Graduate Diploma in Law (Common Professional Examination)

Time for a career change? Law is an exciting and rewarding profession. Use a non-legal degree to fast-track your legal qualifications.

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Our Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is a conversion course. If you have a non-law undergraduate degree it can help you gain your first legal qualification quickly. In just one year you’ll lay down the foundations you need to forge a legal career.

There’s a strong focus on developing your practical legal skills. We’ll also help you develop the fundamental legal knowledge you’ll need to work in the sector. 

It’s a great introduction to law and a stepping stone to further legal qualifications, such as the Legal Practice Course to become a solicitor or the Bar Professional Training Course to become a barrister.


Legal knowledge

You’ll cover core areas of law, including criminal, public and land law. There are also specific units to develop your practical skills, in particular mooting. 

Many of our team are practising legal professionals and understand what’s needed to succeed in the field. We have experts in various areas of the law who will share their passion and enthusiasm with you.


Supporting your studies 

You’ll have plenty of support from your tutors during this course. There are high levels of face-to-face teaching and an open-door policy for advice and academic support.

Features and Benefits

  • Fast-track legal qualification – convert your existing non-law undergraduate degree into a legal qualification in one year. It’s also suitable if you have extensive work experience but no formal qualifications.
  • Law School experience – study surrounded by other law students and supported by an expert teaching team. Join the Law Society for networking, guest lectures and social events.
  • Thriving legal hub – Manchester has a dynamic legal sector. We have close links with the Northern Circuit and our courses are well respected by national law firms.
  • Pro bono work – put your legal skills and knowledge to the test by volunteering with our partners. Gain valuable experience before starting work.
  • Mooting opportunities – we are a leading centre for mooting and advocacy in the UK. Join the Mooting Society to participate in regular debates and competitions.
  • Legal experts – learn from experienced professionals and get your legal education off to the best start. They know what it takes to succeed.
  • Top legal facilities – make use of our 24-hour library, mock courtroom and dedicated careers and employability hub.
  • Ready for work – you’ll develop the professional skills you need to forge a career in law. Your previous education and experience will add an extra dimension to your CV.
"The GDL course is geared towards being a practitioner, with hands-on teaching about how to apply law, which goes far beyond simply understanding it." Minos Christodoulou, GDL graduate.

“Our GDL programme not only gives students an excellent academic education, but we also encourage students to develop core legal skills such as advocacy and problem solving through participations in our award-winning Mooting Society.”

Siobhan Leonard, GDL Programme Director.

Career Prospects

The GDL has a very practical focus. From day one you’ll be encouraged to think and behave like a legal professional. That makes it easier to transition to a legal role once you complete your course.

This is the first step towards developing a legal career. After your GDL you’ll be ready to study for the Legal Practice Course to become a solicitor, or the Bar Professional Training Course to become a barrister.

If you’re interested in academic research in law you can explore the options for masters-level study, such as the LLM.

Our links to the Northern Circuit give you the opportunity to make professional connections before you graduate.

The GDL can also complement career development in other areas, such as policing, criminology and the public sector.

Learn more about graduate careers


of graduates go straight into employment or further study within six months of graduating.

DLHE survey 2017, for all respondents available for employment or further study and whose destinations are known.

Entry requirements

You should have an honours degree from the UK or the ROI. International students with a degree are eligible to apply as long as equivalence to a UK/ROI honours degree is demonstrated.

International applicants or students without a degree but with work experience should contact for further details on entry requirements. Due to the popularity of the GDL, preference is usually given to higher classifications.

International students, please visit or contact


“Studying law at Manchester Metropolitan University is a great choice. We are situated in the heart of the city of Manchester, the second largest legal centre in the UK…”
Listen to what Jackie Panter, Associate Head, has to say about studying at Manchester Metropolitan University…

Course details

Our Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is a conversion course that lets you chart a future in law – whether you have an undergraduate degree in another subject area, or you’ve spent your career in a different profession.

In just a year (or two, if you’re studying part time) you can build the knowledge and skills to achieve a qualification, preparing for a career in a range of legal professions. While you’ll learn about the fundamentals of law, it’s also a course with a focus on skills. So it’s not just about the theory, but about the practice of law too.

Before you even begin the course in September, we’ll send you an induction pack, which includes a link to our online revision and self-testing resources. With the induction programme, you’ll be able to start off by building a solid understanding of the English legal system, together with an introduction to essential legal research techniques and the law-related IT systems we offer at Manchester Law School

Once you’ve completed your induction, you’ll be ready to explore the seven foundations of legal knowledge, from contract and criminal law to equities and trusts. With these core units, you’ll not only develop the understanding that’s fundamental for anyone working in law, but also lay the foundation for any future training, like working to become a solicitor or barrister.

Having learned the knowledge, you’ll have a chance to bridge the gap between academic studies and professional practice. With our Legal Skills and Practice unit, you’ll discover the realities of applying the law to practical scenarios. You’ll analyse issues, conduct legal research and develop your problem-solving skills. And, in our mock courtroom, you’ll be able to hone your skills in a realistic environment.

