Graduate Diploma in Law

  1. Duration:
    1yr Full-time
  2. Typical offer:
  3. Enrolment: 1st September 2015

Course Overview

The 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-relevant employment. No prior knowledge of law is required.

Key Features

Course Structure:

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, the acquisition of legal skills, and European Union Law
  • The foundation subjects of Contract, Tort, Public Law, Equity & Trusts, Land Law and Criminal 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, next commencing 1st September 2015. 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 for further information).

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

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

How To Apply

All applications for full-time GDL/CPE courses must be made through the Central Applications Board (CAB). Applications are open for September 2015 entry.

Applications should be made to the CAB on-line ( as CAB do not accept paper applications.

Please note that applicants should NOT wait until they have obtained a Certificate of Academic Standing or of Partial Exemption before making an application.

Certificate of Academic Standing

To be admitted onto a Graduate Diploma in Law/CPE a prospective student must fall into one of the following two categories:

  • they must be a graduate, holding an undergraduate degree (at least 2.ii standard if they wish to qualify as a barrister) that has been awarded by an institution with degree awarding powers in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. This does not include foundation degrees;

  • they must have been granted a Certificate of Academic Standing by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or The General Council of the Bar.

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2016/17 are as follows:

UK/EU International
GradDip Full-time £6,350 £10,700

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to inflationary increases 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.

GDL Discounted Fees

Swansea University's College of Law is currently offering a range of scholarships for full-time applicants meeting certain eligibility criteria. The scholarships offer a tuition fee discount on the standard 2015/16 rate by the amounts shown in the table below.

Eligibility Criteria

Scholarship Amount

Tuition Fees Payable

UK/EU alumni of a Welsh university (including Swansea University)



UK/EU students (excluding Welsh university alumni)




International students – Swansea University alumni




International students (excluding Swansea University alumni)



GDL Fees can be paid in instalments as follows:

25% At enrolment (Less £350 deposit if paid)

25% 27th November

25% 29th January

25% 15th April

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 - £10,000 and the Government pays your interest while you study. Repayments begin once you have finished your course (usually after 1-2 months), 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.

Non-standard Qualifications

To be eligible to commence a Graduate Diploma in Law/CPE an individual must normally be a graduate (at least of 2.ii standard if they wish to qualify as a barrister) of a UK university. 

However, it is recognised that applicants may be able to demonstrate an equivalent standard in other ways:

Those with oversees degrees:

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

On receipt of your application, Swansea University will assessthe 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 (Note: there is no need to delay your application until a CAS is obtained, as Swansea University may be able to offer a conditional place in the interim.)

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 Bar (see above).


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 in areas such as business management, the probation service, forensic psychology, trading standards, politics, human resource management, education to name a few.

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 School of Law at Swansea 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