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GDL Online and GDL Distance Learning

Considering completing the GDL online? This post is focused on completing the GDL by distance, including the structure of the course, the fees and the different providers.


GDL Distance Learning Overview

The online GDL usually includes the seven foundation legal subjects you find on a typical LLB course, which are:

In addition, coursework will need to be submitted as is also required by students studying on campus.

The first thing to keep in mind is that not every institution offers the option to study the GDL online. As it stands, the law schools that do allow this flexible option are: 

Note: this list can and may change as some universities occasionally alter how they run their GDL. It is therefore worth checking the institution’s website before applying. 

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GDL Online Fees

Studying law can be quite expensive. Unfortunately, you cannot use a student loan to fund the GDL, but these institutions will often offer scholarships. Here is a comparison of fees of the universities stated above for their distance-learning course: 

UniversityCourse DurationFees (2018/19)
University of LawFT: 12 months
PT: 21 months
£11,270
BPP Law SchoolFT: 12 months
PT: 18 months
£11,250
University of Central LancashireFT: 12 months
PT: 24 months
£7500
Nottingham Trent Law School2 years£8500 (£4250 per year)
Northumbria University2 years£8000 (£4000 per year)

Universities may also allow flexible payment options so that you do not need to pay the fees upfront.

You can find out more on financing your GDL with our GDL Funding page here >>

How Does GDL Distance Learning Work?

The GDL learnt from a distance requires you to be able access lectures, tutorials, informal assessments and resources such as textbooks online. It is essentially a self-taught course. 

Arguably more than if you were on campus, you need to be organised with your time and notes, especially if you are working whilst you plan to do the GDL, and you need to be an independent learner. 

As an example, if you were to choose University of Law’s ‘I-GDL’, you are required to undertake up to 50 hours of pre-study of a course called ‘Legal Method’, which introduces you to the English legal system before you start the GDL.

If you learn better by seeking support, and from people face-to-face, it might better to enrol on the GDL part-time, assuming this is convenient in terms of location and time. 

Read more about different part-time GDL providers here >>

Duration of the GDL Online

Some of the universities above will do the online course either in one year full-time (BPPUniversity of LawLancashire allow this, as well part-time options), or the course will run over two years (Northumbria and Nottingham do not have a one year option). 

Whether you complete the course over one year or two will be guided by decisions, including arranging funding, current jobs and time needed for training contract applications. 

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Where Do Final Assessments Take Place?

All of the universities above have online lectures and tutorials, as well as informal assessments to test learning. They also have coursework that can be done online.

However, in most cases, the final exams for the seven foundation subjects (your TortContract, Criminal etc) must be sat in a campus. How flexible your university is on this policy is something you need to check.

University of Law, for example, allows you by prior arrangement to sit the final exams in the regional campus closest to you, or if you are overseas, the exam may be taken there by permission. 

However, BPP expect you to sit the exams in one of their London centres. They may allow you to sit the exams in one of their regional centres, but they do not automatically grant this. 

If you have any doubts or queries over this, it is worth checking with the university before you send in your application.


Learn more about the Graduate Diploma in Law:

Author: Jagmaan Bakshi

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