with the first team from February on. This was an excellent experience and gave me an idea of how PA is used in football. However, don’t be expecting to get paid well (if at all) as clubs see you as a cheap way of fulfilling the (EPPP??) requirements at academy level.
Rob: How did you find the lecturers & lectures themselves?
Eanna: The two main lecturers are Nic James and Ed Burt with guest lectures from other people including Mike Hughes. Both Ed and Nic are extremely helpful and make their lecturers interactive and enjoyable. With lectures only on Wednesdays, I feel that it is important that you don’t think it only requires 1 day off your week to do the course. It is important that you are in a position going into the university on a Wednesday that you have read papers in the subject area and have questions and queries ready to ask the two guys. Before you know it, the weeks go by and you have so many questions and problems you won’t know where to start. My main concern with lectures was that there just wasn’t enough of them with the course only being one year. I would have liked a few more just even just to go back over stuff as a nice reminder later on but I suppose at post grad level you are expected to do that yourself.
Eanna: Regards the lab, it will be new this year as it is moving to the Allianz Park with Saracens, but last year it was only a classroom and we brought our laptops in each week. We got licences for Dartfish and Focus and a number of biomechanic programs which were helpful.
Rob: Any thoughts on the University itself?
Eanna: One major negative that needs to be mentioned when you are thinking of applying for the course at Middlesex is the administration side of the university. However this has very little to do with the course itself so it shouldn’t put you off applying (I’m just warning you). The majority of people on the course have encountered problems with documents, deadlines etc but they do get there in the end and I have been told they are improving. During the application process, it took a long time for them to process my request and I didn’t find out that I had a conditional offer until nearly July. This was obviously a worrying time for me as I needed to go whether to get a job or take offers from other universities. Maybe, I still told a grudge against them for being so bad in dealing with my application that I am always seeing them in a negative life but I hope that if people apply they get through the process much easier.
Rob: Any final comments on the course?
Eanna: In all, the course is definitely up there with the best that others have to offer. The standard of teaching you will receive in top quality and all the necessary help you need is there for you (but you still need to be the one to initiate things). With hard work and dedication, there is no reason why you can’t graduate with an MSc in Performance Analysis and get a job in your chosen sport (with a little bit of luck thrown in).