Graduate Diploma Law (part-time)

Entry year
Course code
Bristol Law School
Two years
Part-time block release - 11 study days in 5 blocks plus assessment days as required
Programme leader
Threasa Stratton

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Please note that new student recruitment to this course has been suspended for the September 2020. Applications for 2021 should be made from September 2020.

Page last updated 16 July 2020


Recent surveys conducted by Bristol Law School found 86% of our students rated the teaching on the GDL as either 'very good' or 'good' - with many saying they particularly appreciated the practical experience of the tutors and level of support given on the course.

If you are a non-law graduate looking to enter the legal profession, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) provides your starting point for graduate legal study. It takes you through the academic stage required to become a barrister or solicitor, before you then go on to either the LLM in Advanced Legal Practice (LPC LLM) or LLM Bar Training Course.

The GDL at UWE Bristol is highly regarded by both branches of the profession, and many solicitors and barristers choose this route, building on the knowledge they have obtained in another academic field to establish a successful legal career.

The part-time course provides exactly the same level of training as the full-time GDL, but runs over two years instead of one.

The legal grounding you need

As the first stage of your legal learning, the GDL takes you through the basics of law in England and Wales and introduces you to legal reasoning, methods and research. As well as this, you will learn how to apply your legal knowledge to the real world, giving you practical insights and skills to take into your vocational training.

Practical, practitioner-led training

The GDL is taught by a dedicated team of solicitors and barristers, who have all practised for many years, and bring their experience to bear on the course with plenty of examples, practical advice and face-to-face support.

Outstanding facilities and opportunities

You will also have access to an impressive range of facilities in our Professional Law Centre, as well as the chance to hear from expert legal speakers and take part in our placement scheme. Our aim is to provide as much realism as possible and to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to move confidently along the path towards becoming qualified.

Hear more about what it's like to study law at UWE Bristol and watch films about Sarah's and Sophie's experiences.

We hold various events and taster sessions throughout the year.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



The part-time course is structured into two teaching blocks (each of which is studied over a year) and covers the seven foundations of legal knowledge, as identified by the professional legal bodies. An independent research project then enables you to cover another area of legal study in depth.

All modules studied during the GDL are compulsory and represent the aspects of law that are most relevant in legal practice. You will study four modules each year.

The modules are divided across the two years as follows:

Pre-course preparation

English Legal System - provides you with a basic understanding of the legal system in England and Wales and covers the legal terminology, reasoning and methods that you will practise and develop throughout the course.

Year one

  • Public Law - introduces you to the constitution of England and Wales and the theoretical principles that underlie it, as well as the judicial review process and how we use the law to protect human rights.
  • Obligations I (Contract Law) - takes you through the area of contract law and what is involved in forming and enforcing contracts.
  • Obligations II (Law of Tort) - introduces you to tortious liability, in other words how we can enforce obligations to avoid harm being caused to our neighbours.
  • Criminal Law - provides an introduction to criminal law, particularly the underlying policy issues and the difference between theory and practice.

Year two

  • Equity and Trusts - introduces you to equity and trust law, including defining what a trust is and looking at the relevance of trusts today.  
  • Property Law - explores land as an area of law, the rights and obligations associated with it, and how to transfer land from one party to another.
  • European Union Law - provides you with an understanding of what constitutes European Union law, how it works and how we take account of EU law within domestic law in England and Wales.
  • Independent Research Project - you will also study a research topic of your choice in depth (out of a range of subjects of current topical interest) and write a 4,000-5,000 word mini dissertation.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Highly experienced and supportive tutors, drawn from legal practice, as well as the academic side of law, will enable you to develop your knowledge quickly.

Each topic will be based on an introductory large group session and then a smaller group seminar. Both the large group session and seminars are highly interactive, and are designed to give you a deeper understanding of the material covered, and how it can be applied to practical contexts.

You will research and discuss real cases and legislation, based on current developments in law, giving you a valuable insight into situations you are likely to face in your legal career.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

We recognise that a number of students have considerable demands on their time and that a part-time, flexible mode of study may be more beneficial.

On the part-time course, you will attend an introductory two or three-day session at the beginning of each year, and then attend ten tuition days between October and May in both years. These sessions will be held on Thursdays and Fridays. You will need to prepare for these sessions in your own time. You will also need to attend some assessment days.  

Dedicated support

We aim to offer you the highest level of support both during your studies and after you graduate. You will be allocated a personal tutor, who you can meet with, or contact by phone or email, to discuss all aspects of the course and receive one-to-one career guidance. You will also have access to our dedicated law careers member of staff, 'ask the experts' careers events, CV writing clinics and mock pupillage interviews.


As is required by the professional regulatory bodies, the main form of assessment for the GDL is through examinations, which are held at the end of each year of the course. Some modules also include a coursework element of 25%.

The Independent Research Project will be assessed through your 4,000-5,000 word mini dissertation, which you will write in response to your allocated research task.

Practice questions with feedback will be given to help you monitor and improve your performance, and help you deal effectively with all forms of assessment.  Two past examination papers will also be available in order to prepare you for examinations.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

The GDL satisfies the requirement of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), showing that you have successfully completed the academic stage of your legal training.

Study facilities

Bristol Law School has excellent, state-of-the-art facilities, including:

  • dedicated postgraduate study and common rooms
  • mock law courtrooms, with equipment to record advocacy sessions for later analysis
  • a 24-hour law library and computer rooms, giving you access to a wide range of legal resources, including Hein Online, LexisNexis, Westlaw and iLaw
  • an online learning environment.

A £50m project is also underway to build the new Faculty of Business and Law building. Located in the heart of the campus, the building will provide innovative teaching spaces, including two showcase law courts, flexible social learning spaces and an external business engagement space.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.

Pro Bono Unit

The UWE Bristol Law Court Clinic provides opportunities for you to undertake legal pro bono work in and around Bristol in all areas of law. This includes providing advice and representation on family cases, including cases of domestic violence; and working with community groups.

Legal Placement Scheme

We also run a legal placement scheme in conjunction with the Bristol Law Society. As a GDL student, this gives you the opportunity to undertake a short placement with a law firm or the legal department of a large business. All the major legal firms in Bristol take part, and it is an opportunity to enhance your CV and to try out different areas of law, perhaps opening your mind to areas you had not considered practising before.


Careers / Further study

Studying for the GDL is a stepping stone in achieving a successful career as a solicitor or barrister. Many students who complete the GDL go on to study the LLM in Advanced Legal Practice (LPC LLM) or LLM Bar Training Course to achieve these career ambitions.

Watch Sarah's story and find out how studying the GDL and LPC have helped her land her training contract with leading law firm TLT.


Supplementary fee information

See our funding pages for more information.


Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have one of the following:

  • A non-law bachelor's degree, or
  • A 'stale' law degree, where seven or more years have elapsed since graduation, or
  • An academic or professional qualification at degree equivalent level.

English Language Requirement

If English is not your first language, you will also need to demonstrate your English Language proficiency. For exampe, you should have IELTS 7.5 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all components.

See further details of our English Language requirements

How to apply

For Home students: you are required to pay £350 deposit within 30 days of your offer, and no later than the 1 August, to secure your place. 

If you are an Overseas student we will send you more specific details about the deposit needed as a part of your Visa application. You can make arrangements to pay your deposit and/or fees.

Read more about postgraduate applications

For further information

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