About the course
This is a two-year conversion course designed for non-law graduates intending to become solicitors or barristers in the UK, or wishing to enhance their career prospects with a legal qualification. The intensive course covers the seven core academic subjects of an undergraduate law degree. It enables progression to the Legal Practice Course (LPC), or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, formerly the BVC), and a legal career thereafter. Overseas students should note that the GDL is usually only recognised as a qualifying law course within the UK.
Why choose this course?
- You have the flexibility to study around work and family commitments.
- There's comprehensive support available that has been highly-valued by past students.
- Students who successfully complete this course are guaranteed a place on Nottingham Law School's excellent-rated Legal Practice Course (LPC). You can also apply for our acclaimed Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
- Students who go on to successfully complete our LPC or BPTC can apply for the award of a Graduate LLB, providing an academic and well as a practical award.*
- Scholarships are available.
- Materials will be enhanced from 2013 entry to improve quality and provide an integrated and managed learning environment.
* Please note students who are exempt from some of the GDL subjects may not be eligible for a Graduate LLB.
We hold open events for the Graduate Diploma in Law (distance learning) at various points throughout the year. Please visit the events page for further details and to book your place.
If you have any queries about this course, please contact us on +44(0)115 848 4460 or via email.
Please see the Applying
Course length: Two years distance-learning
Study location: City site
Fees and funding:
Please visit our fees page.
The distance learning GDL is a two year course. There are four weekend schools in each year, attendance at which is compulsory (subject to medical or other emergencies). Residential weekends usually take place in October, December, February and March.
The course covers the seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge required by The Law Society. You should be prepared to devote 15 hours per week to your studies.
The first weekend gives an introduction to English Legal Method. There is a pass / fail written exercise for English Legal Method to be completed at home following this weekend. All students must pass this test, however, it is formative and does not count toward the final aggregate. There is also teaching on the four core modules at the first weekend.
The remaining three weekends have sessions on the four core subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law; Contract Law; European Union Law and Law of Tort, which are also taught at the first weekend.
Four weekends covering three core subjects:
- Criminal Law
- Land Law
- Law of Equity and Trusts at all weekends.
In addition students are required to cover an area of law that goes beyond the core syllabus. This is achieved during year two when students complete an individual Research Project of 4,500 to 5,000 words.
How do you study?
- Lectures: distance learners are provided with all the online materials they will require to assist their study.
- Tutorials: tutorial contact takes place at all four weekend schools, attendance at which is compulsory. The emphasis on small group work (and sub-group work) enables us to offer a student-centred approach to learning, with exercises designed to encourage student activity rather than passive listening. Students get the benefits of individual tuition and those of group support.
- Coursework: there is continuous assessment by course work which tests the ability of students to analyse, research and persuade as well as reinforcing the understanding of topics. The coursework element of the seven core modules accounts for 21% of the mark for each subject. The research project in year two accounts for 9% of the overall mark.
- End of year exams, testing individual subjects: 70% of the mark of each of the seven taught modules.
- Oral skills: lawyers obviously need good debating and mooting skills. These are required informally throughout the course in tutorials.
Each subject is assessed individually, by coursework in three subjects (throughout the year) and an exam (at the end of the year).
Resources and facilities
Attendance is compulsory at the four residential weekends per year. Teaching is normally held at the City site of Nottingham Trent University and utilises all the facilities available to full-time students, including a well-stocked library with electronic access.
Students who have previously studied law may be eligible for exemptions, and direct entry to year two of the distance learning course. In this situation enquirers should contact the Solicitors' Regulation Authority or Bar Standards Board for clarification.
Many of our students live overseas and may not able to visit us. We have therefore created a video so that you can take a tour of the facilities.
Provisional dates are:
2013 / 14
- 4 - 6 October 2013
- 29 November - 1 December 2013
- 31 January - 2 February 2014
- 21 - 23 March 2014
2014 / 15
- 26 - 28 September 2014
- 5 - 7 December 2014
- 30 January - 1 February 2015
- 27 - 29 March 2015
Your future career
Although a career in the law is potentially very rewarding, you should be under no illusions that the current market is anything other than highly competitive. However, some firms will prefer you to be a non-law undergraduate because of your broader knowledge base from previous studies / qualifications; your maturity and commitment; your practical, relevant, well-rounded legal knowledge gained by studying the core subjects in context on the GDL.
As most city and larger provincial firms recruit two years in advance, it is worth writing to them now in order to see if they will offer you a work placement or an interview. Some will pay your fees if they offer you a training contract. Obtaining some form of work experience is important in showing your interest to potential employers and for finding out what a career in law is really like!
Nottingham Law School has a specialist Careers Service which is available to GDL, LPC and BPTC students. Careers talks will be given at weekends in the UK. All enrolled students will have access to Careers information via their Virtual Learning Portal.
This course does not currently offer placements but there are opportunities to gain work experience through involvement in pro bono projects.
- An undergraduate honours degree. Applicants without formal qualifications may be eligible subject to approval of their qualifications by the Solicitors Regulation Authority / Bar Standards Board
- Applications are assessed on an individual basis, taking into account any formal or professional qualifications, the personal statement, references, and any relevant life / work experience
- It is a programme requirement that students have access to the internet and are IT literate
English Language requirements
International and EU students also need to meet the English language requirements. Also see the full list of alternative qualifications for EU and international students.
Certificate of Academic Standing (CAS)
Anyone with non-standard qualifications may need to obtain a Certificate of Academic Standing (CAS) from either the Bar Standards Board or Solicitors Regulation Authority before they enrol on the GDL. Full details of who is required to obtain this Certificate can be found on the relevant website:
Bar Standards Board
Solicitors Regulation Authority
How to apply
Click the apply now button at the top of the page to complete your application.
You must make arrangements for submission of your reference. An academic reference is preferable. If this is difficult to obtain, a professional reference (e.g. from your employer) will be acceptable. If you have difficulty with either of these, please contact staff at the Law School for advice. One reference is sufficient in the first instance. Please give the name of a second referee, and we will contact them if we need to.
There is no application fee. Your application will be considered by the Admissions team and a letter will be sent to you as soon as possible.
Telephone: +44 (0)115 848 4460
Please note the following information for applicants