Skip to main content

Law (Graduate Diploma)

For further information on making an application see How to apply.

Our new Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) enables you to gain the legal skills necessary for the best possible preparation in beginning vocational training for a career in legal practice. This graduate diploma course teaches you the seven foundations of law as required by the Bar Standards Board for the vocational training for barristers. It also equips you to embark on the necessary preparation for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. You will develop the ability to:

  • critically engage with sources of law, including cases, and scholarship from law and related fields
  • apply principles of law
  • engage in basic legal research using specific legal resources.

If you already have an undergraduate degree and want to gain the skills to help you qualify, but are not yet ready to commit to a full master's degree, this GDL is for you. Birkbeck’s GDL is unique in teaching you to understand and apply the law, as well as teaching you about the law in its political, social and economic context. We want our graduates to not only go on to be successful lawyers, but also to be able to participate in important contemporary debates at the junction of law and public life.

Highlights

  • Our Graduate Diploma in Law offers a fast-track route to retrain as a lawyer, with numerous opportunities to network with law practitioners and legal scholars.
  • Giving you plenty of opportunities for professional development and networking, you will benefit from our School of Law’s vibrant annual cycle of inspiring expert-led public lectures and conferences, in which school and cross-school research centres and institutes play a key role.
  • Birkbeck is a hub of expertise on creative, innovative and critical thinking and Birkbeck School of Law has a strong tradition of research across its departments of Law and Criminology. Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields.
  • Our city centre campus is in Bloomsbury WC1, a lively student-centred place that is home to a number of universities and other colleges of the University of London. You will be able to take advantage of the rich research collections of University of London libraries as well as Birkbeck Library, which has a strong collection in critical, theoretical and interdisciplinary legal studies, including access to key specialist journals and an extensive range of online materials.

Course structure

The GDL consists of ten modules, each worth 15 credits. You take eight compulsory modules, giving you in-depth knowledge of the main areas of legal study, and two option modules from a range on offer.

Alongside formal studies, you will be encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities, including career information evenings with practitioners, open evenings with law firms, and talks on substantive law by expert practitioners and legal scholars.

Module groups

Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. In the event that there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A second-class honours degree (2:2) in a subject other than law. Applicants with less than a 2:2 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Applications are reviewed on their individual merits, and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

    On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.

    Apply now to secure your place. The earlier you apply, the sooner your application can be considered and you can enrol. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.

    English Language Requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement 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 and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student 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.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home students: £4540 pa
    Full-time home students: £9080 pa
    Part-time international students: £6610 pa
    Full-time international students: £13220 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Teaching methods consist of pre-recorded lecture material; online materials, including readings, exercises and prompts; regular interactive seminar sessions; career-related sessions, and law research and legal practice events.

    Teaching hours

    Our evening hours are normally between 6pm and 9pm (6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm). Some programmes also offer teaching during the day and this will be clearly signposted to you where it is available.

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Scheduled teaching sessions may include lectures, seminars, workshops or laboratory work. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and field trips. On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project (if applicable).

    Alongside your contact hours, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. The amount of time you need to allocate to study both for taught sessions (this might include online sessions and/or in-person sessions) and personal study will depend on how much you are studying during the year and whether you are studying full time or part time.

    Birkbeck’s courses are made up of modules and allocated ‘credit’. One credit is equivalent to ten hours of learning time. Modules are usually in 15, 30 or 60 credit units. A 15-credit module will mean around 150 hours of learning, including taught sessions and independent study or group work. This is spread out over the whole period of that module and includes the time you spend on any assessments, including in examinations, preparing and writing assessments or engaged in practical work as well as any study support sessions to help you in your learning.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students is encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies.

    Timetables

    Full timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Assessment consists of quizzes, examinations and essays.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    As a graduate of the GDL, you are one step closer on your career path to becoming a legal practitioner. Possible professions include:

    • solicitor
    • barrister
    • policy adviser
    • civil servant
    • campaigner
    • academic.

    Alternatively, you may use your legal practice and critical reasoning skills within the industry in which you work, including in business, technology, the arts and NGOs.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers Service - Birkbeck Futures - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You will need to apply for our Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) via LawCAB (Law Central Admissions Board).

    You will find all the information you need about the application process and how to apply on the LawCAB website.