The first weekend gives an introduction to English Legal Method. There is a pass/fail written exercise for English Legal Method to be completed at home following this weekend. All students must pass this test, however, it is formative and does not count toward the final aggregate. There is also teaching on the four core modules at the first weekend.
The remaining three weekends have sessions on the four core subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law; Contract Law; European Union Law and Law of Tort, which are also taught at the first weekend.
Four weekends covering three core subjects:
* Criminal Law
* Land Law
* Law of Equity and Trusts at all weekends
In addition students are required to cover an area of law that goes beyond the core syllabus. This is achieved during year two when students complete an individual Research Project of 4,500 to 5,000 words.
The distance learning GDL is a two year course. There are four weekend schools in each year, attendance at which is compulsory (subject to medical or other emergencies). Residential weekends usually take place in October, December, February and March/April.
The course covers the seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge required by The Law Society.
How do you study?
Learning seven new subjects from scratch is an arduous process and the way in which it is taught inevitably assists or hinders that process. The course design at Nottingham combines a variety of teaching methods.
* Lectures: distance learners are provided with all the materials they will require to assist their study.
* Tutorials: tutorial contact takes place at all four weekend schools, attendance at which is compulsory. The emphasis on small group work (and sub-group work) enables us to offer a student-centred approach to learning, with exercises designed to encourage student activity rather than passive listening. Students get the benefits of individual tuition and those of group support.
* Coursework: there is continuous assessment by course work which tests the ability of students to analyse, research and persuade as well as reinforcing the understanding of topics. The coursework element of the seven core modules accounts for 30% of the mark for each subject. The research project in year two accounts for 9% of the overall mark.
* End of year exams, testing individual subjects: 70% of the mark of each of the seven taught modules.
* Oral Skills: lawyers obviously need good debating and mooting skills. These are required informally throughout the course in tutorials.
Each subject is assessed individually, by coursework (throughout the year) and exam (at the end of the year).
Resources and facilities
Attendance is compulsory at the four residential weekends per year. Teaching is normally held at the city site of Nottingham Trent University, and utilises all the facilities available to full-time students, including a well-stocked library with electronic access.
The course is two years by distance learning. A one year full-time route is also available.
Students who have previously studied law may be eligible for exemptions, and direct entry to year two of the distance learning course. In this situation enquirers should contact the Solicitors' Regulation Authority or Bar Standards Board for clarification.
The course is accredited by the SRA and Bar Standards Board and is the recognised CPE route into law for non-law graduates.
Students who successfully pass the GDL and stay at Nottingham Law School to study and complete either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Vocational Course (BVC), will automatically be awarded an LLB. Students who do not wish to progress onto the LPC or BVC can still obtain an LLB by studying four additional modules on the LLB distance learning course.
Your future career
Although a career in the law is potentially very rewarding, you should be under no illusions that the current market is anything other than highly competitive. However, some firms will prefer you to be a non-law undergraduate because of your broader knowledge base from previous studies/qualifications; your maturity and commitment; your practical, relevant, well-rounded legal knowledge gained by studying the core subjects in context on the GDL.
As most city and larger provincial firms recruit two years in advance, it is worth writing to them now in order to see if they will offer you a work placement or an interview. Some will pay your fees if they offer you a training contract. Obtaining some form of work experience is important in showing your interest to potential employers and for finding out what a career in law is really like!
Nottingham Law School has a specialist Careers Service which is available to GDL, LPC and BVC students. Careers talks will be given at weekends in the UK. All enrolled students will have access to Careers information via their Virtual Learning Portal.