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Hicham El Kaissi

Hicham El Kaissi chose to study MSc Economics at the University of Reading, and enjoyed the full postgraduate experience: a vibrant community, comprehensive training and learning from experts.

Working in the Computational Unit in the Research Department at the Central Bank of Morocco, Hicham was eager to take his knowledge of maths and economics further with a master’s degree in order to understand the functioning of the Moroccan economy better. It did not take him long to realise Economics at Reading was the place for him. 

"The course offers compulsory modules in advanced microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics and a wide range of optional modules to suit your interests. You can also opt for an optional Capstone Project module which is a great opportunity to do a project placement with an external organisation." 

Research-led teaching in the Department was also another drawing factor for Hicham. 

"I did some research on the teaching faculty at Reading and I really liked their diverse areas of research and how it fed into their teaching. I found the Department to be a perfect match for my studies."

Interactive teaching and learning

Economics as a subject has always been perceived to be highly theoretical. Hicham found it very unusual when he realised Economics at Reading is tangible and engaging. 

"Studying Advanced Macroeconomics, we would spend time working in the computer lab which is like our laboratory of economics. We looked at Dynamic-Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) models carrying out experiments to understand the impact of changes to values of key economic variables. We were trained to work with software widely used by economists and the DSGE models we looked at are employed both in academia and by monetary authorities like the IMF and the World Bank." 

You don’t just get to learn the concepts but also learn how to apply them. 

“I really enjoyed the interactive games we played as part of our Behavioural Economics studies. We would look at our behaviour under different circumstances and then try to explain it based on the theory learnt during seminar sessions." 

The course also allows you to learn through various methods of assessments. 

"In many of the modules you are assessed through individual or group projects instead of exams. For example, I carried out an individual comparative study in Microeconometrics, to understand how exchange rates fluctuate between England and the United States. However my assessment in Macroeconomics III was a group project that looked at the effect of exogenous technology shock on economic variables like GDP, Employment and interest rates. Not only did this project enhance my knowledge, I was also able to build my team management skills as we divided the project work based on the individual strengths of the group members such as writing, programming and mathematics."

Getting involved

Life on campus offers you many opportunities to socialise a well as for your personal development. A top tip from Hicham is to be active and engage in as many activities as possible. 

"I recommend joining societies or sports activities of your interest. Not only will you learn something new but will also make friends easily. I have been involved in kickboxing and archery and I am planning to join Latino dancing and swimming next year. 

The course also gives you a chance to move out of your comfort zone. 

"We use mathematics and programming languages during the course so I joined the programming languages society to level up a little bit on my skills." 

Hicham also suggests getting involved with the Life Tools programme offered by the University. 

"This programme is designed to help you take control of your learning and development. For example we discussed how to handle stress, sleeping habits, networking and budget management. There are also seminars hosted by Henley Business School that contribute to your ongoing professional development. For example they invite professionals in the fields of finance and banking and we also had consultants from China."

Incredible support

Hicham recognises the support and guidance in place for economics students which will help to set them apart from other graduates. 

"There are many help centres in place to support you where you are struggling. For example you can get extra help with writing, mathematics and statistics. The academics are always happy to help you. All you need to do is drop them a line with a query and most of the times you get an instant reply. If you are working on independent research, you can ask library advisors for help. I also recommend making an initiative with professors and speaking to them as they are research specialists in their areas."

The next steps

Still in his second year of study, Hicham already feels his journey with economics and with Reading has not quite finished yet. 

"I plan to stay back in the Department to pursue my PhD studies in International Finance. Morocco has recently moved from a pegged to a floating exchange rate system, I would like to study the impact of this change on the Moroccan economy. I also don’t want to leave the beautiful campus so soon and want to engage more with activities on campus."

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Abirah Aziz: gaining a deeper understanding

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