Graduate Diploma in Law (Graduate Diploma)

An intensive conversion course to law for non-law graduates. You will study the English and Welsh Legal System, Contract Law, Criminal Law, Equity & Trusts, EU Law, Land Law, Public Law and Tort. You will also research a topic and submit an extended essay on it at the end of your study.

An intensive conversion course to law for non-law graduates. You will study the English and Welsh Legal System, Contract Law, Criminal Law, Equity & Trusts, EU Law, Land Law, Public Law and Tort. You will also research a topic and submit an extended essay on it at the end of your study.

The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) offers intensive, graduate-level legal studies to students who already possess a degree in a non-law subject and wish to qualify as solicitors or barristers.

After successful completion of the GDL, you may progress to the current professional stage of legal training, either the Bar Professional Training Course or the Legal Practice Course, either of which may be studied at the School of Law and Politics.

To become fully qualified under the current system, completion of the BPTC or LPC will need to be followed by a period of work-based learning, either pupillage in a barristers’ chambers or a training contract with a solicitors’ firm. Alternatively, the GDL or one of the professional courses may be directly followed by legal work in some other capacity, with the option of seeking full qualification at a later date.

Please note that the route to qualification both as a solicitor and as a barrister will be changing in the near future. For further information please refer to the websites of the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board.

Distinctive features

The GDL is a very intensive course, but our model lets you combine your studies with other commitments. Apart from the first two weeks, you will only need to attend the School on Thursdays and Fridays. The remainder of your time will be used for independent study, including listening to lectures, reading and preparing for tutorials.

All our tutorials are on site where you will have access to learning and pastoral support from your tutors. Most lectures are delivered electronically, so you can listen when most convenient for you but you will also have ample opportunities to see and speak to your tutors – this is not a distance learning course.

You will also benefit from pro bono opportunities, excellent career prospects and a full programme of talks and sessions to help you plan the next stage of your legal career.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration1 year
QualificationGraduate Diploma
ModeFull-time
AccreditationsSolicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
Bar Standards Board
Contact

Admissions criteria

Applications for this course must be made via the Central Applications Board (“CAB”) website.

The usual academic requirement is an Honours Degree from a UK University in a non-law subject, Class 2.2 or above. Applicants from overseas or with non-standard qualifications must apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (if you are planning on qualifying as a barrister).

Applicants must meet the Academic Requirements set out above and Cardiff University’s general entrance requirements. Subject to those, the following criteria will be taken into account:

  • academic record
  • the applicant’s personal statement
  • reference from the applicant’s referee
  • degree of commitment to the legal profession (shown, for example, by placements with solicitors’ firms or mini pupillages or equivalent experience)
  • general work experience
  • reasons for wanting to study the GDL at Cardiff
  • date on which the application is received by Cardiff University
  • order of preference of institution and
  • any special personal reasons affecting freedom to study elsewhere.

Applicants whose first language is not English or Welsh must achieve an academic IELTS with an overall score of 6.5, which has been taken within two years of the start date of the programme, with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and subscores of no less than 6.0 in reading, speaking and listening. All scores must have been achieved in one sitting of the test.

Application deadlines 2019/20 entry

We strongly recommend that you apply as soon as possible. Subject to the availability of places at the date your application is received by us, applications received by 30th April will be guaranteed equal consideration. It is strongly recommended that you ensure that your application is received by Cardiff University by this date to ensure consideration for 2019/20 entry.

Applications received after the 30th April may be considered for entry if places are still available. Where there are a limited number of places available, differential entry requirements may be applied to applications received after 30th April based on the number and the quality of the applications received.

Please note that applications are only received by Cardiff University when they have been released to us by the CAB. The CAB will only release applications to us once the application form has been submitted, a reference received by the CAB and the application fee paid.  It is therefore strongly recommended that all these things are completed well in advance of 30th April to ensure consideration for 2019/20 entry. In particular, please contact your referee to ensure both their willingness and availability to provide a reference in good time.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

In term one you will study modules in Contract, Crime and EU Law and also Equity and Trusts Law. In term two you will continue with Contract and will also be studying Land Law, Public Law and Tort. In term two you will also be working independently on an extended essay set in a legal area outside these modules.

Most GDL teaching takes place on two days per week. However, you will also be required to study and pass a short test on the basics of the English and Welsh Legal System (EWLS) within a few weeks of starting any GDL course. 

To help prepare for this, you will be asked to carry out some directed reading before enrolment. Following enrolment there will be intensive teaching sessions designed to ensure that all students, whatever your previous discipline, are able to tackle the EWLS test with confidence. To allow for these and for introductory sessions, you will be required to attend lessons for most of the first two weeks of the course.

