Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) GDip

The GDL is a conversion course which gives non-law graduates or those with an overseas law degree an opportunity to pursue a career in law. It provides a rigorous and challenging learning experience, which is commended by employers and can lay the foundations of law knowledge necessary to move into legal professions such as a solicitor or barrister.  

On successful completion of the GDL you can progress to the next stage of training; either the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for those wishing to become barristers, or further training to become a solicitor.

We aim to consolidate and enhance your intellectual rigour and ability for independent learning through legal research, reasoning, and argument. You will acquire valued transferable skills in areas such as oral and written communication; group work; advocacy; interviewing and negotiation; critical thinking; and presentation skills. Not only will these skills assist you in entering the law profession, they will also assist your continuing development as you progress throughout your career. 

The GDL is a one-year full-time course, or two-year part-time course. Both courses are available on campus or through online distance learning.

Key Information

  • Duration:

    Full-time: one year; Part-time: two years.

  • Level:


  • Delivery:

    Campus or eLearning, Full-time and Part-time

  • Award Type:


  • Institution Code:

    CLANC C30

  • UCAS Code:

  • Campus:

    Preston and Online (Campus code: None)

  • Start Date:

    September (Campus and eLearning) and January (eLearning)

  • The School of Law and Social Science alumni have achieved great successes such as winning Law Teacher of the Year, receiving law scholarships from the Inns of Court in London, and more.
  • Many staff are professionally qualified and research active, with experience in practice as solicitors, barristers and judges or as senior managers in major organisations.
  • Our strong links with employers and research-informed teaching contributes to a cutting-edge learning experience.

Course Overview


Legal Skills

Contract Law

Criminal Law

Law of Torts

Public Law

Equity and Trusts

Land Law

European Union Law

You begin by studying the Legal Skills module, which aims to introduce a foundation of legal knowledge and includes an introductory online workshop prior to commencing the course in full. This provides a solid start to your journey and builds a fluency with the subject material that will empower you to progress through the rest of the GDL course.

Seven foundation modules are also studied, providing a broad insight into the legal knowledge required to prosper in the legal professions. These include: Contract Law, Criminal Law, Law of Torts, Constitutional Law, Equity and Trusts, Land Law, and European Union Law.

You will also submit an Independent Legal Research Project on the topic of your choice, with the full supervision and insight from an academic member of staff within the School of Law and Social Science. This is an opportunity to really develop your knowledge and expertise in an area that aligns with your interest and career aspirations, and work closely with academic staff who possess expert knowledge and professional insights.

More information about programme specifications and module information is available in the course handbook.

Fees 2020/21

Full-time: £8,000 per year (UK/EU)
Part-time: £4,250 per year (UK/EU)
Fees for international students

Entry Requirements

Applicants who are graduates must usually hold a degree in any subject, with a minimum 2:2 grade, from a UK or Republic of Ireland Higher Education Institution; or an overseas institution (subject to approval by the International Admissions process at UCLan)

Applicants who are not graduates may still be considered but are advised to make pre-application contact with the Admissions Tutor to discuss their qualifications and/or work history. In appropriate circumstances the School will call applicants for interview where it is thought necessary that further information might be required to assess the student’s ability to meet the above criteria.

For overseas applicants whose first language is not English or who have received higher education where the medium of instruction is not English, the language requirement is IELTS 6.5 (with no individual component below 6.0) or equivalent qualification.

International Students

View our entry requirements for your country

Scholarships and Bursaries

The University offers a range of scholarships and bursaries to support you through your studies.

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Further Information

Why choose UCLan?


The School of Law and Social Science is a long standing and experienced provider of both undergraduate and postgraduate law courses, with a history of over 40 years of providing legal education in the North West of England and now beyond through our distance learning courses. The School was Highly Commended as Legal Education Provider of the Year at the last Solicitors Journal Awards.

Our dedicated and well qualified academic staff are here to support your learning and development. We intentionally keep our cohorts small, prioritising the quality of our teaching and your learning. In this way we can give you the strongest possible academic experience and pastoral support to help you succeed.

Law students

Harris Building

The large nature of the School of Law and Social Science means that we can offer our GDL programme at an affordable and competitive rate, whilst still offering the facilities and opportunities available at a larger university.

