Graduate Diploma in Law

  1. Duration:
    1yr Full-time
  2. Typical offer:
  3. We are accepting applications for a September 2019 start from 1st October 2018

Course Overview

We are accepting applications for a September 2019 start from 1st October 2018.
The start date for 2019 will be Tuesday 10th of September.

Swansea University’s 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-related employment. The GDL is designed to provide the legal knowledge necessary to satisfy the academic requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and the Institute of Legal Executives.

Key Features

  • 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 and the acquisition of legal skills.
  • The foundation subjects of Contract, Tort, Public Law, Equity & Trusts, Land Law, Criminal Law, and European Union 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.


Disclaimer: Module selection options may change.


The Swansea GDL is a full-time, 36-week intensive course, commencing 10th September 2019. 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 further information).

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

How To Apply

All applications must be made through the Central Applications Board (CAB) on-line.

Please note that applicants should NOT wait until they have obtained a Certificate of Academic Standing before making an application. We may be able to offer a conditional place in the interim. 

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU International
Full-time £7,500 £11,700

Fees for full time Undergraduate UK/EU students may be increased in subsequent years of study by an inflationary amount determined by Welsh Government.

Fees for full time Undergraduate International students will increase by 3% for each subsequent year of study.

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 Bursaries

A £500 bursary is available to graduates of Swansea University.


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:

Law future careers

Further information on the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law Employability initiatives can be found here.

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 Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law offers 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 website.

Information on Swansea University Careers and Employability Service can be found here

Non-standard Qualifications

Those with overseas degrees:

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

On receipt of your application, Swansea University will assess the 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.
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 the Bar Standards Board.

Additional language requirements:

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 here.

GDL Fees - Instalments

Fees can be paid in four instalments:

Course fee instalment dates 2019/2020

25% - at enrolment (Less  deposit)

25% - November 2019

25% - January 2020

25% - April 2020

Meet our Students

Alex Lewis

Alex Lewis

After gaining a degree in Economics, I decided I wanted to be a criminal defence solicitor, but have ended up on a completely different path after studying the GDL, followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Swansea University. 

Studying two subject areas has given me a huge advantage in the job market and made me exceptionally employable, as I can combine my economics skills with legal knowledge.

After finishing my studies, I travelled to Western Australia and worked for the Iron Ore Mining industry, where I negotiated, drafted and disputed high end construction contracts, including an Iron Ore Mine in the Pilbara Desert valued at $10 Billion Dollars.

I moved back to London and worked for nationwide building services contractor TClarke, consulting on the finance and contracts for the 22 Bishopsgate project, formerly known as the Pinnacle; which will be the tallest skyscraper in the City.

I’ve just been bitten by the travelling bug again, and taken up a position in Fort St John, Canada, providing consulting on a new hydro-electric dam.

To say that taking the GDL was life-changing is an understatement. I’ve found my niche and it has opened some incredible doors for me around the world. It’s never too late to change your mind!