Non-law students who want to become solicitors or barristers need to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

Also known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE), the course puts non-law graduates on an equal platform with those who studied law at undergraduate level.

The process to convert to law in Scotland is different and the equivalent of a GDL is the Graduate Entry LLB/Accelerated LLB which takes two years. Find out more about training to be a solicitor in Scotland.

What does the GDL involve?

In addition to providing non-law students with a basic foundation in legal theory, there are seven core modules covered on the course. These are:

  • contract law;
  • constitutional and administrative law;
  • criminal law;
  • equity and trusts;
  • European law;
  • property law;
  • tort.

You will also have to study an eighth subject, which may be determined by the institution or a free choice from a set list. This could include:

  • directors' duties;
  • immigration law;
  • legal ethics;
  • patent law.

To find a conversion course, search for GDL and CPE courses.

How long does the GDL take?

The course covers approximately 18 months' worth of content from a three-year law degree into one year full time or two years part time.

Each week you will have around 45 hours of lectures, tutorials, and self-study culminating in a three-hour final exam on each subject.

How do I apply?

Students apply for conversion courses in the final year of their undergraduate degree. All applications for full-time places are made to the Central Applications Board (CAB), while part-time applications go directly to course providers.

You need to submit your application as early as you can in the autumn term as there is no closing date and applications are dealt with as they are submitted. This means that the later you apply the more flexible you will have to be about where you study.

How much does the GDL cost?

Fees vary depending on where you choose to study. For example a full-time course at The University of Law costs from £8,050 to £10,200 depending on which campus you study at, while Manchester Metropolitan University charges £6,930 for its full-time GDL.

Some courses expect you to pay a £250 deposit when you accept your place and then you need to arrange how to pay the remainder of your fees.

Is funding available?

Some law firms will sponsor their future trainees' studies. For sponsorship on the GDL, this will mean looking at the law firms that recruit two years in advance.

Students intending to pursue a career at the Bar can apply for scholarships from the Inns of Court.

Some law schools also offer scholarships. For example, BPP offers £300,000 in scholarships for its law programmes.

Alternatively, loans are available to fund the course. BPP offers an exclusive Law Loan of up to £25,000 for its full-time GDL students.

You need to check with an individual institution to see what it offers.

Find out more about funding postgraduate study and search for jobs in the legal profession.