Well the second week of the new semester is almost over. My timetable looks very light, but it should not be underestimated. I have spent a large number of these supposed “free” hours in the library pouring over case law and statutory provisions in order to really get a sense of what is being said in lectures. Not only that, but the first of my weekly seminars takes place this week, resulting in even more reading to allow me to fully and effectively prepare for that. What little time I had left was mostly spent on eating and sleeping. I have found the odd spare hour here and there to hang out and as they say “chill”, but these have been few and far between and normally I’ve found myself being far too tired to really do anything!
It’s been four years since I last had a normal semester that has been unaffected by personal troubles and this resulted in me forgetting how much work is involved in the studying of Law (either that or I’m simply more studious than I’ve been previously). I remember there being endless reading and analysing statutes and cases, but not this much. It really has taken me by surprise. Contract and Delict have been slow to get started as they’re first year modules, but the pace is beginning to pick up. In Commercial we hit the ground running with several hours of reading after the first lecture.
Following the death earlier this year of the Law School’s normal Delict tutor, they were left without a lecturer for their Delict module. The solution to this has left a novel teaching approach, which to date I have found quite useful. Instead of lectures taking place in the traditional lecture theatre setting, they are being delivered by a lecturer from an entirely different University elsewhere in Scotland by way of downloadable podcast.
I can see many advantages (and some disadvantages) to such a method, but will be reserving my final judgement until the end of the semester once the course is complete and the exam results are out. One of the more immediate benefits I have found is that my lecture notes are far more detailed. Being able to pause, rewind and skip through parts of the lecture has meant that I have not found myself mid flow in taking notes down about something only to forget what I’m writing as I try to, at the same time, focus on what the lecturer continues to say. Instead, I have been able to pause and rewind the lecture to ensure that my notes are full and accurate. How much benefit this will have come exam time is yet to be seen. Will it improve my grades? Will it assist my study? Will I simply end up with too many notes and waste time cutting them down to allow me to study? Only time will tell the answers to these questions.
It hasn’t all gone smoothly with these podcast lectures. We were advised at our one and only traditional style lecture for Delict that the podcasts were available on the University’s online learning environment. However, not one person could find them: they had gone missing. They were eventually found and were available by the following day, which meant there was not too much of an issue. There are the odd downsides to the use of technology.
With the Delict lectures being by podcast it has created a real need to be organised. All the lectures for the entire module are complete and can be listened to at our leisure. It has resulted in placing the emphasis on students to ensure their own leisure is at a pace that ensures they are keeping up and are ready for the written assignment, seminars and ultimately the exam. With there being no physical timetabled lectures ensuring that you keep the correct pace for the module it will be particularly easy to fall behind. However, I only really see this being a problem for those who are disorganised (in which case it probably won’t only be the Delict lectures that they fall behind with) and those that wouldn’t normally turn up to lectures anyway.
In saying all of the above I do not want to come across as if I am bored or simply whinging! I’m really enjoying being back at it. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much that I nearly missed my stop on the train due to being so engrossed in the ruling of Sheriff Principal Risk QC in the case of Alexandra v Murphy.
I’ve decided that I’m going to really focus over the next three years. I’ve done the whole “student experience” and now it’s time to settle down and focus on why I’m here: to get a degree in Law and begin the path towards a legal career. Don’t get me wrong, I will take time away from the books to enjoy myself – I need it after a few pretty rough years. It has really hit home though that had I not had the run of bad luck with my health that I would have probably been starting my Diploma this time next year! However, I just have to remind myself that it was out of my control and that there is not one thing that I could have done about that!
I am looking forward to many more weeks of fun, tears and stress!