Graduate Diploma in Law

Graduate Diploma in Law

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

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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.
  • Succeed - our pass rate for 2014-15 was 90%, with 53% gaining at least a Commendation grade.
  • 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.

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

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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.

Semester 1

Students will study:

Module Title

Module Code

English Legal System


Contract Law


Torts Law




Public Law


Semester 2

Students will study:

Module Title

Module Code

Land Law


Legal Research Methods


Equity and Trusts


EU Law


Company Law


We continually review our courses and reserve the right to discontinue or amend programmes/entry requirements. Course structures may be subject to change in future years. Content of our courses is reviewed annually to ensure it’s up-to-date. 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.

Course team

Director of this course

Photo of Mike LambarthMike Lambarth

After some time spent in the world of banking, Mike qualified as a solicitor and as a chartered tax advisor. He practised corporate tax law at a commercial practice in Leeds and latterly with one of the leading accountancy firms. This involved advising on tax issues arising from large corporate and commercial property transactions, and advising clients in litigious tax matters. He teaches on the Graduate Diploma in Law, the Legal Practice Course, and various undergraduate courses.

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Teaching team

Julia Belshaw

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Gareth Bramley

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Andrew Callaghan

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Kate Campbell-Pilling

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Rachel Cooper

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Clare Firth

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Paula Hatton

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Michael Jefferson

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Pauline Laidlaw

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Peter Odell

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Sarah Robson-Burrell

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Katie Steiner

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Dr Francesca Strumia

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Joseph Tomlinson

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Dr Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis

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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 a dedicated Careers Adviser based in the School of Law who provides targeted careers support for students taking the course.

Further information on careers and employability

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.

How to apply

For information on the application process and funding, please select the 'How to apply' tab above.

If you need any further information, please contact us.

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.

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.

Funding and Scholarships

We are pleased to be able to offer a 10% discount on the course fees to students of any discipline who have graduated from The University of Sheffield. Please note only self-financing students qualify for this discount. More information about Sheffield's Postgraduate Alumni Rewards.

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

If you are an international student, you can find out about the scholarships available to you. This information is provided by our International Office: Scholarships for International Applicants

For information on further funding opportunities, please visit the Postgraduate Student Funding Table