Graduate Diploma in Law / Common Professional Examination Distance Learning (GDL / CPE)

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About this course 2019/20

Northumbria’s GDL is taught using a practical, student-focused approach providing a solid grounding in the major areas of law. It covers the foundations of legal knowledge which are taught my means of lectures, group sessions and seminars. Students are provided with comprehensive study materials, textbooks and step-by-step workbooks to support their studies.

At the beginning of the programme students are required to study the English Legal System by means of a pre-attendance package and induction programme.

In addition, students must study the following seven subjects, which are stipulated by the professional bodies as being the foundations of legal knowledge:

  • Contract Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • European Union Law
  • Property Law
  • Public Law
  • Law of Tort

All students are required to undertake research into a further area of law. Past options have included Company Law, Commercial Law, Employment Law, Family Law, Evidence and Legal History among others. Students receive initial guidance on the subject and advice on how to conduct legal research.

The distance learning programme is ideally suited for those in employment or with family commitments. Students are required to attend 12 study days per academic year for two years. The study days (9am - 6pm) are grouped in six pairs, normally a Wednesday and Thursday, which fall approximately every six weeks during September, October, December, February, March and May. Timetables are issued in advance of each set of study days. It is recommended that students allow 15 - 20 hours per week for independent study. Each subject has a detailed study guide, textbook and a weekly study schedule which together, set out what work is required in advance of the study days. 

Solicitors Regulation Authority

Studying law? Or thinking of studying law?

Thinking of becoming a solicitor?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced it will be introducing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The earliest date for introduction is September 2020.

This will be a national assessment for anyone who wants to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It will provide a fair and consistent assessment for all candidates regardless of whether they have taken a law degree or qualified through new routes like the solicitor apprenticeship.

If you have already started your law degree or an exempting law degree, or will do so before the SQE is introduced, you will be able to finish and qualify in the same way as before or qualify under the new system.

Under the current system you must complete both the academic and vocational stages of training as well as meeting the character and suitability requirements to become a solicitor. The academic stage is achieved by either a) a qualifying law degree or b) a non law degree in a different subject and completing the Common Professional Examination. The vocational stage comprises:

  • the Legal Practice Course
  • a two year period of recognised training
  • the Professional Skills Course

So what will qualifying look like for solicitors after 2020?

  • having a degree or equivalent 
  • two stages of the SQE assessment
  • having a two year period of work experience
  • meeting the character and suitability requirements to become a solicitor

The SRA will be providing information and guidance about how to qualify in the new system so keep checking its website.

Watch the SRA's video here 

Please note that although an undergraduate qualification is required for access to the Graduate Law Degree (GDL), the programme is an undergraduate award and adheres to the University’s undergraduate regulations and procedures.  Students who apply for the GDL are not eligible for the postgraduate scholarship scheme but on completion of this programme those who progress to the LPC or BPTC at Northumbria will qualify for the scholarship at that stage.

Course info

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 2 years distance learning

Department Northumbria Law School

Location Law and NBS Building, City Campus East

City Newcastle

Start August 2020

Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience find out about our distinctive approach at 
www.northumbria.ac.uk/exp

Terms and Conditions - northumbria.ac.uk/terms
Fees and Funding - northumbria.ac.uk/fees
Admissions Policy - northumbria.ac.uk/adpolicy