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Graduate Diploma in Law (Graduate Diploma)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

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You will need to apply for this course through one of our partners.


Conversion course

This is a conversion course. Conversion courses allow you to study a subject unrelated to your undergraduate degree or current career, and support you with a change of career path.


Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

If you have graduated in a subject other than law and would like to switch to a legal career, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is for you.


Take your first step towards practising law

Study the core academic modules of a law degree in one year.


The best qualities of a traditional legal education

Strike a balance between learning essential legal principles and developing the reasoning and analytical skills of lawyers.


A course structure that lets you organise your study time

Contact time is on Thursdays and Fridays (with the exception of the first two weeks of term). Tutorials are in-person and all lectures are recorded.


Complement your academic studies

The School of Law and Politics offer a range of pioneering pro bono projects on which you can work on real projects and cases, supported and supervised by professionals.

If you are thinking of qualifying as a lawyer in England and Wales, this course enables you to,

- study the structure and doctrines of the legal system in England and Wales and

- the seven core (foundation) subjects of a law degree: contract law, criminal law, equity & trusts law, EU law, land law, public law and tort law.

The GDL allows you to study these intensively over one year, instead of the three years usually required for a Law degree.

If you are thinking of qualifying as a barrister, the GDL gives you the academic modules you will need to pass before progressing to a Bar Training Course (BTC).  We also offer a BTC course. 

If you are thinking of qualifying as a solicitor, the GDL gives you the academic knowledge of legal principles and their application you will need as part of your preparation for the new centrally assessed Solicitors Qualifying Examination (“SQE”), introduced from September 2021. 

Please see the ‘Career Prospects’ section of this entry for further information on the options available to you following completion of the GDL.

I really enjoyed the structured approach to learning. The course is well-designed so you build up your knowledge in each area of law week-by-week, with weekly seminars to cement the learning.
Crash Wigley Graduate Diploma in Law, 2020

Where you'll study

School of Law and Politics

Our vibrant student body combined with highly qualified academic staff provides the perfect environment to explore the dynamic and fast-paced fields of law, politics and international relations.

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Admissions criteria

This is a conversion course. Conversion courses allow you to study a subject unrelated to your undergraduate degree or current career, and support you with a change of career path. No prior knowledge or degree in the subject is required.

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements and the Transitional Arrangements set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and submit an application via the Central Applications Board (CAB).

With your application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 UK honours degree in any subject, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in all other subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.
  3. Evidence that you have applied for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (if you are planning on qualifying as a barrister) if you are classed as an Overseas student or are applying with non-standard qualifications.
  4. A personal statement which outlines your commitment to the legal profession, general work experience (if any), and reasons for wanting to study the GDL at Cardiff University.
  5. At least one academic reference which outlines your suitability for the programme.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications to the CAB open on 1 October and close on 31 July in each application cycle, however, we operate our own deadline of 30 April. If you submit an application to the CAB after 30 April, we will only consider it if places are still available.

Please note that the CAB will only release applications to us once a fully completed application form has been submitted, along with all supporting evidence including references (where required by the CAB), and if the application fee has been paid.

Selection process

We will review your application and make a decision based on all of the following factors:

  • if you have met the entry requirements and provided available evidence to support your application (e.g. academic record, references, personal statement)
  • your degree of commitment to the legal profession (shown, by example, by placements with solicitors’ firms or equivalent experience)
  • general work experience
  • reasons for wanting to study the LPC at Cardiff University
  • date on which the application is received by Cardiff University
  • order of preference of institution
  • any extenuating circumstances which may affect your ability to study elsewhere.

Find out more about English language requirements.

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

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

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 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Module titleModule codeCredits
English and Welsh Legal SystemCL90001 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.

Learning and assessment

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 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.   

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.


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.

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 pro-bono schemes run with lawyers and partner organisations, in which student volunteers assist real people in their dealings with the law.         
  • Other activities within the School include mooting, negotiating and client interviewing competitions.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £11,200 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £22,700 £1,000

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

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

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.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Career prospects

Qualification as a barrister

Our GDL includes the core subjects you need to progress to a Bar Training Course (BTC) which we also offer. More information on qualifying as a barrister can be found on the Bar Standards Board website.

Qualification as a solicitor

The Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA), the body which regulates the profession, has changed the recognised route to qualification.

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) was introduced in September 2021. Since then it is no longer essential for students to hold a law degree or GDL to become a solicitor.  However, the foundational modules studied on the GDL will cover subjects which are examined as part of the SQE.  The GDL offers the benefits of a fully rounded legal education and a qualification that is well respected and valued within the legal profession.

To qualify when you have completed your GDL, you’ll need to take a preparation course aimed at GDL and law graduates, covering the professional and practice elements of legal knowledge and preparing for the SQE.  Some courses are already available from providers, and more are under development. We aim to introduce an SQE preparation course in September 2025.  Further information on qualifying can be found on the Solictors Regulation Authority website.

The School has strong connections with local firms and Chambers and there were regular events to help students network and explore future career options. My tutors were all friendly and approachable and they provided a lot of constructive feedback on my CV and applications, as well as helping me prepare for interviews. This was really valuable in an otherwise daunting cycle of interviews and applications. As many of the tutors had professional experience their advice was always practical and down-to-earth.
Crash Wigley Graduate Diploma in Law, 2020

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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.