Graduate Diploma in Law
The Graduate Diploma in Law GDL UK course is the new name for the Common Professional Exam, although the two are often still used interchangeably.
They both refer to the same course which is taken by graduates who did not take a law degree at university but who would like to become either a practicing solicitor or barrister. The GDL must be completed before you can enrol on the LPC or BPTC.
The GDL course covers seven fundamental areas of the English Legal System including;
1. The Law of Tort
2. Public or Constitutional Law
3. Land Law
4. European Union Law
5. Criminal Law
6. Equity and Trusts, and
7. Contract Law
As well as these seven core options, many GDL course providers offer further options such as international trade law or intellectual property law.
The nature of the exams is up to each training institution, therefore there are different forms of assessment. For example, BPP assesses through a mixture of examination modules, case analysis, statute analysis and coursework for each module. Aston Business School uses a closed book exam worth 70 per cent of your mark and a 3,000 word essay for the remaining 30 per cent.
Constitutional Law Module
Of all the modules offered in the GDL law course, constitutional law is one of the most dynamic, covering as it does recent developments such as the implementation of the Human Rights Act.
The exact syllabus covered will depend on the training institution chosen but typically covers the following areas;
• introduction to constitutional law
• the key defining features of the British constitution including the rule of law and the separation of powers
• constitutional pluralism
• the composition of the UK parliament and the workings of the electoral system
• the institutions of governance
• the sources of constitutional law
• reform of the House of Lords and the legislative process
• fundamental rights and civil liberties
• judicial review
• the Human Rights Act, and
• the European Convention on Human Rights
The main focus of the examination is up to the college itself, but a standard split in constitutional law exams involves three questions, one on judicial review, one on human rights law and one on constitutional law. To help you get an understanding of the paper, you should be provided with past papers as part of your study.
GDL Courses in England and Wales
There a number of providers of the GDL and a number of possible study options including full time, part time even GDL distance learning. For those who want a GDL London provider, there are several colleges including BPP Law, The College of Law, and Middlesex University. Nationwide there are BPP Law schools in several cities as well as universities which offer the course including Sheffield University and the University of Glamorgan in Wales.
The GDL is only run in England and Wales, as the Scottish legal system has different training paths. Full details of the colleges who have a GDL course can be found online, and each course supplier will detail the content of each module, both compulsory and optional, on their own websites.