1.1 Opportunities provided by lectures

Lectures provide key opportunities for students to learn in an efficient way about the subject they have chosen to study. The lecture will typically convey and prioritise information about the subject in a relatively condensed format. It can also enthuse students and provide a suitable framework for further study. Students are exposed, most likely for the first time, to a professional scholar who may be a researcher at the forefront of that aspect of the discipline. Lectures provide a traditional link between research and teaching. They help to preserve a culture of learning in Higher Education in which undergraduate study is viewed as an induction into an academic discipline, a way of viewing the world.

There are also clear benefits to the lecturer. Assuming that an academic is lecturing on a similar topic each year, the up-front costs of preparing a set of lectures are offset by their re-usability. Also, the traditional lecture, being teacher centred, can minimise the stress for those academics that are hesitant to relinquish control of the learning process to students.

Lectures have additional benefits for the institution. They are seen as making an efficient use of the lecturer's time, since they allow teaching to take place in classes with a very high student/staff ratio. This has become an increasingly compelling incentive when pressures on institutions in terms of research output and accountability to students and other stakeholders have grown. A greater use of lectures, or of larger lectures, allows resources to be released to address these other issues – either by reducing lecturers’ timetables or by releasing time for more small-group work, personal tutorials or online tuition.