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Legal Studies (Certificate of Higher Education)

The Certificate of Higher Education in Legal Studies provides you with an introduction to law, with a focus on developing academic, legal and transferable skills.

It is ideal if you have a general interest in law, wish to pursue further studies but don't have the right qualifications or don't want to commit to a whole degree yet, or are interested in enhancing your transferable skills for career purposes.


  • This course can be used as an entry qualification for a range of law degrees.
  • Our School of Law is a leading international centre for world-class legal teaching, research and scholarship and is the most rapidly expanding law school within the University of London.
  • We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top three in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
  • Dedicated academic skills workshops are run at Birkbeck by our Senior Learning Development Tutor, who can advise on essay writing, time-management, efficient reading and note-making, giving presentations and participating in seminars.
  • We encourage our students to participate in the wide range of extracurricular activities we offer, including lectures by internationally renowned guest speakers, our Student Law Society, our annual retreat to Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, which allows you to explore contemporary issues in law with specialist speakers, and our successful mooting and mock trial programme, where advocacy training is given by experienced practising barristers.
  • During each year, we offer a range of career-related talks.

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

On successful completion of this Certificate of Higher Education, you can progress onto our LLB Law.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete modules worth a total of 120 credits.

You take four compulsory modules worth 30 credits each. 

You normally take one module a term, but if you wish to complete the certificate within a year you will need to take two modules in the summer term. It is also recommended that you take the modules in the following order: English Legal System; The Administration of Justice; Law, Society and Ethics; Law in Context.

  • Pre-course reading: Nicholas J. McBride, Letters to a Law Student (2nd edn, Longman 2010).
  • Course textbook: E. Allbon and S. Kaur Dua, Elliot and Quinn’s English Legal System (19th edn, Pearson 2018).

Module groups

Please note that the modules listed here are indicative; not all modules will be available every year.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

    All modules are taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don’t meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose.

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • Teaching and assessment


    Lectures, seminars, virtual learning environments, one-to-one tutorials, web-based independent skills tutorials, and public seminars and research events.


    Short writing exercises, essays and reports, class presentations, case-study analysis, online discussion forums, and self and peer assessment.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in the legal profession, human resources or local government. This programme can also be useful in becoming a barrister, solicitor, chartered legal executive or human resources officer.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.