Graduate Diploma in Law

Graduate Diploma in Law

Start date: September
Duration: 1 year full-time (FT)
Course code: LAWT73

Grace Newbold

The result is a law qualification from a renowned university that many firms see as favourable to a standard law undergraduate degree.


Studying the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at Sheffield combines the academic skills found in a traditional postgraduate course with transferable skills essential for those seeking a career in the legal profession, and 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.

Why choose our Graduate Diploma in Law?

  • Unique - Sheffield is the only Russell Group University in England to offer both the GDL and the LPC.
  • Expert - teaching is designed and delivered by a mixture of traditional academic lecturers, qualified solicitors and staff from other professional backgrounds.
  • Support - a personal tutor provides individual support throughout your studies.
  • Focus – smaller class sizes than some other providers, which allows for a more personal experience.
  • Practical – opportunities to hone your practical legal skills and boost your CV through our pro bono scheme, workshops, client interviewing contests and participation in international and national mooting.
  • Alumni discount - 10% fee discount for self-financing Sheffield alumni.

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 hours required each week for study equate approximately to working a full time job); 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.

Visit us

Find out more about the GDL, meet staff and students and tour our facilities at one of our open days.

Book a place

Course structure

Course structure

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.

Most of the modules are assessed by examination. For the legal research project you will be required to submit a 3000 word mini-dissertation.

Examinations are held in September, January and late May/early June.

The example course structure below is based on the 2018-19 academic year and may be subject to change in future years.

Semester 1

Students will study the following core modules:

Module Title

Module Code

English Legal System


Contract Law


Torts Law




Public Law


Semester 2

Students will study the following core modules:

Module Title

Module Code

Land Law


Legal Research Methods


Equity and Trusts


EU Law


Company Law


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Our campus and how we use it:
We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.

Course team

Director of this course

Photo of Kate Campbell-PillingKate Campbell-Pilling

After qualifying as a Solicitor in 1999, Kate went on to work in private practice specialising in commercial property law. Her experience includes acting for sellers, buyers and lenders in both freehold and long leasehold transactions and acting for landlords and tenants in commercial leasehold transactions, dealing with a variety of properties including high street shops, shopping centre units, industrial units, offices, commercial buildings and development land.  Kate has also dealt with residential plot sales. She teaches on the Graduate Diploma in Law, the Legal Practice Course, and various undergraduate programmes.

Kate is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

View profile


Successful completion of the GDL satisfies the academic stage of your legal training and allows you to progress on to the vocational stage, either the Legal Practice Course or the Bar Professional Training Course.

Following the LPC or BPTC, a period of compulsory work-based learning is required before qualifying as a solicitor or barrister; either pupillage in a barristers’ chambers or a training contract with a solicitors’ firm.

Graduates from the GDL also have the option to move on to work in the legal profession in some other capacity immediately after their studies, and look to qualify at a later date. A small number of students use the course to access Masters courses that require a background in law.

Whatever career path you choose, we have an in-house academic Employability Lead for the School who provides targeted careers support for students taking the course.

Further information on careers and employability

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

You can look up fees for postgraduate courses here.

You can find further information on tuition fees for both UK/EU and overseas students here.

International students

Studying for your course at the University of Sheffield offers you a world-class high-quality qualification and excellent value for money. One of the great advantages of studying at the University of Sheffield is that your money will go further in our city.

Living costs, tuition fees and more

Postgraduate taught course tuition fee deposits

If you are an International applicant and have accepted a place on a taught postgraduate course, the University of Sheffield will ask you to pay a deposit towards your course tuition fee. By paying a tuition fee deposit you will indicate that you are definitely going to take up your place. 

Tuition fee deposits

Home or overseas tuition fee status?

In common with other UK universities, the University of Sheffield charges different fees dependent on whether students are classed as Home or Overseas for tuition fee purposes. The decision to class a student as a Home or an Overseas student is determined by government legislation as set out in the Education (Fees and Awards) Regulations 2007. The regulations governing the fee status of students can be found on the government legislation website.

Tuition fee status

Registration fee

Applications for the GDL must be made through the Law Central Applications Board. On completing the application you will be requested by the Law Central Applications Board to pay their registration fee. More information is available on the Law Central Applications Board website under 'Guidance Notes'.

Funding your study

Find out more about financial support, money management and additional support here.

Please note: as a diploma, the GDL does not currently qualify for the Postgraduate Masters Loan.

Other potential costs

Reassessment fees

If for any reason, you fail or are unable to complete an assessed piece of work which is a requirement to pass your course, you may be required to pay a reassessment fee. information about these fees can be found on the University's exam web pages.

Other fees

The Student Services Information Desk provides more information about other fees that may apply.

Please be aware that this information can be subject to change if there is a change in policy.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

All applications are considered on an individual basis based on academic ability, taking into account your academic record and experience.

If you are studying your undergraduate degree, you can apply for postgraduate courses at any time with your predicted results. We may make you a conditional offer.

For all Graduate Diploma in Law applications you must meet the following criteria:

  • Have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) in any subject.

  • In certain circumstances we may consider candidates who do not meet these minimum requirements.

  • In addition, if you wish to become a barrister, you should have been granted a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board.

English language requirements:

Our minimum English requirement is:

  • IELTS 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 in each component or for alternative English language requirements please see here

  • Please note that the IELTS test must have been completed within the two years preceding the start of the course.

Please note:
We are continually reviewing our courses and reserve the right to discontinue or amend course programmes/entry requirements.

Applicants with disabilities or dyslexia

We welcome disabled students and are committed to responding effectively and appropriately to individual support needs. We take all practicable steps to ensure that students with disabilities can participate in their studies without disadvantage, and can make full use of the university's academic and support services.

Information for Disabled Applicants

How to apply

Application process

You should apply for the Graduate Diploma in Law via the Law Central Applications Board.

Please visit their website for information on applying, guidance notes and an application form.

If you have any further questions about studying at Sheffield, please contact our admissions team.

Application deadline

There is no institutional deadline for the submission of applications for postgraduate taught courses. However, if you’re not going to be able to start your studies on time, you may be asked to defer to the following academic year so please allow plenty of time to make your application. Remember, if you are successful, there are other arrangements to be made before coming to university.

Places are limited. Therefore we recommend submitting your application early to avoid disappointment.