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Graduate Diploma in Law/CPE

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  • Delivery:
    Part-Time, Full time according to Funding Council definitions

The Bournemouth University Graduate Diploma in Law/Common Professional Examination (GDL/CPE) is a one year (or two year part-time) course, intended primarily for non-law graduates planning to enter the legal profession.

This course is primarily aimed at non-law graduates from UK universities who are planning to enter the legal profession. If you do not have a UK or Irish undergraduate degree but do have relevant academic qualifications or significant vocational experience, you may also be eligible to join the course – contact us for more details.

Although it is fundamentally aimed at entry to the legal profession, it is a highly valued qualification in its own right and supports a wide range of career opportunities. The course is approved by both The Bar Council and the SRA. 

The course offers a learning environment with focused support and attention. The course is based around a small group which means you will benefit from individual time with our academic staff. The teaching team is made up of experienced academics whose education is informed by their professional qualifications and experience and by their research and publication interests. 

For September 2019 entry: In order to take advantage of new approaches to learning and teaching, as well as developments in industry to benefit our students we regularly review all of our courses.

This course is currently going through this process and we will update this page in September 2018 to give you full information about what we will be offering once the review process has concluded.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus or GTA University Centre, Guernsey for part-time


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in any subject, or equivalent. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

This course covers the foundations of legal knowledge required by The Law Society and The General Council of the Bar. It has eight taught units.

You'll have the opportunity to research and write a paper on a further area of law that interests you, and that you may wish to pursue in the future.

You can study this course full-time for one year or part-time for two years at our Talbot Campus, or part-time for two years at the GTA University Centre in Guernsey. 

Core units

  • Legal System, Process & Skills: Learn about the main characteristics of the English legal system and legal methodologies. Through building on previously gained transferable academic skills, the unit initiates work with legal sources, processes and reasoning and, in particular, legal research. You'll be placed in a position to become more effective in Stage 2 where research and other skills will be developed further. Another aim of this unit is to expose you to an area of law outside of those specified by the professional bodies as foundation subjects.
  • Law of Contract: This unit builds on the Legal System, Process and Skills unit, ensuring you can find legal sources and materials and apply the law to a range of formats. This unit links directly with the Land Law, European Union Law and the Law of Torts units. It's relevant to all areas of the course where you'll need a systematic and structured approach.
  • Law of Torts: Gain a sound understanding and appreciation of theories and principles of the Law of Torts.
  • Land Law: Develop your understanding of the foundations of Land Law.
  • Law of Trusts: This unit links with Land Law, especially on the division between legal and equitable ownership and in relation to trusts of land.
  • Constitutional & Administrative Law: After completing this unit, you'll be able to show an understanding of Constitutional and Administrative Law.
  • Criminal Law: Learn about the foundations of criminal liability with particular reference to the major offences.
  • European Union Law: Appreciate the European legal method, the relationship of European community law to the English legal system and particular areas of substantive law.
  • Another Area of Law: You'll take another unit covering another area of law.

Skipping individual units

If you've studied any of these areas of law before and want to apply to skip a unit, your application must be made with evidence before you start the course. We usually ask for transcripts, syllabus and unit specifications. We may also ask you to have a short telephone interview with the course leader.

To skip a unit, you'll need to apply to:

  • BU if you are considering the Legal Practice course or Solicitor route to legal qualification.
  • The Bar Standards Board if you are considering the BPTC or Barrister route to qualification.

The Bar Standards Board will not recognise any decisions we make about skipping units. If you are in any doubt about your future career path, you should make separate applications to the Bar Standards Board and BU.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for Graduate Diploma in Law/CPE.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background & experience

For the Graduate Diploma in Law we are looking for applicants who:

  • Are non-law graduates planning on entering the legal profession
  • Show commitment to their studies
  • Have previous experience of working to strict deadlines
  • Have excellent research skills.

Information on the type of applicant sought

This course will suit non-law graduates with a keen interest in law. You'll be looking to develop your legal knowledge in order to enter a legal profession or for career progression. We encourage applications from those with an appreciation of the legal system and enthusiasm to learn new skills.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their applications. Applicants who do not meet the minimum entry criteria may be invited to interview. We would encourage you to make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. For more information, take a look at our post graduate how to apply pages. 

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking on a postgraduate taught degree are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in any subject, or equivalent

  • Applicants without a UK or Republic of Ireland Honours degree must either have
  1. Equivalent overseas qualifications (involving at least 3 years full time study) or
  2. Meet the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority/ The Bar Standards Board for entry as a mature student or
  3. Equivalent academic or vocational qualifications that meet the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority/ The Bar Standards Board.

For further information on the entry requirements please see the following regulators' web pages:

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow. Some of these are based on experience. Contact our AskBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally: 

  • ​IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in each component of speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our international entry requirements page.


Some of our Graduate Diploma in Law Graduates are now undertaking roles such as:

  • Legal secretary
  • Paralegal
  • Translator
  • Associate director
  • Senior lawyer.

Some of the companies that our Graduate Diploma in Law Graduates are now working for are:

  • 3PB Barristers
  • Harold G Walker Solicitors
  • Court of Justice
  • Spoor & Fisher.

Industries worked In

  • Law
  • PR
  • Finance.

Further study

After completing this course, we will offer you a guaranteed place at BU on our Legal Practice Course (LPC). The LPC is the vocational stage of training for solicitors. If you're interested in qualifying as a barrister, you can seek advice on the Bar Vocational Course from barristers in the law team.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU pages.
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, (with or without attendance) you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Additional Information

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.