The University of Law

The University of Law

Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

Fast-track your legal career with our GDL law conversion course, your first step into law if you have already completed a non-law undergraduate degree.

Many employers favour GDL students in an increasingly competitive legal job market. Through studying another degree subject, you will have gained many transferable skills. By taking the conversion route into law, you are showing motivation and determination by choosing law at a later stage than some others. This looks good to employers.

If you are changing direction after starting in another career area, you will possess valuable work experience and professional awareness. Many employers actively seek candidates with these benefits.

Our network of contacts, a dedicated employability service and a reputation in the legal profession mean we also have an outstanding track-record of finding students legal employment.

Entry requirements

To be eligible to take up your place on our GDL, you must comply with the following requirements:

  • A UK undergraduate degree in any discipline (minimum 2:2), or an equivalent qualification.
  • Overseas graduates and mature non-graduates:

    • Future barristers – please apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (BSB)
    • Future solicitors – please send your qualifications through to the Admissions team who can deem whether you are eligible for the course 
  • A sufficient command of English is required to successfully complete the course. Please note that students providing a degree from a UK university as proof of English must have studied the whole degree in the UK.
  • If you have a legal qualification from outside England and Wales or have studied aspects of law as part of a non-qualifying degree course, you may be exempted from certain elements of the GDL. If this applies to you:

    • Future barristers - please apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (BSB)
    • Future solicitors - please e-mail a copy of your degree transcript, certificate and syllabus information through to the Admissions team who can deem whether you are eligible for certain exemptions on the GDL
    • If you are claiming full exemptions for the GDL you will need to apply for a Certificate of Exemption from the Bar Standards Board or Equivalent Means from the Solicitors Regulation Authority

Further information can be obtained from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) (for future solicitors) or Bar Standards Board (BSB) (for future barristers)

English language requirements

If you have completed a degree outside the UK and you do not come from a majority English speaking country:

A certified copy of any document that proves that you are qualified in English at CEFR level B2 or above in each of the four components of language learning.

Course modules

The practical application of the knowledge and skills learned in our lectures* and small group workshops, supported by our innovative online learning resources including recordings of live lectures, gives you the edge over other candidates in the competitive job market.

The course is divided into nine modules, made up of seven foundations subjects, a module at the start of the course providing insight into the profession and a choice of module enabling you to study an area of law that you would like to specialise in.

You'll start with our online pre-course study programme on legal method, designed specifically to prepare you for the GDL, so you're up to speed when you arrive.

Our online pre-course study programme in legal method is a compulsory and integral part of the GDL and must be completed before you start the course. It has been designed to allow you to work at your own pace and should take you approximately 50 hours to complete.

*for part-time and i-GDL students lectures will be made available as recordings

Ethics and Professional Legal Practice module

This unique module taken at the start of the course includes:

  • Insight into the different areas of the legal profession
  • Consideration of the role of legal ethics within the profession
  • Development of key legal skills and professional attributes required by lawyers

Foundation subjects

You’ll then study the seven key areas of law:

  • Contract law
    You’ll deal with how contracts are made, what happens when they work properly and the remedies available when they go wrong. You’ll look at contract issues which are relevant for both the consumer and business client. In practice, whether you are dealing with contracts in the corporate or commercial world you will be applying the basic principles of contract law that you cover on the course.

  • Criminal law
    You probably feel you already know something about criminal law. In fact, the detailed workings of crimes like corporate manslaughter are even more intricate and fascinating than you might have thought. On this course, you'll also grapple with ethical issues, such as whether taking another person's life can ever be justified or excused.

  • Equity and trusts
    On this module you'll deal with: the making of gifts, the creation of trusts, the role of trustees in both the family and the wider commercial context, and the remedies against trustees who commit a breach of trust.

  • European Union law
    In EC law, you'll assess the impact that British membership of the European Community has had on the English legal system.

  • Land law
    You'll study the law relating to the ownership of land, the creation of rights over land such as rights of way and the impact those rights have on the current and future owners of the land.

  • Public law
    This module looks at the relationship between Parliament, the Government and the courts, and between the state and individual citizens. You’ll explore the most important aspects of this relationship, including the principles on which the UK constitution is based.

  • Tort
    Tort simply means ‘civil wrong’ and on this course you will study the various ways in which individuals or businesses seek a remedy (often in the form of compensation) for harm which they have suffered or become liable for damage which they have caused.

Choose* between one of the following modules:

Research Project module

In this module you will plan, research and write an essay, tailored to reflect the area of law in which you intend to specialise. You will have time dedicated in your timetable to undertake this work and detailed guidance on both legal research and legal essay writing skills.

Law of Organisations module

This module is for students intending to practice as a solicitor in a corporate law practice and is offered as an alternative option to the Research Project module. In this module you will study the principles of contract and corporate law that underpin the creation and running of business organisations. The module will develop your legal research skills in this area resulting in the preparation of a legal report on an allocated problem based question. On the full-time course, this module will be taught through face-to-face workshops and on the part-time course this module will be studied online. 

*i-GDL students are required to take the Research Project module

Assessment methods

Regular informal assessments and written and oral feedback from tutors will help you monitor your progress in preparation for the final exams.

Your final result is based on:

  • Passing a 30-minute, multiple choice open book examination on legal method.
  • Seven, three-hour closed book examinations - one for each foundation subject.
  • Two pieces of coursework: one short essay on ethical considerations in the legal profession and a longer essay based on your own study and research on a legal subject of your choice or legal report on law of organisations problem question (depending on option taken).

Fees

Fees vary depending on study location; please contact the University of Law for more details.

Course fees are the same for the full-time and part-time GDL programme.

Qualifications

Qualification Study mode Fee status Fee Study period Duration
Graduate Diploma Full-time Home/EU Whole course 38 weeks
Graduate Diploma Part-time evening Home/EU Whole course 21 months
Graduate Diploma Part-time weekend Home/EU Whole course 21 months

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