During your two contact days you will attend tutorials. During the remainder of the week you will be reading, listening to lectures (these are recorded electronically so that you can listen to them when most convenient) and preparing for tutorials.

All modules within this programme are compulsory. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Module titleModule codeCredits
English and Welsh Legal SystemCL90000 credits
Extended EssayCL910010 credits
Criminal LawCL920020 credits
Equity and TrustsCL920120 credits
EU LawCL920220 credits
Land LawCL920320 credits
Public LawCL920420 credits
TortCL920520 credits
ContractCL930030 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

The two contact days each week will usually include two or three tutorial-type sessions each typically lasting two hours. A range of teaching methods will be used in tutorials, including teamwork based exercises. 

Your preparatory work will involve extensive reading, listening to lectures, carrying out legal research and grappling with problems and essay questions or other preparatory exercises. For example, you might be asked to research different points, summarise cases or journal articles on behalf of a whole tutorial group. Although a minority of lectures will be delivered live in a lecture theatre, all will be recorded and made available on the University’s virtual learning environment for students to access off-campus at a convenient time.

How will I be supported?

All modules within the programme make extensive use of Learning Central, on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and multiple-choice tests. Hard copies of key teaching materials will also be provided. You will be allocated a personal tutor who will not only assist with reflection on performance on the course but will also help with CVs and job applications, in conjunction with a specialist Careers Advisor. A programme of careers lectures and workshops is delivered within the School. Reasonable adjustments will be made as appropriate for students with disabilities.

Feedback:

You will be given at least one marked formative exercise (for example a class test or essay) upon which you will receive individual written feedback, for each module studied. You will also be able to test your own knowledge and understanding through online tests accompanying learning materials. Oral communication skills will be tested by and feedback given on informal presentations in tutorials. You will be given feedback during tutorials on your preparation plus general feedback afterwards.

How will I be assessed?

Closed book (un-annotated statutes only) examinations on each of the seven foundation modules and the English and Welsh Legal System test will assess your knowledge and application of legal principles, your ability to critically evaluate and your awareness of contextual issues. You will sit The English and Welsh Legal System test during the first few weeks of the course. The remaining modules will be assessed in either January or June.

Summative assessment of these outcomes and of the ability to learn independently and transfer skills from one area to another will also be achieved through the extended essay.   

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will develop your ability to undertake independent learning and also your team-working skills. Communication skills are developed in tutorials, where pre-allocated tasks can include individual contributions to group study, for example by summarising a particular judgment or article for the group. Legal studies in general develop the ability to organise facts and ideas in a systematic way, identifying relevant principles and evaluating these in order to formulate advice for a client or a legal argument as appropriate. Writing legal essays not only develops communication skills but also the ability to argue in an objective, reasoned, professional manner, with due regard to authority and acceptable citation methods.

Outside the curriculum you will have the opportunity  to develop wider “employability” skills through participation in the School’s Law in Action pro-bono schemes run with partner organisations, in which student volunteers assist real people in their dealings with the law. Some examples of the schemes currently available to students include: 

  • Law in Justice: the Innocence Project, (dealing with alleged miscarriages of justice);
  • Law in Healthcare: the NHS Continuing Healthcare Scheme, (helping families claim back care home fees that arguably should have been covered by the NHS);
  • Law in Court: the Personal Support Unit (PSU) (offering practical support and assistance to people at court, in family and civil matters);
  • Law in Mental Health: the Hafal Appropriate Adult Scheme  (students are trained to support vulnerable adults being interviewed after having been arrested); and
  • Law in Sport: the Rugby Union Project  (providing legal advice and legal newsletters to rugby clubs).

Other activities within the School include mooting, negotiating and client interviewing competitions.

Completion of the GDL allows you to progress to the current professional stage of legal training, either the Bar Professional Training Course or the Legal Practice Course, either of which may be studied at the School of Law and Politics.

To become fully qualified under the current system, completion of the BPTC or LPC then needs to be followed by a period of work-based learning, either pupillage in a barristers’ chambers or a training contract with a solicitors’ firm. Alternatively, the GDL or one of the professional courses may be directly followed by legal work in some other capacity, with the option of seeking full qualification at a later date.

Please note that the route to qualification both as a solicitor and as a barrister will be changing in the near future. For further information please refer to the websites of the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£8,950None

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2019/20 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£17,350None

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2019/20 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Additional costs

You will need to buy one textbook before the start of the course, in order to undertake some pre-reading.  All other textbooks are supplied on the course.