As part of Manchester Law School, you’ll also find a range of opportunities to go further with your studies. We have a busy programme of guest lectures and events where you can connect with legal professionals. There’s a Mooting and Advocacy Society, where you can compete and put your skills to the test. And, with our various pro bono schemes, you can learn real-world professional skills while making a real difference in the community.

If you’re new to law, our GDL course provides the best first step. With a solid grounding in fundamental knowledge and vital practical skills, it opens up a range of possibilities and career paths in the legal profession.

You’ll study eight core units for the GDL – with one unit covering each of the seven foundations of legal knowledge, plus a unit designed to offer an introduction into Legal Skills and Practice.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Contract Law

This unit considers the legal principles relevant to the formation and continuing validity of binding contracts and develops the legal skills of legal research, application and problem solving. This unit aims to equip you with the knowledge and understanding of the main principles and concepts of Contract law.

Criminal Law

Criminal law seeks to enable you to gain an understanding of the key components of the subject. This includes general principles of criminal liability, offences against the person and property and general defences to criminal liability.

Equity and Trusts

Equity and Trusts Law encompasses many areas of law and in practice can provide solutions to otherwise insuperable problems. A grasp of the applicable concepts and principles is essential to an effective understanding of other areas of law.

Law of the European Union

The law of European Union unit covers both the principal institutional and substantive aspects of the law. The institutions of the E.U., the preliminary rulings procedure, primacy of E.U., actions before national courts and the enforcement of E.U. law, direct actions before the Court of Justice and judicial review, the free movement of persons, citizenship of the E.U., the free movement of goods and E.U. social policy.

Land Law

This unit considers the legal principles that underpin land and property law. The unit aims to equip you with knowledge and understanding of these principles in order to analyse a factual scenario and provide advice to a notional client. It will also help students to develop legal research skills and the ability to undertake critical analysis of the law. The syllabus will include the following topics: the land registration system, rights of occupiers, mortgages, adverse possession, easements and other rights, freehold covenants, co-ownership and leases.

Legal Skills and Practice

This unit introduces English Legal System/Legal Method and professional legal skills including analysis, problem solving and legal research. You independently research evidence/procedure/ethics. The aim is to introduce and test your knowledge of the English Legal System (ELS) and allow exposure to an additional field of law, which is practically applied with assessment via a moot (courtroom presentation).

Public Law

This unit concerns the law relating to the practice of government and the rights of individuals against the state. The unit includes study of the constitutional impact of E.U. membership and the European Court of Human Rights. The unit is intended to provide awareness of the law concerning the process of government, the institutions of government and the nature of the UK Constitution. Additionally, the unit provides an understanding of the rights of individuals against the state and an appreciation of the legal remedies available to an aggrieved citizen.

Law of Torts

The unit studies the meaning, nature, functions and ramifications of the law of torts. The syllabus covers diverse topics including all forms of trespass to the person and associated torts; negligence and its special application to economic loss and psychiatric injury; Occupiers' Liability; Product Liability; defamation; Nuisance; Liability under the Rule in Rylands v Fletcher; Causing Loss by Unlawful Means and Employers Liability.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A Masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


Additional information about this course

Professional regulators in the legal sector are currently conducting an extensive consultation about legal education and training. This includes review about the routes and qualifications to become a barrister or solicitor. The current route of a qualifying law degree (QLD) or the GDL and the BPTC to become a barrister will remain in place until summer 2019. The current route of a QLD and LPC to become a solicitor will remain in place until summer 2020.

Placement options

As part of Manchester Law School, our GDL students have the opportunity to get involved in voluntary work through the Pro Bono Network. Working with one of our partners to provide free expertise to people in need means having the chance to build real skills and relevant experience.

There are a range of different routes for pro bono work, working on projects with local, national and international partners. It could be working on a legal advice line or advising start-ups in our Business Law Café, or it might be supporting caseworkers for the homeless or even working on death row cases in the USA. It can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. While you make a difference for your CV, you’ll also make a difference to people’s lives. 

Manchester Law School

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1157 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £12,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £1500 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Part-time students may take a maximum of 90 credits each academic year.

Additional costs

Specialist Costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service although many students choose to buy a laptop. However, students are advised that is good practice to purchase a core text book for each of the seven compulsory modules on the GDL. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £350 for books and printing.

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

Find out more

Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

Learn more

Want to know more?

How to apply

Full-time course applications should be made to the Central Applications Board:

Part-time course applications:

You will need to download and complete the application form and email it to:

Download the GDL Part-time Guidance Notes here


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
The Manchester Metropolitan University is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the independent regulator of higher education in England. More information on the role of the OfS and its regulatory framework can be found at

All higher education providers registered with the OfS must have a student protection plan in place. The student protection plan sets out what students can expect to happen should a course, campus, or institution close. Access our current Student Protection Plan.