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Graduate Diploma in Law-Common Professional Examination (GDL-CPE) (Postgraduate Diploma)

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  • Entry requirements
    Standard Entry Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in any subject from a UK or Republic of Ireland Higher Education Institution or a Certificate or Academic Standing from the Law Society or the Bar Council.
  • Academic Title
    Graduate Diploma in Law/Common Professional Examination (GDL/CPE) (Postgraduate Diploma)
  • Course description

    The Graduate Diploma in Law/Common Professional Examination provides the academic stage of legal education for non-law graduates who intend to become solicitors or barristers.

    Successful completion of the GDL/CPE qualifies the student to proceed to the vocational stage of training. Students who intend to become solicitors will need to complete the Legal Practice Course while those who intend to become barristers will need to complete the Bar Vocational Course. Both courses are available at Northumbria.
    What you will study
    During the programme students are required to study the English Legal System. This is taught at the beginning of both the full-time and distance learning course by means of the pre-attendance package and the induction programme.

    In addition, students must study the following seven subjects, which are stipulated by the professional bodies as being the foundations for legal knowledge:
    # Contract Law
    # Criminal Law
    # Equity and Trusts
    # European Union Law
    # Property Law
    # Public Law
    # Law of Tort

    Finally, all students are required to undertake study into a further area of law. The School of Law offers a range of optional choices. Options may vary, but usually include Company, Commercial, Employment and Family Law among other areas. Students are required to undertake research into an area of law culminating in a written submission and an oral presentation.


    Year 1 Modules

    LA0545 Contract Law [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    LA0546 Criminal Law [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    LA0547 EU Law [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    LA0548 Property Law [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    Year 2 Modules

    LA0544 Public Law [CPE FT, CPE PT] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    LA0549 Tort [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    LA0550 Trusts [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)

    LA0551 Further Area of Law [CPE FT, CPE DL] (CORE, 1 Credits)


    The distance learning programme requires students to attend for 12 study days per academic year and the programme lasts for 2 years. In addition, students receive detailed study guides in each of the foundation subjects.

    The syllabus for each of the foundation subjects is the same regardless of the study mode. Assessment is by a combination of coursework and unseen examination.

    Applicants who have previously studied four or more of the course subjects may obtain an exemption from those subjects. Application for such exemption should be made to the Law Society or Bar Council. Students with exemption pass the GDL upon successful completion of the required modules, but are not normally awarded the Diploma.

    The GDL/CPE is the first step for non-law graduates towards a rewarding career in law. It aims to provide an academically rigorous programme of legal education, and build a solid foundation upon which to develop both legal knowledge and competencies required for a subsequent career in legal practice.

    The Law School is renowned for providing excellent legal education and has a strong commitment to teaching and research. The School offers a wealth of facilities to students, such as a specialist law library, IT facilities exclusively for use by law students and authentic courtrooms, which are used on the vocational programmes.

    A Postgraduate Legal Training Prospectus and GDL/CPE information package is available upon request.

    Students successfully completing the GDL at Northumbria will be guaranteed a place on the Legal Practice Course and will be considered for a place on the Bar Vocational Course. In addition, a discount of £1000 will be available for those choosing to continue study at Northumbria on the LPC or BVC programmes.

    New for September 2008:

    The Graduate Diploma in Law/Common Professional Examination will be available via e-learning, making full use of IT advances. Structured in the same way as the distance learning route, the attendance requirement is reduced to a one week induction period at the beginning of year one and two with the option to attend study days should you wish.

    Applicants should complete a course specific application form available from the enquiries office listed on the right of this page.

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