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  1. Graduate Diploma in Law
    1. 2016
    2. 2017

Graduate Diploma in Law

Gain a solid foundation in law and fast track your career on this transformative Graduate Diploma. Start your future in law here.

Key Information

Start date

September 2016


Full-time: one year


Full-time: £10,500


Full-time: £10,500

Who is it for?

Students come from leading institutions across the world and from a range of undergraduate disciplines including history, economics, English, and policy, philosophy and economics. Students often know whether they want to become a barrister or work as a solicitor when they arrive, but some students use the programme as a means to make that decision. A significant proportion of our GDL students go on to become barristers.


The City Law School’s Graduate Diploma in Law programme is nationally renowned. Since its inception in 1977, it has trained students at an extremely rigorous level, covering the seven core foundation subjects that are prerequisites for progression to professional legal training.

The programme is unique in that it introduces students to legal ethics as well as covering the core content. Students are encouraged to think about their reasons for practising law, and how they will find value in practice. The course has also been designed to be accessible and student-focused; at The City Law School we welcome students’ questions and offer significant one-to-one support.

From Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, to Dinah Rose, the QC Barrister who helped Julian Assange fight his extradition from the UK to Sweden, our alumni set the benchmark for legal practice across the world. Our academic team is also globally renowned and includes Professor Panos Koutrakos, the Jean Monnet Professor of European Law and Joint Editor ofEuropean Law Review, and Professor Martin Dixon, Specialist in Land Law from Queens’ College Cambridge.

"The law requires intellect. Without the ability to draw fine distinctions and to persuade others that you are correctly drawing them, you cannot function as a lawyer.”

Course Director, Dr David Herling


Solicitors Regulation Authority logoBar Standards Board logo

The seven modules are prescribed by two external bodies which have jurisdiction over the course - the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board.

Requirements and how to apply

Entry requirements

A degree (in any subject), of at least an upper second class honours standard, conferred by a institution in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland or by the Council for National Academic Awards. Or, an approved degree conferred by a institution 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 six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

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

For more information see our main Visa page.

How to apply

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 visit Law Cabs.

The GDL programme is now in its 39th year and was the first of its kind in the country.
Small tutorial groups mean you learn within a focused environment.
Alumni include Dinah Rose QC and Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty.


Explore up-to-date information about funding options, available financial support and typical living costs.

More about funding

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 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:

Student views

Find out about the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course from one of our former students

Tom Alkin, Alumnus and Barrister at 11 South Square said: “I’ve always been very grateful for the extremely intense but extremely effective nine months of education which you and your staff gave me. It was, quite literally, life changing.”

Academic facilities

As a City Law School student you will benefit from everything City has to offer including the Learning Success department and Lawbore, an online resource designed to help you find the information you need for the course modules.

The City Law School has its own dedicated administration team and you also have access to two legal libraries, one at the Gray’s Inn campus and the other based on site at our Northampton Square campus.

Within the Gray’s Inn library you will find rooms for group study sessions and rooms for recording demo advocacy sessions.

As part of the University of London you can also become a member of Senate House Library for free with your student ID card.

Learn a language for free

We offer a free language course for City, University of London students.

Find out how to apply

Teaching and learning

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 institutions, 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 City's Graduate Diploma in Law upon successful completion of coursework and examinations.


As a student at City, University of 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.


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 you 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:

  • (LD3002): Contract law (30 credits)
  • (LD3003): Criminal Law (30 credits)
  • (LD3004): Equity and trusts (30 credits)
  • (LD3005): European Union law (30 credits)
  • (LD3006): Land law (30 credits)
  • (LD3001): Public law (30 credits)
  • (LD3007): Tort law (30 credits).

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

You will also take a 10 credit English Legal System module and a five Credit Research Requirement module.

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

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

96% of graduates in employment or further study six months after completing the course

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 visit Law Cabs.

Contact details

Request a prospectus

Find out more about City and all our postgraduate degree programmes.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.