Your learning is supported with detailed study materials and module handbooks prepared by the course team. Online support is available to students on distance learning and on campus programmes, and careers advice and support is available from our staff in the School of Law and Social Science as well as our University Careers Service.

Law students

Moot court room

Our campus is designed to enrich and stimulate your learning. Small group teaching sessions take place in the grand Harris Building, home of the School of Law and Social Science. Larger group teaching takes place in modern lecture theatres. Our purpose built moot courtroom provides an opportunity to explore and work within a mock-up of a real courtroom, to provide you true-to-life experiences and confidence working in a legal environment. Our Library contains a dedicated Law Library, with extensive e-law facilities providing access to many legal and academic sources to on campus and distance learning students.

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How to apply

Full-time on campus students should apply via LAWCABS website.

All other students (part time campus, full or part time distance learning) should apply directly to the University via the online application system. 

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For students studying on campus:

  • Full time: Your classes are timetabled between 2pm – 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Part-time: Your classes are timetabled between 6pm – 9pm on Tuesday and Thursday.

For students studying via distance learning:

The distance learning course is delivered using the latest in teaching technology with interactive workbooks including text, audio and video files as well as self-test questions. Interaction with tutors and fellow students is done using synchronous discussion boards and video links.

Full-time and part-time:

All teaching takes place via the university’s on-line learning platform using interactive workbooks, synchronous discussions and personal feedback on written work.


The seven foundation modules are assessed by a 1500 word piece of coursework (50%) and exam (50%). These exams are two hours long, and held at the end of the semester in which the module is taught. Distance learning students are assessed on their contributions to synchronous discussions and work submitted to tutors. Legal Skills is assessed by an online assessment on the English Legal System (25%), and by a moot (75%).

You will also complete an Independent Legal Research Project on a topic of your choice. This 3,000 word dissertation is an opportunity for you to pursue your own interests in an area of law which falls outside the foundation modules, under the supervision of our experienced academic staff.

UCLan Leaders in Residence: Amanda Webster

Amanda Webster from Harrison Drury Solicitors talks about what skills she thinks students need, and how UCLan's Leaders in Residence programme benefits students, businesses and the university.

Also hear from our Leader in Residence Mark Alexander from law firm BLM


The School of Law and Social Science has superb links with the law professions, police and probation services. Our students enjoy regular visits and talks from leading practitioners, academics, barristers, solicitors and judges. The teaching of our academics is enriched by their professional and research experience, which means your learning will be informed by real world and cutting-edge insights to best prepare you for your career.

Our students are valued highly by employers due to their aptitude and skills profile. They have an impressive track record of gaining graduate level jobs or professional training contracts. Some of our eminent alumni include judges, Queen’s Counsel, barristers and solicitors across the UK, Europe and around the world, CEOs, business leaders and industrialists, entrepreneurs and business owners, senior public servants such as civil servants, politicians, senior police and local government officers, senior academics and researchers at all levels, authors of many academic works, leading voluntary sector workers, board representatives and trustees.

360° virtual tour of the Moot Court Room


The GDL course is validated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board meaning this course is an equivalent alternative to a qualifying law degree route. The course is also approved by the Indian Bar Council.

For more information:

Admissions Tutor
Laura Walker

Tel: +44(0)1772 893078


Course Enquiries

Telephone us: +44(0)1772 892400
Email us or Book a visit

Important Information

This course is based in the School of Law and Social Science

Course Handbook

For detailed information about studying this course at UCLan, please see the course handbook for your year of entry: 2019 Entry | 2020 Entry
For information on possible changes to course information, see our Essential and Important Course Information.

Tuition Fees & Finance

*Tuition Fees are per year unless otherwise stated.
For 2019/20 fees please refer to our fees page.

Further Information for students

You can find regulations and policies relating to student life at The University of Central Lancashire on our Student Contract page.

Entry Requirements

For changes to 2017 UCAS tariff entry requirements please see our Essential and Important Course Information. UCLan requires all undergraduate applicants to have a minimum attainment of five GCSEs at grade C and above, or equivalent, (including Maths and English). In 2017 and beyond we will view the new Grade 4 as being equivalent to a C grade and will therefore require students to achieve GCSE Grade 4 or above. However, if the subject is relevant to our degree programme and requires a higher GCSE grade (e.g. GCSE B grade), and/or includes a Professional body that governs the entry requirements, Grade 5 or above may be required.