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Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)  GDL


First developed in 1977, this nationally-renowned course was one of the first of the Common Professional Examination courses (now known as the Graduate Diploma in Law) for non-law graduates wishing to start training for a career in law. The GDL allows students to gain a good foundation in law and fast-track their legal career. Students benefit from the expertise of academic staff at The City Law School, as well as that of leading visiting lecturers and speakers from the legal profession.

The GDL at City covers the seven core foundation subjects that are prerequisites for taking the professional examinations. The introduction to the Legal Ethics module, which is unique to City, also allows you to reflect on the ethical challenges that you might encounter as a lawyer in practice.

The GDL at City has an unrivalled reputation within the profession for the quality of the teaching, the ability of its students and the preparation it provides for students seeking pupillage or a training contract. Successful completion of this course qualifies students to progress to one of the two professional courses that all UK lawyers are required to take: the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for solicitors and the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for barristers.

Throughout the year we hold regular career events for aspiring solicitors and barristers. At these events, you have the opportunity to network with representatives from a range of leading firms and chambers.

Why the City Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)?

  • Gain a good foundation in law by studying on one of the first CPE/GDL courses for non-law graduates.
  • Benefit from the expertise of our own prestigious lecturers and leading visiting lecturers from the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.
  • Enhance your legal knowledge with our Legal Ethics module, unique to City.
  • Satisfy the requirements for the Professional Stage of legal training (LPC / BPTC).
  • Fast track your legal career at dedicated law careers events for solicitors and barristers.
  • Work towards an LLB honours degree (GDL students who obtain a Commendation are eligible to undertake City's one-year LLB (Hons) by Conversion course).

Course Fees:

  • Full-time EU: £10,500
  • Full-time Non EU: £10,500

Start Date:

September 2016

How to Apply

Entry Requirements

A degree (in any subject), of at least an upper second class honours standard, conferred by a university in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland or by the Council for National Academic Awards. Or, an approved degree conferred by a university outside the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and a very good knowledge of the English language.

The rules governing admission to practise law vary from country to country. Before applying, applicants wishing to take  the GDL as a step towards becoming a lawyer outside England and Wales are strongly advised to check with the appropriate body in the country in which they wish to qualify/practise that these courses are accepted.

In reaching our selection decisions we will take account of:

  • Academic performance
  • Evidence of intellectual ability
  • Professional and legal work experience
  • Personal statement
  • Commitment to studying law
  • References

English Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English should hold the following qualifications:

  • IELTS: 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in all other components

Please note that due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.

Visa Requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.  

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than 6 months
  • Students on courses of less than 6 months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English Language course

Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

When and Where

Start Date:
September 2016
1 year

Course Content

In just one year, you will study the seven core foundation subjects that you would cover during a qualifying undergraduate law degree. The academic programme and examinations are of first degree level and will involve work that is normally studied by undergraduates over at least 18 months. A strong emphasis is placed on growing your analytical and research skills to ensure you are fully prepared for practice.

Course Structure

The GDL allows students to cover the core material of an undergraduate law degree, together with some postgraduate level study, in one year. We place a strong emphasis on growing analytical and research skills to ensure graduates are fully prepared for practice.

The foundation subjects studied are:

  • Contract law
  • Crime
  • Equity and trusts
  • European Union law
  • Land law
  • Public law
  • Tort law

In addition to the foundation subjects, students take another academic law subject unique to City: Introduction to legal ethics. This subject directs students' attention towards the ethical challenges which lawyers might face in practice and to the values which characterise the profession.

Students have the option to convert their GDL to an LLB degree by taking further law modules

Teaching and Assessment


The seven foundation subjects are taught over one year by lectures and tutorials which occupy around 18 hours each week. Every week you will attend a two-hour lecture in six of the seven foundation subjects (Contract lectures are in an online format) and a tutorial in each subject every fortnight.

In addition to The City Law School's own lecturers, you will also be taught by visiting lecturers from other prestigious universities, including Cambridge and Oxford. There will also be time for personal study to prepare for lectures and tutorials. Instruction in the use of legal materials and in legal research methods (including use of electronic retrieval systems) is also an integral part of the course, including The City Law School's award-winning Lawbore


Formal assessment is based on written examinations held at the end of the course; formative coursework given throughout the year will help to prepare you for these examinations. You will be awarded the University's Graduate Diploma in Law upon successful completion of coursework and examinations.


As a student at City University London you will have unlimited access to the City's Careers, Student Development & Outreach service where dedicated careers advisors will provide you with tailored advice about your career.

Our strong links with the profession means that we can bring the world of law to you. Throughout the year we organise a variety of events, which give you access to representatives from leading solicitors firms and chambers.

Mooting is a great way to develop important legal skills such as research and analysis whilst also learning how to structure a legal argument. At The City Law School we run an annual internal mooting competition where students act as a counsel to argue a point of law before a judge.

Pro Bono is an opportunity to use your time and knowledge to provide legal advice to those who may otherwise not have access to such services. It provides you with invaluable experience and a chance to develop your legal skills further. At The City Law School you will have the opportunity to volunteer to work with one of our Pro Bono volunteering organisations that needs legal assistance.


  • Full-time EU: £10,500
  • Full-time Non EU: £10,500


For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.

See our range scholarships, prizes and loans that can help you pay for your course.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit City Finance website.

Disclosure for US students

As part of US Loan regulations, City University are required to give Gainful Employment disclosures as part of our contract with the US Department of Education. Please refer to the following document for more information:

Career Prospects

Successful completion of the Graduate Diploma in Law qualifies you to progress onto the Legal Practice Course if you intend to become a solicitor or the Bar Professional Training Course if you intend to become a barrister. City Law School GDL graduates are guaranteed a place on our Legal Practice Course and are strongly encouraged to apply for our Bar Professional Training Course (Please note: The Bar Standards Board does not allow providers to guarantee places on this course).

As a holder of University's Graduate Diploma in Law you can obtain an LLB degree at City by taking additional course modules by part-time study.

Applications should be made online through the Central Applications Board

Applications can be made from early November each year.

To apply online and for more information