The GDL, otherwise known as the Law Conversion Course, is a postgraduate law conversion course for non-law graduates who want to pursue a legal career.
Also known as the Common Professional Examination or CPE, the Graduate Diploma in Law is a year-long intensive course for students who have graduated with a non-law degree subject. For GDL students, the aim is to qualify as a solicitor or barrister.
The GDL is the stepping stone from a non-law degree to either the:
Those wishing to enter either of the above professions must complete the GDL law conversion course if they haven’t completed a qualifying LLB law degree.
The structure of the law conversion course varies from provider to provider, but generally, the course is formed by a combination of lectures and tutorials.
GDL students generally have 14 contact hours per week on full-time UK GDL courses, with significantly fewer hours on part-time courses.
In addition to the allocated contact hours, as a GDL student, you will be expected to spend 2-3 hours preparing for each of your law tutorials. Preparing thoroughly gives you the best chance of success and gaining a coveted GDL distinction.
BPP student and contributor Izzy, in our GDL Case Study for BPP, writes about the structure of the course on her blog post.
For daily tips and tricks on how to succeed with your law conversion course, join our Non-Law Students Facebook Help Group!
The Graduate Diploma in Law / Common Professional Examination condenses an LLB law degree down into a one-year full-time course or a two-year part-time course.
The topics of study are the same as the LLB subjects studied during a traditional undergraduate course:
The Central Applications Board requires you to submit:
The GDL law course application form requires the following information:
The CAB release applications to the various institutions on a rolling basis. It will only release your applications to your chosen institutions on receipt of your form and registration fee, along with formal references from the referees nominated on your application form.
Tip: make sure that you ask permission from any elected referee before submitting the application form.
Applications for the GDL law course open around the 1st October for courses starting the following year. This means that, as a future GDL student, you should apply for the course during the final year of your undergraduate studies.
There is no GDL application deadline. Applications are dealt with on a rolling basis. However, the Central Applications Board suggests submitting yours as early as possible to ensure you secure a place at your preferred institution.
The GDL personal statement is a core part of the Central Applications Board’s application process. This piece of text must be up to 10,000 characters (around 1,500 to 2,000 words) and explain why you are interested in converting to law from a non-law degree, among other things.
The Central Applications Board suggests that you should try and keep your personal statement as generic as possible, as it will be released to all the institutions you apply to.
The CAB also provides examples of information you may wish to include in your GDL personal statement, including:
For more law personal statement tips, visit our guide by clicking the link below.the non-law student guide is here
To study the Graduate Diploma in Law, most institutions will require you to have completed a non-law degree and gained a minimum of a 2:2.
However, a large proportion of law firms and chambers will expect you to have a 2:1 at undergraduate degree level (except for in extenuating circumstances).
This, coupled with significant course fees, should be seriously considered when deciding to apply for the law conversion course.
See a full list of Graduate Diploma in Law providers and their entry requirements with our GDL Comparison Table.
Usually, you are free to decide where you wish to study and there are GDL courses in institutions all over the UK.
The cost of the GDL varies institution by institution. Like with other undergraduate and postgraduate courses, GDL costs are higher in London, so if you want to save money on the price of your GDL, you should look for courses in other UK cities. Check out our GDL courses page to compare GDL fees.Should you convert to law? Take the quiz!
However, following the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) announcement on 25 April 2017, the way solicitors will train and qualify will change dramatically once their new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) takes effect in September 2020.
To find out more, visit our page on The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
After your Graduate Diploma in Law, you’ll be able to progress onto either the Legal Practice Course for aspiring solicitors or the Bar Professional Training Course for aspiring barristers.
If you’re planning on becoming a solicitor, you will have to think about getting a training contract after the GDL and LPC.
If, after you finish your law conversion course, you decide that a career in law isn’t for you after all, there are plenty of other jobs for you after your law conversion course, such as in politics, journalism and the police force.
GDL distance learning is a good option for mature students studying law. It gives those in full-time work or with family commitments the flexibility to juggle other responsibilities while studying.
Which is better – a law degree or a conversion course? Read the full debate here and make your judgement!
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