Delivery mode of the Juris Doctor in 2023
See announcement on JD Canvas Community for full details.
The overarching concern of Melbourne Law School (MLS) is to provide students with the best quality legal education and the most favourable teaching and learning experience overall. Following an extensive process of consultation and discussion over several years about the desirability of making class recordings available without limitation, it was decided that MLS would not move to a system of unrestricted access to class recordings in the JD program. MLS does, however, acknowledge the challenges that this may cause for some students whose circumstances mean that they may miss classes. In order to address that concern, arrangements are in place to allow students access to class recordings for special consideration reasons (see below).
The reasons for the decision not to make class recordings available generally to all enrolled students in a class are outlined below.
First, staff with experience of teaching in other law schools where recording of classes is routine, and who remember teaching into the LLB at MLS when classes were routinely recorded, have noted that it tends to lead to a reduction in the numbers attending a class – sometimes to a very substantial reduction. Some students have responded to this by saying that this should not be considered a problem – those who want to come will attend and those who do not should be free to listen by recording if they prefer to. However, the JD has been established as a degree which relies on a learning community in the classroom. MLS has kept class sizes limited on the basis that students should get to know one another and learn from one another as well as from their teacher. The cohort experience of the JD is important. A reduction in class attendance changes the type of learning community that MLS is trying to create.
Second, the JD is not taught through a traditional lecture and tutorial format. The JD uses seminar style teaching based on discussion and, where appropriate, small group work in class. This form of teaching is not conducive to being recorded. The experience of some faculty who have taught in environments in which recording is used as a matter of course is that there is pressure on teachers to teach in a manner which is suitable for recording – more lecturing from the teacher and less class participation in particular. Classes at a graduate level should be participatory and engaged in a way that makes recording of limited utility. Notably, class sizes are constrained deliberately in order to facilitate class discussion.
Third, there is a concern by some teachers and students that making recordings available in an unrestricted manner would inhibit both students and teachers from engaging as freely in intellectual exchange as they might in an environment where recording was not widely available. This might be particularly so where practitioners come in as guest teachers. Students who might be nervous about putting their views to a class might be even more reluctant to do so if they know that their comments (including possible mistakes) might be heard by a much wider group. Teachers who brought elements of their experience in practice or knowledge from their wider networks into the classroom were not always comfortable doing so if the information that they shared might be available to a wider audience.
Finally, feedback from employers, including the legal profession, is supportive of the current policy. A number have noted their concerns that where law students ‘dial in’ their legal education rather than participating fully in class, they did not have the same opportunity to build their oral and inter-personal skills as did those who had the challenge of participating in classes held face to face.
MLS recognises that for some students their medical or other recognised circumstances significantly impact upon their class attendance. Students in two categories may be eligible to access class recordings:
- Students who are registered for ongoing support; or
- Students who are not registered for ongoing support, but who miss a substantial number of classes due to:
- Medical grounds
- Personal circumstances (eg bereavement, illness of a family member, family violence, temporary carer responsibilities)
- Religious commitments (as defined below)
- Any combination of the above
Students with access to class recordings are prohibited from sharing these recordings with others. If a student shares the recorded material without the permission of MLS, they may no longer be eligible to receive class recordings.
How to apply
Students who are registered for ongoing support
Student should be aware that registration for ongoing support does not necessarily grant the student access to class recordings. Students are issued with an Academic Adjustment Plan (AAP) which may or may not recommend access to class recordings as an appropriate reasonable adjustment based on the student’s circumstances. Circumstances where class recordings may be made available to students who are registered for ongoing support include cases where:
- Their capacity to attend classes will routinely be disrupted through medical conditions, carer, religious or other commitments for which they are registered, and/or
- Medical conditions, carer, religious or other commitments for which they are registered impair their capacity to cognitively participate in classes, ie significant concentration impairments.
To be considered for access to class recordings, such students must apply online, and provide evidence to support their application, usually their AAP. Please note that students need to re-apply for access to class recordings each semester, with a current AAP. Applications lodged by the end of Week 4 of semester will be granted access to class recordings for all prior, and subsequent, weeks of that semester; applications received after this date will receive access to class recordings for the week in which the application was received and for subsequent weeks of the semester.
Students who are not registered for ongoing support
Students who are not registered for ongoing support will be provided access to class recordings in limited circumstances. Class recordings will be made available to students who can demonstrate that medical grounds or personal circumstances (eg bereavement, illness of a family member, family violence, temporary carer responsibilities) or religious commitments will cause them to miss class for five (5) or more consecutive days.
To be considered for access to class recordings, students must apply online. Your application should include the following information:
- Reason for class recordings eg, hospitalisation, bereavement, exacerbation of circumstances (only considered for unexpected/ongoing circumstances that meet special consideration eligibility)
- Supporting documentation indicating the duration of impact
- Your application should list which week's recording you require.
Accepted forms of supporting documentation
Medical conditions – eg sudden illness of short duration (excluding minor ailments)
Evidence must be completed by an authorised medical practitioner. A Health Professional Report (HPR) form (PDF 162 KB) is the preferred form of evidence, medical certificates and/or a statement from a doctor or counsellor are also acceptable.
If due to COVID-19, you are unable to source a medical certificate, health professional report, or statutory declaration to support your application, you can use a screenshot of your PCR test result, or a photo of your RAT alongside your ID and a note of the date.
Reasons for which your request will be denied:
- Intention to study whole subject via class recordings without attending class
- Clash with internships, clerkships or employment
- To use class recordings as revision before end-of-semester exam. This includes class recordings applications submitted after the teaching period requesting past weeks' recordings.
One stream of most compulsory subjects will be recorded. Students receiving recordings should be aware that they may not receive a recording from their timetabled stream. There are some compulsory subjects, such as Legal Research, where for pedagogical reasons it is not appropriate to record.
Class recordings for elective subjects will be available (from Semester 2, 2023) where the subject is taught in a similar manner to core JD subjects, noting that this may exclude particular classes where there may be a guest speaker or where there are other pedagogical reasons for not recording. This shall be at the discretion of MLS. Classes for subjects that involve guest speakers on a regular basis, or that involve practical, clinic or internship requirements (where students may discuss cases they are working on) will not be recorded. Students that may require recordings in order to complete an elective subject should contact the Law Wellbeing team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ascertain whether or not recordings will be available for most classes in the subject.
Intensive subjects taught over a one or two week period will not be recorded. Where students enrol in an intensive subject offered alternatively on a full semester basis, and for which there are available recordings from the most recent semester of offer of that subject, they may be given access to these recordings. Students considering enrolment in an intensive subject who may experience difficulties in attending class should discuss their enrolment in the subject with the Academic Programs Coordinator (Wellbeing) prior to enrolling to determine the best course of action in the circumstances.
Limitations of class recordings
Class recordings are not a substitute for attending class. Class recordings provide students with the opportunity to catch up on the occasional missed class, or, for students granted access to class recordings as part of their registration for ongoing support, to go back to a recording of a class they in fact attended. Teachers are not required to replicate other classroom learning aids (such as use of a whiteboard) separate to the class recording. MLS will remind teachers to use a microphone in the classroom when their class is recorded, and where practicable and appropriate, to repeat a question asked by a student in the class. However, MLS cannot guarantee that all class discussion will be captured on a class recording.
All applications made by students for class recordings are treated confidentially.
Applications are not disclosed to the subject teacher, the coordinator, or other students in the subject.