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Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

Course Description

The GDL (also referred to as a Common Professional Examination, or CPE) is an ideal stepping stone into either a full-time law career or advanced legal study at Masters level. If you do not have an LLB awarded by a university of England and Wales, by completing this course you can then undertake the Bar Professional Training course or the Legal Practice Course, depending on whether you aspire to qualify as a barrister or a solicitor.

Upon completion, you are eligible to undertake the Bar Professional Training Course if you want to qualify as a barrister, or the Legal Practice Course if you want to qualify as a solicitor. If you do not intend to qualify as a solicitor or barrister, the GDL/CPE can also be a stepping stone into more advanced legal study at Master's level.

We have an established record of providing the GDL and have excellent links with Birmingham Law Society and professional practice in the area. We also have a successful LPC course, which our GDL students can progress to. Our innovative approach to legal education is demonstrated by our very successful American legal placement scheme and our active Student Mooting Society.

GDL/CPE courses at all institutions necessarily have a degree of similarity in content and assessment. However, the GDL/CPE at Birmingham City University focuses on supporting you to develop relevant legal skills as well as knowledge content and at the same time offers you a unique opportunity to apply for our US internship scheme*. Those who participate in the scheme will have the opportunity to work on 'real' cases with 'real' clients, combining the academic with the practical and will be able to gain academic credit for it at the same time.

We have active student-led Legal and Mooting Societies. Our Student Mooting Society is one of the most successful in England. Our students have reached numerous finals and semi-finals in the past few years and have regularly beaten teams from some of the country’s most prestigious universities. In the past 10 years, we have beaten eight of the elite Russell Group of universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Leicester and Warwick.

As well as strategic partnerships with respected legal firms such as Irwin Mitchell and Squire Sanders, the School of Law also works closely with Birmingham Law Society and voluntary organisations in the legal sector such as local citizens advice bureaux and the Legal Ombudsman based in Birmingham city centre.

What's covered in the course?

With excellent links with Birmingham Law Society and professional practices in the area, this course provides you with the attributes and knowledge you’ll need to progress in the law field.

By choosing to study this course, you’ll be part of the School of Law, providing you with a wide range of activities and opportunities to gain valuable experience. Our Student Mooting Society is one of the most successful in the country – our students have regularly beaten some of the country’s most prestigious universities, including Cambridge.

You’ll also have the unique opportunity to undertake a US internship through our Centre for American Legal Studies, gaining practical experience in federal and public state defenders offices, private attorney offices and American university law schools.

You’ll be part of a friendly and inclusive learning environment, with regular access to friendly and supportive tutors, ensuring your individual study needs are met. You’ll be taught through face-to-face and online lectures, seminars, workshops, formative assessment and online multiple choice questions.

The course is accredited by the Joint Academic Stage Board, which represents the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board of England and Wales.

Visit the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) page on the Birmingham City University website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Julian B. Knowles

2463.jpg After completing the Common Professional Qualification (CPE) - now known as the Graduate Diploma in Law - in 1993, Julian B. Knowles has built a distinguished career as a barrister specialising in criminal law and human rights law.

Julian was inspired to pursue a legal career after becoming interested in law and human rights law during his undergraduate degree, seeing it as an opportunity to really make a difference. Making the move to London after graduation, he spent a year at the Inns Court School of Law and went on to spend time as a pupil barrister, before commencing practice in 1995.

Making his mark early, he won his first House of Lords case after being in practice for less than a year. No stranger to working on cases attracting global media attention, he went on to successfully defend General Pinochet and Siôn Jenkins, and he is also part of a team of counsel that has fought against the death penalty around the world.

In 2011 he was appointed as a QC, the youngest criminal practitioner in his year to be promoted.

"The CPE was a super-intensive course and so I did little other than study. It was just the beginning though, and I continue to learn something new every day."

"I have worked on cases which I hope have made a real difference to people. I have also met some amazing people - both clients and other barristers."

Julian Knowles, Queen's Counsel, Matrix Chambers


Entry Requirements

The GDL/CPE is primarily aimed at non-law graduates, so a good bachelor's degree is usually a minimum requirement.The bachelor's degree must be conferred by a University in the UK or Ireland (see below for overseas qualifications).We normally look for at least a good lower second class honours degree, although we will consider applications from those who fall below this.There are exceptions made to the requirement for a bachelor's degree for some legal executives and other mature applicants.

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