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Applying for a Graduate Diploma in Law


The GDL (also known as CPE) is for UK and overseas applicants with a degree in any subject (including those with a non-qualifying UK law degree or a non-UK law degree), wishing to take their first steps into law by obtaining a conversion course in UK law.

It is an intensive course built around the core curriculum and assessment requirements of a qualifying law degree. It aims to condense the knowledge and skills acquired in a graduate course which can bring non-law graduates up to the same standard as law graduates before they go onto the vocational stage of qualifying as a solicitor or as a barrister.

The GDL course can also be extended in duration to satisfy the requirements of a MA. Such courses are available on LawCAB.

After completing the GDL, those wanting to qualify as a solicitor can go on to do the Legal Practice Course, and those wanting to qualify as a barrister, a Bar training course.

From September 2021, however, a new route to qualification as a solicitor - the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) - will be launched and so if you want to do a GDL/CPE in 2021 with a view to qualifying as a solicitor through the LPC route, you must have accepted an offer on or before 31 August 2021 for a course which starts any time before 31 December 2021. If you choose to do this, you will have the choice of continuing to qualify under the LPC route or through the new SQE route. The SRA's website contains further information about the transitional arrangements. If you intend to qualify through the LPC route, you have until 31 December 2032 to do so altbough bear in mind that course providers may choose to stop offering the LPC sooner than this.

To read more about which route may be best for you, see 'Should I choose to qualify under the GDL/LPC or SQE route?' in the FAQs section.


If you want to do a validated GDL which starts after 31 December 2021 for academic year 2021/22, and want to go on to do an LPC, you must have originally:

  • accepted an offer to start in academic year 2020/21 and deferred your place (which must be confirmed as a deferred place by the university); or

  • started or accepted an offer to start a training contract (PRT) before 1 September 2021.

If you fall within either of these categories, you can start your GDL any time in academic year 2021/22 up to 31 August 2022.

Please note that if you are intending to go on to do the LPC, it is vital you keep evidence of your deferral, either by way of a letter from the university confirming that you had accepted a place for 2020/21 and have deferred your place or confirmation from your training provider that you have accepted an offer or a training contract before 1 September 2021.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible to apply for a GDL course that starts before 31 December 2021, you must

  1. have a UK degree (usually a 2:2 or above) in any discipline or equivalent qualification, or
  2. be an overseas graduate who has had your degree award verified by UK ENIC, and
  3. have a good command of both spoken and written English

If you are a mature non-graduate applicant - please refer to websites below for further information on becoming a solicitor or barrister:

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
Bar Standards Board (BSB)

Please note:

Overseas graduates wishing to qualify as a barrister should apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (BSB) before beginning a GDL course.