GDL Case Study – BPP
We caught up with full-time BPP GDL (Law Conversion Course) student, Izzy, to get the lowdown on the GDL. She tells us about the best parts, the most challenging parts and her top tips for surviving the GDL!
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How does study on the GDL (Law Conversion Course) differ from university?
I found the GDL much more structured than my university degree (BA in French and Linguistics). Because you’re essentially cramming the core 7 modules from a law degree into one year, the GDL is very regimented to ensure you get through it all. It also means you spend much less time on and reading around topics than at University. Having done an arts degree, it meant I had fewer essays to do, but overall my weekly workload was more.
The exam style is completely new. Writing a legal answer is a completely different skill to the academic essays I was used to at university. There is a strict structure to follow and questions are generally based on factual scenarios rather than essay-style questions. The environment was different too. At University, there was a campus with hundreds of different students. Whereas on the GDL you’ll likely spend most of your time with your one tutor group for the whole year in a one-building site.
What are the best bits about studying the GDL (Law Conversion Course)?
I made the definitive decision to do the GDL and apply for training contracts during my year abroad after doing a number of legal placements. By the time I started my GDL, it was a relief to finally understand a lot of the legal concepts and jargon I’d come across. It was also reassuring to know that I did enjoy law and had chosen a career that was right for me. I enjoyed the wide variety of modules on the GDL. Although people can be quite doom and gloom because of the workload, this was only really towards the end of the year. There was a lot of time at the beginning to really get into the course and enjoy getting to know a new city, a new home and new friends.
What are the most challenging bits about studying the GDL (Law Conversion Course)?
Initially getting used to a completely new academic area was quite challenging. There are a lot of new concepts and terminology, and the time-pressure means that you don’t have long to get your head around them! Therefore time management is key given the amount of content on the course. The nature of the course also means you have all or nothing end-of-year exams. This meant that the exam period was a lot more intense than my University experience. There, I’d had 3 years of modules building up to my final grade.
What skills do you need to employ to successfully study the GDL (Law Conversion Course)?
The GDL is really good preparation for a career in law. The skills you need to employ to succeed are the same as those which a trainee solicitor or barrister require. Firstly, effective time management is hugely important. Attention to detail is also key for picking out the relevant facts from the questions and applying them to specific points of law. Although all the assessments are individual, teamwork is hugely important. A lot of the tutorial sessions centre on group activities, and having friends who could help clarify certain points during revision was invaluable! Finally, commitment and stamina during the difficult patches will definitely help you do well.
How do you manage your time on the GDL (Law Conversion Course)?
As the GDL is so structured, it is easy to allocate a specific time each week to a specific task. On most GDL courses, you are likely to do 7 modules (Land, Equity & Trusts, Criminal, Contract, Tort, Constitution and Administration, and EU) and you’re likely to have a lecture and a tutorial to prepare for in each module every week. As my timetable was the same each week, I did the same piece of work prep (e.g. Land Tutorial) at the same time each week (e.g. Monday at 10am for two hours). And when that wasn’t possible I had to be prepared to do some evening work or a few hours on the weekend.
What does a typical day studying the GDL entail (Law Conversion Course)?
My GDL course was split into 2 lecture days, 2 tutorial days and one day off. A typical day involved two or three hours of lectures or tutorials, and spending the time in between finishing tutorial prep in the library. The earliest start I had was at 9am and latest I would typically finish was around 6pm. Only having 14 contact hours a week does mean that you have flexibility to fit your days around other plans. So some days I would start a bit later and work later if that’s what was best.
What are your top 5 tips for surviving the GDL (Law Conversion Course)?
- Get into good routines early on. Once you find one that works for you stick to it.
- Stay on top of the workload. As you move on so quickly from each topic you can’t afford to miss sessions. Try to catch up straight away if you feel you’re getting behind.
- When it comes to exams on the GDL, be really structured with your answers. Follow your tutor’s suggested structures and you can’t really go wrong.
- Get advice from as many of your friends who are doing the GDL at the same time or who’ve done it before. I found my GDL friends hugely helpful in clarifying points I didn’t completely understand and giving me ideas for revision.
- Enjoy being a student! I loved fitting my timetable around the rest of my life, (you can work from home when you want to and go to the gym in the middle of the day as long as you’re getting the work done at another time)! Once you start working you won’t have the same flexibility, so make the most of it while you can.