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Graduate Diploma in Law (Graduate Diploma)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Make an application

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


Conversion course

This is a conversion course. No prior knowledge or specific degree is required but you need to demonstrate interest and understanding of the subject.


Open day

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

Why study this course

A conversion course to Law for graduates from other disciplines.


Study around your commitments

Although the GDL is an intensive course, apart from the first two weeks, teaching contact time only takes place on Thursdays and Fridays.


Benefit from varied delivery

Listen to lectures electronically at any time. Tutorials are delivered face to face with learning and pastoral support provided by tutors.


Professionally-qualified tutors

All GDL tutors have practised either as solicitors or barristers and bring their professional experience to the classroom.


Complement your academic studies

We offer a range of pioneering pro-bono projects where you can work on real cases under supervision from 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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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 6102
  • MarkerMuseum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

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.

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

The usual academic requirement in 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). 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 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 ability to study elsewhere.

English Language Requirements: IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing and no less than 6.0 in all other subscores, or an acceptable equivalent.

Application deadlines

Applications open on October 1st in each application cycle. The earlier you apply the greater your chance of receiving an offer (subject to meeting entry requirements). Although applications to the CAB close on 31 July each year, Cardiff University operates an initial deadline of 30 April due to competition for places. It is strongly recommended that your application is received by Cardiff University in advance of this date. Offers will be made on a first come, first served basis and the programme will close to applications when the course is full or on 30 April, whichever comes first.

Applications received after 30 April will be considered for entry if places are still available. 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 (where required by the CAB), and the application fee paid. 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 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 2022/23 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2022.

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.

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 2022 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 £10,950 £500

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2022/23 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 £19,450 £500

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.

Career prospects

Completion of the GDL allows you to progress to the current professional stage of legal training, either the Bar Training Course (BTC)* 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 BTC 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.

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), will be introduced in September 2021. Before undertaking the SQE, you will also need to have studied the professional aspects of practice previously taught through Legal Practice Courses (LPCs). However, once the new centralised assessment regime is in place, LPC courses will be replaced by a range of courses aimed at preparing students for the SQE. Cardiff University is currently developing SQE preparation courses to succeed its current LPC course following the introduction of the new regime.

*subject to validation

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


UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2022 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

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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 2018/19, published by HESA in June 2021.