If you are a non-law graduate looking to enter the legal profession, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) provides your starting point for graduate legal study. It takes you through the academic stage required to become a barrister or solicitor, before you then go on to either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
The GDL satisfies the requirement of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), showing that you have successfully completed the academic stage of your legal training.
As the first stage of your legal learning, the GDL takes you through the basics of law in England and Wales and introduces you to legal reasoning, methods and research. As well as this, you will learn how to apply your legal knowledge to the real world, giving you practical insights and skills to take into your vocational training.
The GDL is taught by a dedicated team of solicitors and barristers, who have all practised for many years, and bring their experience to bear on the course with plenty of examples, practical advice and face-to-face support.
You will also have access to an impressive range of facilities in our Professional Law Centre as well as the chance to hear from expert legal speakers and take part in our placement scheme. Our aim is to provide as much realism as possible and to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to move confidently along the path towards becoming qualified.
The part-time course is structured into two teaching blocks (each of which is studied over a year) and covers the seven foundations of legal knowledge, as identified by the professional legal bodies. An independent research project then enables you to cover another area of legal study in depth.
English Legal System - provides you with a basic understanding of the legal system in England and Wales and covers the legal terminology, reasoning and methods that you will practise and develop throughout the course.
• Public Law - introduces you to the constitution of England and Wales and the theoretical principles that underlie it, as well as the judicial review process and how we use the law to protect human rights. • Obligations I (Contract Law) - takes you through the area of contract law and what is involved in forming and enforcing contracts. • Obligations II (Law of Tort) - introduces you to tortious liability, in other words how we can enforce obligations to avoid harm being caused to our neighbours. • Criminal Law - provides an introduction to criminal law, particularly the underlying policy issues and the difference between theory and practice.
• Equity and Trusts - introduces you to equity and trust law, including defining what a trust is and looking at the relevance of trusts today. • Property Law - explores land as an area of law, the rights and obligations associated with it, and how to transfer land from one party to another. • European Union Law - provides you with an understanding of what constitutes European Union law, how it works and how we take account of EU law within domestic law in England and Wales. • Independent Research Project - you will also study a research topic of your choice in depth (out of a range of subjects of current topical interest) and write a 4,000-5,000 word mini dissertation.
Highly experienced and supportive tutors, drawn from legal practice, as well as the academic side of law, will enable you to develop your knowledge quickly.
Each topic will be based on an introductory large group session and then a smaller group seminar. Both the large group session and seminars are highly interactive, and are designed to give you a deeper understanding of the material covered, and how it can be applied to practical contexts.
You will research and discuss real cases and legislation, based on current developments in law, giving you a valuable insight into situations you are likely to face in your legal career.
As is required by the professional regulatory bodies, the main form of assessment for the GDL is through examinations, which are held at the end of each year of the course. Some modules also include a coursework element of 25%.
The Independent Research Project will be assessed through your 4,000-5,000 word mini dissertation, which you will write in response to your allocated research task.
Practice questions with feedback will be given to help you monitor and improve your performance, and help you deal effectively with all forms of assessment. Two past examination papers will also be available in order to prepare you for examinations.
Careers / Further study
Studying for the GDL is a stepping stone in achieving a successful career as a solicitor or barrister. Many students who complete the GDL go on to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) to achieve these career ambitions.
- New Postgraduate Master's loans for 2016/17 academic year –
The government are introducing a master’s loan scheme, whereby master’s students under 60 can access a loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards the cost of their study. This is part of the government’s long-term commitment to enhance support for postgraduate study.
Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.