School of Law, Criminology and Government

GradDip Law

Are you aiming to be a solicitor or barrister but don’t have a law degree? Take our fast-track route for non-law graduates or those with older law degrees. This intensive postgraduate conversion programme is designed to get you up to speed with the essential knowledge and skills of academic law so you can advance your studies and begin your career in the legal profession.

You will meet practising lawyers during the early stages of the course through Plymouth Law School’s established connections with the solicitors profession and the Bar in Devon and Cornwall. You’ll have the opportunity to gain valuable experience with clients, employers and agencies through our well-established Law Clinic.

Key features

  • Meet practising lawyers during the early stages of the course through Plymouth Law School’s established connections with the solicitors profession and the Bar in Devon and Cornwall.
  • Learn your practice while making a difference to real clients with work experience placements supported by our well-connected Law Clinic
  • Benefit from working with a faculty of highly qualified law and criminal justice staff who provide a great mix of research-informed and practice-led teaching. 
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of the key foundation areas of law (public law, EU law, law of contract, law of tort, criminal law, land law and equity and trusts), and in an additional area of law of your choosing.
  • Get to grips with the workings of the English legal system.
  • Gain the key skills needed to become a lawyer, such as legal research, problem solving and critical judgement.
  • Acquire the ability to construct and present an argument using legal materials, and be able to evaluate the merits of multiple perspectives.
  • Take part in a range of competitions and social activities as a member of our highly successful, student-run Student Law Society. You’ll get the opportunity to network with high-profile guest speakers and prospective employers.
  • Deepen your understanding and insight through a sophisticated array of online resources.
  • Learn valuable transferable skills. Potential employers will value your maturity, high level of motivation, expertise in another discipline and, in some cases, successful work experience.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • This intensive programme lasts 36 weeks and qualifies you to go on to take either the Legal Practice Course (to train to become a solicitor) or the Bar Vocational Course (to train to become a barrister/ being called to the Bar).

    While the legal authorities prescribe the taught modules you’ll study, your knowledge of other areas will allow you to bring a fresh perspective to the final research project you’ll undertake in terms two and three. This can be in an area of your choice and must be based outside the foundation subjects.

    Assessment is by examination in all of the foundation subjects. Before starting the course you’ll study the Introduction to Law and Practice Foundation Course (20 credits – level 4). This introductory module is assessed by an in-class test, and a piece of coursework. 

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

Graduate Diploma in Law programme specification 3237

Entry requirements

You must have at least a second class honours degree or equivalent from a UK (or Irish) university or a Certificate of Academic Standing issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Bar Council. The degree will normally be in a subject other than law, although the programme is also suited to you if you have studied law but not obtained a qualifying law degree, or if your qualifying law degree is out of date.

If you don’t have an English Language qualification and obtain a Certificate of Academic Standing, you’ll be required to achieve an overall IELTS score of 6.5 (with a minimum of of 5.5 in listening, reading, speaking and writing).

English language requirements


If you’ve studied law before it’s possible that you may be entitled to exemption from part or all of the GDL, but still be able to complete the academic stage of training as far as the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Bar Council are concerned. If you’ve studied four or more foundations of legal knowledge in recent years it’s worth contacting the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Bar Council to discuss exemptions. They make decisions on any exemptions but we’d be happy to offer advice and assistance in the process of seeking exemption. Exemptions must be obtained and confirmed before commencing the GDL.

Find all of the important documentation you'll need when applying for this programme.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New student 2017 2018
Home/EU £5,000 £6,500
International £11,000 £14,000
Full time fees shown are per annum. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.      

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

How to apply

As this programme is part of the clearing house system administered by the Central Applications Board (CAB), you’ll need to submit your application directly to the board. You can apply to this programme online via the Central Applications Board website or request an application form by writing to:

Graduate Diploma in Law

Central Applications Board,

PO Box 84,

Guildford, Surrey,


Please remember to mark ‘Plymouth’ as your preference on the application form.

Join our postgraduate student community

Postgraduate study can help you realise your ambitions and develop your potential as a manager and leader of the future. Whether you come to us as a newly qualified graduate or after a successful track record in industry we provide high quality, professionally accredited postgraduate programmes, and PhD and professional doctorate supervision.  

Find out more in the essential guide to everything you need to know about life as a student at Plymouth University

Student success stories

As well as benefitting from excellent teaching and unrivalled opportunities to learn in the workplace, becoming a Plymouth law student also means you can join one of the most active societies of its kind in the country.

Find out more about the Plymouth Student Law Society

Student insight – John Pain

There’s a real feeling that the staff want to see their students reach their potential. The more you put in the more you get out, and I found that most lecturers were more than happy to match your effort and enthusiasm.

John Pain, GradDip Law and Legal Practice Course graduate

Learn more about John's experience of Plymouth University


Do you see yourself working as a barrister or taking your legal skills into the business sector? Whatever your chosen path, we’ll work closely with you throughout your degree to help you set your career off in the right direction.

Find out more about career opportunities

Harry Perrin – Graduate Diploma in Law graduate

I found the lecturers very approachable, and keen to help the students do as well as they can: they are really in your corner.
Read Harry's profile

Alice Carter-Tyler: Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice

As well as providing me with the essential legal qualifications that I needed I was able to take part in plenty of key skill-building societies such as debating and negotiating.
Learn more about Alice

Student insight – Luke Fisher

I’d highly recommend the course to anyone interested in changing their career path. I now work at Woollcombe Yonge Law Firm as a Trainee Solicitor, where I’m able to constantly apply the knowledge and skills I gained in a real-life legal environment.

Luke Fisher, GradDip Law and Legal Practice Course graduate