Which elective course is the right one for me? – Opinions by second year Health Informatics students

Are you a first year Health Informatics student? If yes, then this blogpost is the right one for you.

In third semester of our programme students get to choose between two elective courses: “Introduction to Information Security” (Introsec) and “Entrepreneurship”. As it is quite hard to get an unbiased view about what both of these courses are really like, this blogpost will summarize current second year student’s opinions about the elective courses in our programme. The summaries and quotes below are taken from a questionnaire that I sent out to my classmates. The answers from free text fields are published with everyone’s consent.

Setting the scene and a personal disclaimer
Before we had to make our choice for the elective course, there was a kind of hysteria about Introsec. People were saying “Do not take this course, you won’t be able to pass this exam”, “It is too much work”, “Go the easy route, do the Entrepreneurship course”.  This resulted in only 4 people choosing Introsec this year. I was one of them.  To me, it felt like I would have been bored out of my mind with Entrepreneurship, since I know the course book (Business Model Generation) by heart. I had worked with it in my previous studies. So for anyone still having to make the decision, here is an overview of what people have experienced this year (autumn term 2019/2020):

Number of Students who chose Introsec: 4
Number of students who chose Entrepreneurship: 40

Summary Introsec

Satisfaction_Introsec Exam_Introsec


What did you like about the course?

Hands down, this was one of the best courses I have ever taken and the best teacher I have ever had. The course is structured in twenty study blocks, which contain both videos, reading material from the course book and external links. Our professor has really put a thought into the learning experience you will get from his course! He is a specialist in his field, but I find he is even better when it comes to teaching. It is not about memorizing material, this course is about studying things and questioning everything on the way! Thus, we critically evaluated all the models and subjects that were introduced to us, which I find very unique.

The format of the course was designed to help students learn as much as they could. There were various resources available to students, both in class and online, specifically for students to clear up misconceptions and ensure students understood the topics fully. Alan wants to help students learn and welcomes questions and clarifications. I can honestly say he was the best professor I have ever had and the course was one of the best organized courses I have ever taken. I learned so much more than I could have imagined and due to the nature of the course, will remember the topics learned well after the course is over.

The teaching triad of preparatory videos/reading, initial reflection session and clarifying afternoon discussion. I like that we were always encouraged to connect concepts with real life IT situations so that you can make any idea intuitive for someone you encounter at a cocktail party (or your future employer).

What would you want students to know when they decide to take this course?

This course runs in parallel to “Current Trends” in the second half of the third semester. Thus, the teacher is allowed to take 50% of your time aka 20 work hours. And this is the amount of hours you will have to spend on studying the subject each week. If you are not able to put that time in, this course is not for you. Furthermore, this course will have an examination that is unusual. It is composed of 5 questions, that each have to be answered essay style. The exam is special in the sense that you have to get a “pass” on each question. You will not pass getting e.g. 50% of all points. Therefore, you need to have an understanding of each of the 20 study blocks. You do not need to get all the details, you have to understand the broad context.

It’s hard but worth it. That is one of the best courses on the program

It will be a lot of work as you must keep up with the study blocks as they are assigned. Go to all available seminars and workshops as they are very useful. At the same time you will learn so much that is not only interesting, but also will apply to your future works and life in one way or another. Do not let what others have said about the course deter you from taking it, just be prepared to work hard. Know that the teacher in this course is one of the best you could have and that shows in the effort he puts into his course.

This course provides you with essential knowledge for the security of medical data, which extends far beyond the common privacy discussions. All the classic IT security tools, e.g. cryptography, firewalls etc., will be put in perspective so that you can reason where to use them and what their downsides/benefits are. You do not need any prior technical knowledge. When you actively participate in the course, it will become clear to you and easy for you to have an opinion on. It was one of the best courses I have had, because it takes you on your thought journey so that at one point it feels obvious that A follows from B and that this is what we should do.

Any further comments?

A downside of the course was that the practical assignments required too much to work for a half time course which made me skim over concepts rather than explore them in depth.

Summary Entrepreneurship


What did you like about the course?

Possiblity to work in a group with IT people outside of our HI course
It’s an easy going course with little workload.”
“Different styles of examination/ assessment – a mix of exam and pitches / presentation, the scope for creativity, organised and efficient course leader”
“the pitch trainings were really good and useful for those who would like to use these skills in the future”
“The way it encouraged us to build idea and creativity.”

What would you want students to know when they decide to take this course?

“This is the right course if you want to explore how to build own business. It is right choice if you have many other tasks and activities at the same time.”

“There is only little to no teaching in this course. It is all about the book which is needed for passing the exam and completing the assignment.”

“You need the course textbook for the exam, you will probably have to do an individual pitch at some point, the course is mostly group work with a very short exam at the end, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of the Business Model Canvas and how all its components tie together, and a brief introduction to varying company roles, but other than this you won’t go into much detail for anything else and other aspects of running/starting a business, the learning curve of this course is not very steep, you can have ‘fun’ with this course if you want to, it has scope for creativity and originality (as you will set up a scenario for your own business using your own business ideas), it is more creative than theoretical, you probably don’t need to revise at all to pass the exam”

“It is a very simple overview of the business model canvas. It is more interesting to take the similar course on Coursera.”

“it’s an easy to pass course but in the same time interesting enough, gives you skills and knowledge you can use in the future”
Any further comments?

“I think the balance between this course and the alternative in terms of difficulty, workload and learning is a little unfair; however, students do get the choice so as long as they are made aware of this at the start there’s not too much of an issue. The course should have included more theory in my opinion and the questions in the exam should have required more inference rather than simply re-stating the text in the book. The lectures often focused too much on the merits of individual companies rather than the generalisable aspects of running a successful business. I think there should be a third course option for students, perhaps something between the two that has more of a mixture of technical aspects and creativity rather than mostly being one or the other. The course leader was efficient and gave good feedback for the final presentation but I would have preferred more feedback throughout, and I would have liked feedback tailored to individual groups for the pitches given the amount of effort we put in.”

The Introsec is also interesting. It would be really good if the programme teacher could arrange this course exclusively for us (Health Informatics students).



Ahmed Molah

Ahmed Molah

Thanks for this valuable comparison and insights about these courses.

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