Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the University of Sheffield

The GDL is a one year full-time postgraduate programme that allows you to "convert" to law if you wish to enter the legal profession in England and Wales. The GDL is also known as the Common Professional Exam.

Successful completion of this programme will lead on to the next stage of professional legal training; the Legal Practice Course or the Bar Professional Training Course.

The GDL runs from mid-September to the middle of June and covers all subjects required by the relevant professional bodies. In addition to core requirements, you will also study the English Legal System and enhance your skills and understanding through a legal research project. Human Rights and Restitution are studied within their respective contexts and are integral to the teaching of several modules. The course includes the study of Company Law, which is not a component of every GDL, but which we believe to be an essential foundational element of the understanding of the law of England and Wales. Examinations are held in September, January and late May/early June.

You will need to prepare for challenging and intensive study; the reward will bring you a step closer to a career as a barrister or solicitor. We’ll help you by providing you with directed pre-reading on the English Legal System, modules in preparation for your research project, a personal academic tutor, and expert legal careers guidance. You’ll also join a prestigious School of Law with an excellent reputation and modern facilities.

Why choose the Graduate Diploma in Law?Photo of GDL students studying

  • The course teaches the academic skills found in a traditional postgraduate course, as well as the vocational skills taught in other GDL programmes.
  • We are the only prestigious research-led university in England to offer both the GDL and the LPC, allowing consistency for students who wish to follow this route to become a solicitor.
  • Completing the GDL at Sheffield will qualify you for the 10% LPC fee discount.
  • We have an on-site Careers Adviser who provides targeted support for GDL students.
  • Our pass rate for 2012-13 was 88%, with 46% gaining commendations.

Meet the team

You will be taught by a mixture of traditional academic lecturers and staff from other professional backgrounds.

Find out more about our academics teaching on the course

Teaching and assessment

The course is delivered over an intensive 9 month period. There is approximately 35 hours of pre-reading given out before the start of the course, and there is an exam at the end of week two. There are very few traditional lectures, with most of the course being delivered via screencast.

All modules are assessed by examinations, all of which are split into three parts; multiple choice, one problem question and one essay question. For the legal research project you will be required to submit a 3000 word mini-dissertation.

Find out more about the course structure

Focus on your future

The GDL is typically used by graduates from disciplines outside of law to access the LPC to become a solicitor, or the Bar Professional Training Course to become a barrister.

A small number of students use the GDL to access Masters courses that require a background in law.

Whatever career path you choose, we have a dedicated Careers Adviser based in the School of Law who provides targeted careers support for students taking the GDL.

What are our graduates doing?

Many of our graduates have moved on into fantastic careers and further study; read what they thought about the Graduate Diploma in Law and what they are doing now.

What our graduates say

Entry requirements

You must be a graduate (with at least a high 2:2 or equivalent) and, if you wish to become a barrister, should have been granted a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board. If your first language is not English we require a qualification in English, currently IELTS 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 in each component.