Graduate Diploma in Law

  1. Duration:
    1yr Full-time
  2. Typical offer:
  3. Enrolment: 5th September 2017

Course Overview

Swansea University’s Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), also sometimes referred to as the Common Professional Examination (CPE) is a programme for non-law graduates, or those with equivalent qualifications, wishing to either enter the legal profession or work in law-related employment. The GDL is designed to provide the legal knowledge necessary to satisfy the academic requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and the Institute of Legal Executives.

Key Features

  • The GDL is a full-time, 36-week, intensive course designed to facilitate the acquisition of sound legal knowledge in those areas of law which are known as the ‘Foundations of Law’ plus one additional area of law.
  • The course is preceded by a two-week period of directed reading on the English Legal System and the principles of legal scholarship (no attendance required, home study).
  • Teaching commences with an induction period which includes a short block of lectures and seminars concentrating on the English Legal System and the acquisition of legal skills.
  • The foundation subjects of Contract, Tort, Public Law, Equity & Trusts, Land Law, Criminal Law, and European Union Law are taught by means of a series of lectures and compulsory seminars spanning two teaching blocks.
  • A further legal subject is studied by means of a supervised research project.
  • Class contact averages 16 hours per week. Students should expect to spend a minimum of 40 hours per week, attending classes and undertaking private study.



The Swansea GDL is a full-time, 36-week intensive course, enrolment commencing 5th September 2017. It is designed to provide the legal knowledge necessary to satisfy the academic requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Bar Standards Board and the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX).

Entry Requirements

To enrol on the GDL an applicant must normally have obtained an undergraduate degree awarded by a recognised UK or Republic of Ireland institution. (Please note that those wishing to progress to the Bar should normally have achieved at least a 2 (ii) honours classification in their undergraduate degree. Visit further information).

Students with alternative professional qualifications and/or experience and international students please see information on ‘Non-standard Qualifications’ below.

How To Apply

All applications must be made through the Central Applications Board (CAB) on-line at

Please note that applicants should NOT wait until they have obtained a Certificate of Academic Standing before making an application. We may be able to offer a conditional place in the interim. 

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2017/18 are as follows:

UK/EU International
Full-time £6,850 £11,000

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3% for International students and at the capped fee rate as set by the UK Government for UK/EU students.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis binding or photocopying costs.

There are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course.

Non-standard Qualifications

Those with overseas degrees:

 (i) If you plan to qualify as a solicitor you should make your application as normal, through the Central Applications Board (CAB

On receipt of your application, Swansea University will assess the equivalence of your international qualification by reference to UK NARIC: 

(ii) If you plan to qualify as  a barrister you should obtain a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board. Further information is available at: 
Mature applicants with alternative qualifications or experience:
If you plan to qualify as either a solicitor or barrister then you should obtain your Certificate of Academic Standing from either the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA: or the Bar Standards Board (see above).

Additional language requirements:

Prospective students whose first language is not English may also be required to demonstrate their language proficiency by achieving IELTS Level 6. For more information on this visit

GDL Discounted Fees

GDL Tuition Fees 2017/18





Bursary available to graduates of Welsh universities only (including Swansea)

UK, EU and International students: £500 bursary

GDL Fees - Instalments

Fees can be paid in four instalments:

25% - at enrolment (Less £350 deposit)

25% - November 2017

25% - January 2018

25% - April 2018

Professional and Career Development Loan

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) are offered by a small number of high street banks for students on taught master’s degrees. You may be able to borrow between £300 and £10,000 and the Government pays your interest while you study. Repayments begin once you have finished your course, so you need to be confident that you will be able to repay the loan. Applications need to be submitted to your chosen bank at least 3 months before your course starts.

To order an application pack or receive further advice/information please call the PCDL helpline on 0800 585 505 or visit the website.

If you are advised by a bank or the National Careers Service that the degree you are interested in is not registered on the Professional Career Development Loan list please let us know by emailing If the programme is eligible we will then arrange for it to be registered.


The Swansea GDL employs a wide range of assessment methods, including multiple choice tests, coursework, mini-dissertation and traditional 3-hour, unseen examinations. The pass mark for all assessed work is 40%.

Career Prospects

Non-law graduates are being welcomed into the legal profession at an increasing rate, as they are perceived as bringing a fresh perspective to the practice of law, and now make up approximately 50% of all new lawyers. Successful completion of the Swansea GDL, which is accredited by the SRA, Bar and ILEX satisfies all of the academic requirements for admission to the vocational stage of training as a solicitor, barrister or legal executive.

UK qualified lawyers have the opportunity to not only work in local and nationally based firms and chambers, public bodies and businesses but also in legal environments around the world.

In addition, the Swansea GDL is also relevant to those wishing to enhance their job prospects:

Law future careers

What next after the GDL?

In order to qualify as a solicitor or barrister you will have to complete the vocational stage of training. The College of Law and Criminology offer both a full-time and part-time, Legal Practice Course (LPC), successful completion of which satisfies the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. (For more information on our LPC, contact Michaela Leyshon, LPC Admissions Tutor at

For intending barristers, visit the Bar Standards Board at

Information on Swansea University Careers and Employability Service can be found here:

Student Quote

Isabel Roszkowski

“I completed the GDL at Swansea University in 2010. I wanted to gain practical legal experience before continuing my studies, so found a position as a paralegal at a local high street firm. Whilst the work was interesting and challenging, I knew I wanted to work for a larger commercial firm. I moved to London and began applying for training contracts whilst working as a paralegal in Herbert Smith. I was lucky enough to be offered a contract with Edwards Wildman, a small city firm which combines a small trainee intake with top quality work and high calibre clients.

Before beginning my training I worked in-house for a start-up technology company to acquire a further diversity of experience. The position allowed me to gain valuable exposure to IP work, which is an area of law I am particularly interested in.I am currently in my first seat in the Commercial Litigation department which so far has been interesting and varied. I am enjoying my training contract and look forward to the next two years”.

Isabel Roszkowski