The importance of international business is greater than ever as companies around the world become better connected. Find out where a degree in this field can lead
China, Japan and India's economies are among the world's top ten (second, third and sixth, respectively), reflecting the fact that the majority of gross domestic product (GDP) is now generated outside of the USA and Europe. This trend is set to continue in the future, with Indonesia, Brazil, Russia and Mexico expected to join the top ten by 2050 (The World in 2050, PwC).
Understanding international business operations is increasingly important for today's business graduates, and this is where postgraduate courses come in useful.
International business programmes give students an understanding of the different business management practices found all over the world, and prepare them for graduate careers working abroad or in organisations that are engaged in business on a global scale.
Why choose international business?
'In an ever-changing global business and economic environment, studying business from an international perspective is vital for graduates who are ambitious to work across international boundaries and cultures,' explains Dr Robert Webb, associate dean for international engagement at Nottingham University Business School.
In a nutshell, students need to develop a global perspective in order to be successful in business. Studying international business allows you to see how globalisation has brought about an increasing 'connectedness' of businesses, markets, people and information across countries.
'Working across countries is a necessity for most firms today. Hence, there is a growing need for business and management graduates with an international perspective, who are capable of operating effectively in a globalised world. This concerns not only senior managers, but employees at all levels that have to interact with international customers and suppliers, partners, or international colleagues,' says Angelika Zimmermann, senior lecturer in international business and strategy at Loughborough University.
What's more, the skills that you develop on a course of this nature are highly sought after by employers. This demand translates into varied opportunities in a range of settings and job sectors.
What do courses involve?
Studying for a Masters in international business is becoming increasingly popular and courses are available at a vast number of universities across the UK.
If you opt to study the one-year International Business MSc at the University of Nottingham, you'll complete six core modules including 'Business economics', 'International Business Environment', 'Essentials of International Marketing' and 'International Business Strategy'. You'll also be able to choose from a list of optional units including 'Globalisation, Business and Development' and 'Risk and Society'.
'The course is designed for graduates with no business background who want to transfer their skills into business. It focuses on all aspects of international business including international accounting, business economics, managing organisations, and the essentials of international marketing,' clarifies Dr Webb.
'It's unusual in offering the opportunity to spend the whole second semester completing core and optional modules at the university's business schools in China or Malaysia, while experiencing life in a different cultural and economic environment.'
You'll need a 2:1, and for 2020 entry, home and European Union (EU) tuition fees cost £12,465.
Meanwhile, at Loughborough University you'll learn about 'International Business Environments', 'International and Cross-Cultural Management', and 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship' in semester one. For semester two, you have the choice of studying for further core and optional modules or taking a study abroad placement.
'The MSc is designed to equip students with the essential knowledge and skills required for working effectively across different national contexts, in a range of business and management roles,' explains Angelika.
'Taught by world class scholars and informed by cutting-edge research, students develop sought-after intercultural skills and a global mind-set, and are prepared to work confidently and effectively with global partners.'
The programme is assessed through seminars, lectures, tutorials, workshops, group work and independent study and home and EU fees stand at £13,400 in 2019.
What jobs can I do with an international business degree?
'An international business degree opens up a variety of careers and students can also use their knowledge to internationalise their own business or family business,' says Angelika.
According to Dr Webb, international business courses graduates are well prepared for careers in consultancy, international finance, non-profit organisations and entrepreneurial ventures.
Possible job titles include:
- business adviser
- business analyst
- corporate investment banker
- human resources officer
- management consultant
- marketing executive
- product manager
- purchasing manager
To stand out to employers, Dr Webb has this advice. 'Take advantage of all the opportunities your institution offers, from careers services, to attending business events, volunteering as a student ambassador, and taking up opportunities for international experience.'
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