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Graduate Diploma Law – Common Professional Examination

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  • Objectives
    The course will be open to graduates who do not hold a qualifying degree in Law, but who wish to become solicitors or barristers. The course is designed to satisfy the academic stage of professional legal education. The overall aim is to provide the students with an intensive legal education which, taking into account their transferable postgraduate skills and expertise, will maintain the standard of academic work and examination provided on the first degree programme. Accordingly, it is intended that the Diploma will provide non-law graduates with a further and valuable academic qualification as well as offering an alternative method of completing the Professional Bodies’ academic stage of training. The course is also intended to offer a recognised qualification even for those who do not ultimately enter the legal profession.
  • Entry requirements
    The course is open to graduates who do not hold a qualifying degree in Law, and it constitutes a conversion course to bring students to the same level as law graduates for the purposes of professional qualification to practice law. It is not at postgraduate Masters level, and is therefore a Graduate Diploma. The principal criterion for admission is the applicant’s academic profile. Evidence of academic ability to at least a second class honours degree will normally be required. Other factors which may be taken into account include evidence of commitment to the profession, personal circumstances and links with the local area. Overseas applications are welcomed. However, those wishing to practice in an overseas jurisdiction should enquire of the authorities in that jurisdiction whether the CPE qualification is recognised as satisfying the academic stage. International students whose first language is not English must have IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.
  • Academic Title
    Graduate Diploma Law – Common Professional Examination
  • Course description

    The CPE (Common Professional Examination) Graduate Diploma course is designed to enable non-law graduates to reach the same level as law graduates for the purposes of professional qualification to practice law. It fulfils the requirements of the Law Society for the

    academic stage of qualification. Students on the CPE course have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, with first degrees from institutions all around the country and from abroad. A second class degree or equivalent is a minimum requirement for entry. Higher degrees or additional qualifications are advantageous, as is work experience. Work within a commercial or legal environment, or voluntary work with an organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, can be helpful and relevant. CPE students who pass the course are guaranteed a place to study for the LPC (Legal Practice Course) at one of the sites offered by the College of Law or at Staffordshire University.

    Keele Law School takes about twenty full-time students on this course each year, and a smaller number of part-time students. The CPE is a lively and cohesive group within the School, taught in lectures and in separate small group tutorials. We are a relatively small School, known for a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in which graduate students receive individual attention. A review by external assessors remarked on the ‘collegial culture’ of a School where the free exchange of ideas was expected and supported.

    The School is very highly rated for research (we scored the highest possible grading of 5A* in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise). Our research strengths lie in interdisciplinary and contextual approaches to the study of law, as well as in doctrinal legal research, and so Keele is an excellent environment for graduate students to undertake an intensive Law conversion course of this sort. Our aim is to build upon your existing graduate skills, and to develop them in the exciting study of Law.

    Course Structure and Content

    The full-time diploma will consist of a 7 module course of 140 credits, spanning 36 weeks. Attendance is based on a four day timetable. The part-time diploma consists of the same modules but spans two years and attendance based on approximately two and a half days a week. Within these modules all the ‘core subjects’ will be extensively covered.

    The English Legal System and Legal Method module will comprise a four week intensive introduction to the legal system and is taught during September for both full and part-time students. This module is devised so as to cater for the needs of non-law graduates and to provide an essential background to legal studies.

    Course Modules

    Lecture classes are taken alongside undergraduates, but all tutorial classes and the pre-semester course are CPE small group only. All modules are level 3 – credits in brackets.

    Pre-Semester Course

    • English Legal System and Legal Method (10)

    (24 teaching contact hours plus library exercises, guided court visits, visits to law firms and chambers and careers sessions.)

    Other Modules

    CPE Criminal Law (20)
    CPE Public Law (20)
    CPE EU Law (15)
    CPE Obligations (30)
    CPE Property Law (30)
    CPE Research Training, Interviewing & Advocacy (15)


    The pass mark for the Graduate Diploma is 40%. Most modules are assessed on the basis of examinations at the end of the second semester which contribute 70% and coursework set during the first semester which contributes 30% of the overall mark for each module. The assessed coursework takes the form of an essay, problem or project. The pre-semester English Legal System and Legal Method module is assessed by a one hour examination at the end of September. The Research Training module is assessed by a 3,000 word research project.

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