What is the PGDL law conversion course and what are the requirements to convert to law? Read on for our guide on law conversion.

What Is the PGDL Law Conversion Course?

The PGDL, otherwise known as the Law Conversion Course, replaces the GDL as the course aimed at non-law graduates who are looking to pursue a career in law.

The GDL was a requirement for non-law graduates pursuing the LPC. The PGDL is not required for non-law graduates pursuing the SQE.

The PGDL remains a requirement for those pursuing the Bar Practice Course (BPC)

The PGDL is the stepping stone from a non-law degree to either the:

  1. Legal Practice Course (LPC) – if pursuing a career as a solicitor (this route is, however, being phased out);
  2. Bar Practice Course (BPC) – if pursuing a career as a barrister.

Those opting for a career in law via either of the above paths without a qualifying LLB law degree will need to take the PGDL.

Those taking the SQE aren’t obligated to take the PGDL, but it is a good way to deepen your knowledge of core areas of the law.

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PGDL Law Conversion Course Structure

The structure of the PGDL law conversion course varies from provider to provider. Generally, the course is formed by a combination of lectures and tutorials.

In addition to the allocated contact hours of your chosen course (this is usually around 8-10 hours), as a PGDL student, you will be expected to spend time preparing for classes (usually several hours).

Preparing thoroughly gives you the best chance of success. You should check the format at your chosen institution and ensure it aligns with the way you want to learn.

Modules

The Post-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 comparable to the compulsory LLB modules studied during a traditional undergraduate course:

  • English Legal System and Constitutional Law (including Retained EU Law)
  • Tort Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Administrative Law and Human Rights
  • Land Law
  • Trusts
  • Law of Organisations
  • Contract Law

PGDL Law Conversion Course Application Process

All full-time PGDL applications must be submitted through a centralised system called the Central Applications Board (CAB). Any offers will then come directly from the PGDL universities

The Central Applications Board requires you to submit: 

  1. The CAB application form containing up to three institution choices (in order of preference)
  2. A registration fee of £25 (this will be refunded if you cancel your application within 14 days)

The PGDL law course application form requires the following information:

  • Personal details
  • The type of lawyer you want to qualify as (solicitor/barrister/undecided)
  • Relevant undergraduate degree transcripts (to show you meet the course requirements)
  • Any exemptions to study
  • Your employment history
  • Who will pay for the course

The CAB releases 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.

When to Apply for the Law Conversion Course

Applications for the PGDL law course open around the 1st October for courses starting the following year. This means that, as a future PGDL student, you should apply for the course during the final year of your undergraduate studies.

There is no PGDL application deadline, since 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. 

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PGDL Personal Statement Guidance

The PGDL personal statement is a core part of the Central Applications Board’s application process.

In up to 10,000 characters (around 1,500 to 2,000 words), you must 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 PGDL personal statement, including:

  • Why you are applying for the course
  • What interests you about the course
  • What motivates you
  • Skills and achievements
  • Hobbies
  • Work experience

For more law personal statement tips, visit our guide by clicking the link below.

the non-law student guide is here

PGDL Law Conversion Course Requirements

To study the Post-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 (excepting extenuating circumstances).

This, coupled with significant course fees, should be considered when deciding to apply for the law conversion course.

See a full list of Post-Graduate Diploma in Law providers and their entry requirements using our PGDL Comparison Table.

Where Can I Study a PGDL Law Conversion Course?

Usually, you are free to decide where you wish to study; there are PGDL courses in institutions all over the UK. Some providers, such as the University of Law, offer the course in multiple locations.

However, if you have already secured a training contract, your law firm funding your PGDL may have an exclusive arrangement with a particular provider, meaning that you must complete the course there.

How Much does it Cost?

The cost of the PGDL varies institution by institution. As with other undergraduate and postgraduate courses, PGDL costs are higher in London, so if you want to save money on the price of your PGDL, you should look for courses in other UK cities.

Check out our PGDL courses page to compare PGDL fees.

If you’re worried about not being able to pay for your studies, there are various PGDL funding opportunities available to aspiring lawyers, such as scholarships and law firm sponsorship.

Should you convert to law? Take the quiz!

PGDL and the SQE

Currently, to pursue a career as a solicitor, you will need to complete the Post-Graduate Diploma in Law after a non-law degree (unless you undertake a law apprenticeship).

The introduction of the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in 2020 has removed the obligation to undertake the PGDL, as you are able to take the SQE only.

However, law firms have expressed their preference for non-law candidates who have taken the PGDL, as it offers those from non-law backgrounds the opportunity to deepen their legal knowledge.

What Next?

After your Post-Graduate Diploma in Law, you’ll be able to progress onto the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) for aspiring solicitors, or the Bar Practice Course (BPC) for aspiring barristers.

If you’re planning on becoming a solicitor, you should think about getting a training contract after the PGDL + SQE.

For those who have begun or accepted a place on their PGDL course or other qualifying law degree after 21st of September 2021, the LPC is no longer an available option, and you will need to take the SQE.

If the barrister route is your chosen career path, a pupillage follows the BPC and is the last stage before qualifying as a barrister.

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, for example in politics, journalism or the police force.

Online and Distance Learning

PGDL 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.

ULaw's PGDL Course
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