If you’re interested in studying at KI and were wondering what a typical academic workload looks like as a master’s student, then you’re probably at the right place. As a full-time MSc. Biomedicine student here, I am going to break down parts of my schedule and how I manage to stay on top of deadlines, manage multiple aspects of student life, and have some semblance of a personal life as well.
Right off the bat, let me be very clear- I have no fixed schedule. It depends on the course I am taking, and can range from a full day of lectures to an entire day spent in bed. However, in this section, I can try to generalise some commonalities all courses share.
While Karolinska Institutet obviously boasts of a world-renown faculty and wonderful lectures, it also heavily promotes self studies. As a result, every course I have taken so far has had “self study” marked down in the schedule which counts towards the ECTS and hours dedicated to the course. These self study days are usually pretty strategically placed before important deadlines and group presentations, so I generally try to make good use of them.
Another pretty standard part of every course’s schedule is a designated lunch break. For some reason, I have been asked plenty of questions about this, so I will clear the air right away. Yes, we have a lunch break every day. It is usually an hour long from 12:00 to 13:00 (can be longer depending on your schedule of course). People generally bring food they prepared at home and heat it up in the closest microwave, or if they have the time, they buy food from somewhere (a crowd favourite for my class is the Mae Thai near campus, fyi).
Lastly, every course has a handful of “mandatory sessions”, which- as the name suggests- are compulsory to attend. These tend to be course introductions or important lectures, and attendance is marked for these. So a word of advice- go through your schedule in advance and stay on top of mandatory lectures, unless you want to do compensatory work for missing it.
Examinations, deadlines, and assignments
This might differ from programme to programme (and even within the same course each year). So far, here is what I have noticed:
- I have not really given many traditional “exams”. I’m from India and the examination system there is heavily reliant on memorising information and answering questions about in on a piece of paper. Here, the exams I have given have usually been open-book and have tested my understanding of a concept rather than my memory of it. And regardless of the course, they have all been computer based. If a course does not have a traditional exam as a final submission, it is usually a group project or presentation, or even an essay/take home exam instead. This is way more common at KI.
- Depending on the duration and nature of your course, you can either have a couple of assignments a week or a couple of assignments in total. Deadlines for the same are made visible on the student portal. In my opinion, 90% of my courses have had manageable deadlines so far. And like I previously mentioned, self study days are scheduled before or around big submissions so you shouldn’t get too stressed!
My time management tips
Even though I have no fixed schedule, I have had weeks where I have barely had time to breathe and those that left me wondering why I didn’t have anything to do. In order to balance academic life and social life, there are a couple of things I do that have been helpful so far.
- Keep a track of deadlines and important dates. No, taking one look at your schedule on TimeEdit will not ensure optimal time management. Write it down if you have to. Essentially, have a system in place that allows you to submit assignments on time and to help you not miss important (especially, mandatory) lectures.
- Learn to prioritise. If you have a lot on your plate and there is too much work that needs to get done, order them in terms of importance and/or urgency. This makes your workload seem more “bite-sized” and manageable.
- If you can do it now, do it now. Essay that only needs to be submitted in two weeks, but you have an idea and a general outline? If you have the time to do it early, do it! You don’t have to submit it when you’re done, but this way you will optimise usage of your idea and your plan for it AND you will have time to proofread just before the deadline. Besides, if something else comes up around submission day, you are going to thank yourself for having finished earlier.
- Relax. Seriously, just chill out. In a busy week, it is important that you give yourself at least a whole day where you do exactly what you want, guilt-free. Whether it be a hike when the sun is out or stay in bed and binge-watch an entire series, try to keep one day aside to rejuvenate and recharge. Not only is this good for your mental health, it will actually boost your productivity too!
I hope this blog gave you an idea about my generalised course structure and personal time management. This is obviously not set in stone because courses at KI are very dynamic and prone to change with respect to student feedback. My best advice honestly would be to regularly check your course pages and contact your course coordinators in case of confusion.
Lastly, my heartiest congratulations to the newly admitted master’s students at KI! Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your time here!
I hope you found this blog helpful, and as usual, if you have any questions, you know where to find me!
My name is Naomi, and I am from India. I am a first-year master’s student in Biomedicine. I have always been drawn towards research and knew early on that a career built around it was the one for me. So as a result, here I am! I enjoy spending time with my friends and exploring the city with them (though the introvert in me also loves some alone time). I hope I can be of some help with my blogs!