There are many factors to consider when converting to law. Do you want to move? Work part-time? Can you even afford it? What are the differences between courses? Keep reading to find out.

Who Needs the PGDL?

The Postgraduate Diploma in Law course, previously the Graduate Diploma in Law (the GDL) or also known as the Law Conversion course, is designed to prepare non-law students looking to progress onto the SQE in order to qualify as a solicitor or barrister. The course is aimed at providing students who didn’t complete a qualifying law degree at undergraduate level a fast-tracked legal course to equip them with the legal knowledge required to further pursue a career in law. If you have not yet applied for a law qualification, you may need to think about where to study law at university.

Although completing a PGDL is no longer a requirement for students looking to qualify as a solicitor as a result of the introduction of the SQE which replaces the option, the course provides the foundation for the pathway into practice for non-law graduates who want to qualify as a lawyer in England and Wales.

Without a PGDL, starting your SQE preparation can be a daunting task. The course provides you with a solid basis of legal knowledge, and trains you in terms of critical thinking, both of which you need in order to succeed in the SQE and launch your legal career. Therefore, it is considered to be a fail-safe option for those coming from a non-law background.

How to Choose Between UK PGDL Courses

There are many factors to be considered when it comes to choosing the right PGDL course. Although it only lasts a year, you will be on a very intensive schedule, so choosing the right course provider is crucial.
Some questions you should consider before applying include:

  • Would you prefer to study the PGDL full-time or part-time?
  • Are you looking at options for an online PGDL?
  • How do you plan on funding your PGDL?
  • Are you planning on applying for any scholarships? (If you are, make sure you check your options before actually applying for a course, as scholarship deadlines can vary.)
  • Do you know if you want to be a barrister, or a solicitor?

UK PGDL Courses: Costs

The cost of the PGDL course can vary a lot, with some of the cheapest courses charging somewhere around £5,000 and the most expensive requiring closer to a £13,000 investment.

Unfortunately, as with SQE related courses and the BTC, the PGDL is not eligible for postgraduate government funding. Therefore, choosing a provider whose course meets your financial and study needs is incredibly important. The good news is that there are a range of scholarships available from various bodies, with providers often offering full and part scholarship opportunities to their GDL course candidates. The PGDL course can also be sponsored through the Inns of Court Scholarships for those interested in pursuing the Bar.

Costs may also be covered by your firm if you secure a training contract before undertaking their course. However, if you have not, you will need to cover the PGDL fees yourself. In that case, you may want to consider a part-time PGDL law course. This way, you could work and study at the same time.

Therefore, when looking at provider options for your PGDL, take a look at their course fees and the scholarship options available to cover the costs – you’ll find plenty of options in our table below.

You also need to carefully consider the location of your PGDL course, and the living costs that come with it. Pursuing an online PGDL course would resolve the costs that come with moving, but you still need to think about covering your day-to-day spendings for the duration of your course. If the PGDL you are considering comes with a move, then there are multiple other elements to factor in: accommodation, different living costs depending on the location of your provider and transport to and from your university.

The course fees themselves can differ from one campus to another. For example, studying the PGDL at one of the University of Law’s out-of-London campuses will cost £10,100, whereas studying the course one of the London-based campus costs £12,550.

UK PGDL Courses: Commitment

Most providers offer the option to take the PGDL either on a part-time or full-time basis. As a full-time course, the qualification generally takes eight months to complete with little option to work alongside, whereas the part-time option will usually require 20-month commitment but offers the opportunity to work alongside study. While most providers offer both options, it is important to ensure that your selected provider offers the course set-up most suited to your study goals.

Some providers also offer an integrated master’s option which typically requires an extra three-month time commitment.

When considering whether you would prefer the full-time or part-time PGDL, think about the things that come with each. If you are undertaking a full-time PGDL at a university, you will have more time to socialise and be part of a community. If you choose to work alongside your study, you will come out of your PGDL in a more advantageous financial position.


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UK PGDL Courses: Comparison Table

There are currently 21 PGDL universities in the country (excluding the separate campuses for BPP and University of Law), each of which are listed in the table below. Compare the entry requirements, locations and course fees for all available UK PGDL courses using the table below to support your decision.

GDL ProviderLocationsCourse Fees (2020-21)Entry Requirements
University of LawVarious locationsFrom £10,100 – £12,550 depending on location2:2
Bournemouth UniversityBournemouth£9,2502:2
BPP UniversityVarious locationsFrom £9,824 – £13,400 depending on location2:2
University of BrightonBrighton£7,8202:2
Cardiff UniversityCardiff£10,9502:2
University of Central LancashirePreston£9,2502:2
City University LondonLondon, Northampton Square £12,9402:1
De Montfort UniversityLeicester£6,5002:2
University of East AngliaNorwich£9,5002:2
Leeds Beckett UniversityLeeds (Distance Learning)£8,9502:2
London Metropolitan UniversityLondon£6,5002:2
London South Bank UniversityLondon£6,786.662:2
Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchester£9,250Honours degree. May be considered without degree.
Northumbria UniversityNewcastle upon Tyne£8,990With degree 2:2.
May be considered without degree.
Nottingham Trent UniversityNottingham£9,100
With degree 2:2. May be considered without degree.
Oxford Brookes UniversityOxford£8,9002:2
University of Sheffield (ULaw)Sheffield £10,1002:2
University of SussexBrighton£9,5002:2
University of the West of EnglandDistance Learning£8,7502:2
University of WolverhamptonWolverhampton and Distance Learning£8,395 2:2
The College of Legal PracticeVirtual/Remote£3,2502:2 or 3 A-Levels (or equivalent qualification), alongside at least two years work experience in legal services

Please note that the information in this table is checked and updated regularly to the best of our ability. However, the information may be subject to change and we therefore cannot guarantee the accuracy of all information at all times. We therefore recommend contacting the PGDL institutions direct before making any significant application decisions.

UK PGDL Courses: Non-London

London may be the centre of law in the UK (with over 120,000 solicitors working there), but that does not mean you cannot be trained at a high standard elsewhere. Make sure you consider all your options before applying, including what else specific universities have to offer. Visit the links below to learn more about UK PGDL courses outside London:

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UK PGDL Courses: London

If your heart is set on London, there are also multiple options you can explore. The courses below vary in fees and structure, so you have plenty of choice if you would prefer to live in the city. Visit the links below to learn more about PGDL courses in London:

Making Your Choice

Your PGDL course experience, complete with its setbacks and advantages, will undoubtedly affect your pathway. Therefore, you need to make sure you are prepared. Here are some other things to research before making your choice:

  • What law firms is your university partnered with?
  • What career opportunities does each course offer?
  • Does your course offer placements?
  • Are there any law events coming up at your chosen university?
  • Is there anyone you can reach out to that has completed a PGDL?

Choosing the right course for your needs can be difficult, but we are here to help you all the way. Make sure you check out the blogs below to prepare for making your PGDL choices:


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