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Guidance on recording of teaching, 2023-24 

This guidance is provided to students and staff to outline the University’s position on the recording of teaching sessions or events.  It should be read in conjunction with the Policy on the Recording of Teaching Materials/Lectures

The University has a strong commitment to in-person teaching.  In-person teaching: 

  • provides students with opportunities to engage with staff and with their peers, building a community within the subject and supporting students’ sense of belonging;

  • helps to develop support mechanisms and social networks;

  • offers opportunities for ad hoc or informal learning experiences outside of formal teaching structures; and

  • gives structure and rhythm to the learning experience.

The University expects that teaching events will be offered in person, save where there is pedagogical benefit to delivery via an alternative method.  Students are expected to attend and participate in in-person sessions wherever possible. 

Recording these in-person sessions can often support students’ learning, by providing opportunity to review or consolidate material.  Lecture recordings are highly valued by students as a part of their educational experience, and they can contribute to high-quality inclusive teaching (see also the University’s Code of Practice: Access and Inclusion for Disabled Students).  However, not all teaching events will be suitable for recording, particularly those with highly-interactive or sensitive content. 

The guidance pertains to lectures, and it is not standard practice to record other teaching, but if there is agreement between staff and students in a setting other than a lecture, and if suitable infrastructure is available in the teaching space, then teaching staff should not be discouraged from recording if they wish to do so.   

The decision whether or not to record a teaching event will rest with the individual lecturer(s), in consideration of the designed teaching experience and intended educational benefit.  The needs of disabled students requiring reasonable adjustments must still be met; for more information, see Students with reasonable adjustments, below.  The needs of students and any Faculty, Department, or course expectations about recordings must also be taken into consideration. 

Why record?

Recordings provide all students with opportunity to pause, rewind, or revisit content.  This can help consolidate learning from in-person sessions and enable them to work in a way that suits their preferred style of learning.  It can also support them in revising or preparing for assessment. 

In addition:  

  1. Recordings are particularly effective in supporting individualised needs at scale for disabled students.  Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre (ADRC) data shows that more than 40% of Cambridge students registered with them had not disclosed a disability prior to matriculation; this may be because the student had not yet received a diagnosis, for privacy concerns or fear of stigma, or where the student finds after starting study that previous adaptive strategies for managing their disadvantage are inadequate.  Providing recordings of in-person teaching can therefore support a significant cohort of undiagnosed students. 
  2. Recordings can help to support students who are traditionally disadvantaged; those who may require additional transitional support to study, have caring or employment commitments, those with barriers of cost or travel to access their education, and those with English as a second language.  Staff are encouraged to review the Kirsty Wayland Memorial Disability Lecture1, which outlines the evidence for this in more detail.   

Students at Cambridge report that they prefer in-person teaching but value the flexibility that recordings offer, particularly where they may be prevented from attending due to ill health, timetable clashes, or other short-term life events.  Students also report that having a recording to fall back on can help them feel more on top of their studying and in control of their learning, thus reducing anxiety. 

Recordings should act as a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, the in-person lecture experience.  To that end they should not normally be re-used for a separate cohort or for other purposes.  The University will only use recordings in line with its Policy on the Recording of Teaching Materials/Lectures


1 A pre-print of the research presented at this lecture has been released and can be accessed here:; the authors have also provided a useful summary of their research in this WonkHE blog:

Why not record?

As noted above, not all sessions are suitable for recording.  The following list, while not exhaustive, gives some reasons why a lecturer may choose not to record a teaching event:  

  1. Where a recording does not provide educational benefit for students.  Examples of this may be practical or lab-based sessions, or those with a high degree of interactivity.  In these types of events, the educational benefit is derived from participation; there would be little to no benefit in a recording for consolidation or revision, and the benefit cannot be replicated through a substitutional recording. 
  2. Where a recording might alter or detract from the student experience.  Examples of this may be where recordings could stifle discussion or innovation, or where the lecturer feels that the teaching method would be altered by recording. 
  3. Where material is sensitive or controversial, or commercially sensitive, or there are ethical concerns about potential misuse.  Examples of this are where content may be subject to intellectual property restrictions, or may put staff, students, or third parties in a vulnerable position, or at risk of reprisals from authoritarian regimes.  
  4. Where facilities are not adequate for recording.  The University is committed to investing in infrastructure and services to support recording in a simple and streamlined fashion.  However, it recognises that provision is currently variable and may not always be appropriate for the needs of all staff.  

What is required?

Each taught course (undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and non-matriculated) must publish a statement before the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year which outlines the approach to teaching and learning on the course.  The University can support course teams in drafting these statements; contact    

This statement should be published in the student handbook, Moodle course, or course website, and should include clarity on how students can raise queries or concerns about the provision of resources.  In particular: 

  1. Disabled students in receipt of individual adjustments must be accommodated appropriately.  See Students with recommendations for reasonable adjustments, below, for more detail.  
  2. All students must clearly understand what is offered to them, how it should be used, and how to access it.  This means that students must be informed about what resources (including recordings but also handouts or other materials) will be available to them during their studies.  See also How to work with your students, below.  
  3. Any recordings which are made should align with University policy regarding consent and usage, as outlined in the Policy on the Recording of Teaching Materials/Lectures

Students with recommendations for reasonable adjustments

Recommendations made in Student Support Documents (SSD) are a means of ameliorating the disability-related disadvantage that disabled students would otherwise face. The University has an anticipatory duty to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made available.  Where a student has been given a recommendation for access to recordings in their SSD, recording is normally the most effective way of meeting this requirement. Alternative adjustments may be appropriate, but they can sometimes place an additional burden on staff or students to achieve the same ameliorating effect. 

If a student is recommended recordings in their SSD, the burden of making these recordings must not be imposed upon students. This is because: 

  • the disability may occasionally prevent students from being physically present to make a recording;

  • students making their own recording will be identifying themselves to peers as disabled;

  • students may not have suitable recording equipment; recognising that many everyday devices can record, there remains variation in storage or microphone quality and range;

  • most sessions will have more than a single disabled student, so centrally-managed recording is likely to be the most efficient option, where the technology is available.

Where a student has been given a recommendation for access to recordings and the teaching session will not be recorded, the student must be given clear guidance on what alternatives will be offered to offset the disadvantage of their disability.  Recognising that these alternatives may be implemented on a case-by-case basis, suggestions may usefully be included in the course statement on its approach to teaching and learning.    

Staff should consult with the Accessibility & Disability Resource Centre (ADRC) to discern the most appropriate and effective levels of support for the student.  However, staff should note that an SSD is an anticipatory document that should make clear the support necessary for each student. 

Working with your students

  • Talk to your students – it is important to engage them so that they understand what is, and is not, offered, and also why this is the case.  It sets the scene for your teaching and will help them to better engage with scholarly practice at university level. 

  • Consider how students understand the role of recordings and of in-person sessions – this will help in deciding the appropriateness of recording and in communicating that decision to students.