Graduate Diploma in Law (Graduate Diploma)
- Duration: 1 year
- Mode: Full time
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.
If you are thinking of qualifying as a lawyer in England and Wales, our Graduate Diploma in Law 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.
You’ll 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’ll need to pass before progressing to a Bar Training Course (BTC) which can also be studied at the School of Law and Politics.
If you are thinking of qualifying as a solicitor, the GDL may allow you to progress to the current professional stage of legal training, the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Alternatively, the GDL gives you the academic knowledge of black-letter law you’ll need as part of your preparation for the new centrally assessed Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which is due to be introduced from September 2021. Before undertaking the SQE, you’ll also need to have studied the professional aspects of practice currently taught through Legal Practice Courses (LPCs) but 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 is currently developing SQE preparation courses to succeed its current LPC course following the introduction of the new regime.
Where you'll study
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.
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.
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.
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
- freedom of movement
- contact with people related to Cardiff University.
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 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.
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 2021 entry
Students from the UK
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course.
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees for 2021/22 will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.
Students from the rest of the world (international)
More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.
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.
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.
We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.
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.
*subject to validation