Adjusting teaching at TJI’s LLM programmes in light of the COVID-19 crisis


What are we doing to support LLM students in this time of crisis?

At TJI we quickly and smoothly transitioned to online teaching once it became clear that the COVID-19 crisis would not currently permit us to continue normal face-to-face module delivery on our two LLM programmes in Gender, Conflict and Human Rights and Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice. Together with the Law School and other Ulster University bodies, TJI is striving to support our LLM students in these difficult times including:

  • Effectively using a variety of online tools to facilitate engaging lecturers and seminars
  • Inviting students to take part in relevant webinars, directing students to new podcast series and other online resources being made available in light of the crisis
  • Ensuring that dissertation students will have regular online contact with their supervisors
  • Advancing students’ access to library e-resources and individual guidance about how to access these resources
  • Offering individual support to students, including international students, facing difficulties in light of the crisis
  • Supporting access to IT facilities
  • Ensuring flexibility on coursework deadlines to accommodate students in the crisis situation
  • Offering some flexibility on payment schedules

Innovating in response to our new circumstances

The move to online delivery has allowed us some scope to innovate and add new content to our teaching. For example, the Gender and Transition module concluded with a showing of the documentary The Prosecutors about the prosecution of wartime sexual violence in Bosnia, Colombia and the DRC, followed by a facilitated discussion with the documentary’s Chicago-based Director Leslie Thomas.

Likewise, the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights module will now feature a dedicated webinar from diversely located staff from the development NGO Trócaire discussing their current campaign Women in their Place to defend women on the frontlines of the struggle to defend land and environment from exploitation by big business.

In addition, we have moved all of our TJI public seminars online, including the WPS@20 seminar series to reflect on twenty years of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at the UN Security Council. As online public seminars, we have been able to include a much larger and wider range of international attendees and we have made the seminars publicly available afterwards to download as podcasts.

Library support to students in the crisis situation

The library offers online access to 1000’s of legal textbooks and online access is also available for all the major legal databases, all accessible anywhere with wifi; TJI works closely with the library to ensure that LLM students benefit from such access in the crisis situation. In addition to regular library info sessions, LLM students can take advantage of personal online access meetings with library staff to learn more about existing and new resources and how to access them. During the Covid-19 crisis many publishers have offered temporary free access to their resources and the library has made arrangements for students to avail of these resources. You can read more about our library’s support here: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/library/electronic-resources/e-resources-covid-19-support.

What do our current students say?

Testimonies by our LLM students demonstrate that should we face a situation where online teaching continues to be necessary – or becomes necessary again sometime into the academic year – TJI will manage this in ways that satisfy students’ needs and expectations:

LLM student Zorg Madi about support given by TJI staff:

I’m very thankful for your efforts to make us feel safe and comfortable during this hard time.

LLM student Caterina Santi commenting on the transition to online teaching:

The online teaching is going very well, it is easy and handy to follow, more than I have expected!

LLM student, Daniela Castillo, who returned to her home country Colombia from where she continues to study for her LLM:

I have attended to my online classes, yesterday I had class at 3am Colombian hour […] a little hard but is fine! I am enjoying the online classes and I think professors are doing well also, even classmates are participating more than in face to face class.

LLM student, Marianna Espinos Blasco commenting on online teaching and seminars in our Gender & Transition module:

It has been challenging for all of us to suddenly change to online classes – with all the ‘corona chaos’ as background– but I am really happy in how it has been managed from TJI… Highlight the WPS seminars, it was a very good complement of the lessons -many thanks for making the podcasts as well […] I think that ending with the documentary and the chat with Leslie Thomas was ‘perfecto’. I felt very motivated to continue working and to keep going with the course assignments – has been a bit difficult to focus lately.

LLM student rep, Andrew Cadman commenting on TJI’s adjustment of coursework deadlines in light of the crisis:

A lot of people were asking me for advice regarding submission dates […] and it was hard for me to give advice without knowing how it would affect their progression. Having a final date to remain on the current pathway and the knowledge that attempting and failing still allows a resubmission for full marks is very helpful. The proposed system is more than generous and entirely fair.

What do TJI/ School of Law staff say?

Dr. Thomas Hansen, Course Director, LLM programmes at TJI:

The COVID-19 crisis has been a real challenge for us all, both students and staff; we are all effected by this crisis in different ways. It has been a privilege working with colleagues and students to come up with solid and timely solutions to multiple challenges that satisfy both the demands of academic integrity and flexibility and support to our students. We are proud of the team spirit that has made this possible.

Prof. Rory O’Connell, Research Director (Law):

It has been really inspiring to see how everyone in the University community, academic staff and administrative staff, PhD researchers and students, have worked together with a shared purpose to look after the interests of our students, to take account of the multiple and complex pressures and challenges we are all facing, to adjust rapidly and flexibly to our changed circumstances.

Prof. Eugene McNamee, Head of School (Law):

The TJI team has been a model of good practice for the rest of the Law School in how it has reacted to programme delivery in the current crisis.  The staff have been imaginative, innovative, hard-working and, as befits members of a Human Rights focused Institute, they have shown an over-riding concern with the experience of each individual student.  I have absolute confidence that whatever the circumstances they will continue to deliver world class specialist programmes.

Applicants to TJI’s LLM programmes can check the University’s up-to-date guidance for applicants here: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/coronavirus/applicants.

You can sign up for our newsletters at www.ulster.ac.uk/tji or follow us on twitter (@TJI_) or facebook. 

Thomas Hansen, the Course Director for TJI’s LLM programmes, is happy to update you on our plans for LLM teaching in the academic year 2020/21 and to answer any questions related to the programmes – get in touch by emailing t.hansen@ulster.ac.uk.


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