Postgraduate Diploma in Law - PGDL/CPE
- Level: Postgraduate Taught
- Starting: September 2021
- Study mode: Full Time, Part Time
- Location: City Centre
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
Looking for a law conversion course in Birmingham? Our Postgraduate Diploma in Law is open to graduates from all subjects.
The PGDL is an ideal stepping stone into either a full-time law career or advanced legal study. If you do not have an LLB Law degree awarded by a university of England and Wales, completing this course enables you to go on to professional training as a barrister or a solicitor.
LLM Professional Law
If you are interested in achieving your PGDL before going on to a full Masters level qualification, our LLM Professional Law course will allow you do to both. Our LLM course could also potentially qualify you for postgraduate funding.
Upon completion of the PGDL, you are eligible to undertake the Bar Professional Training Course if you want to qualify as a barrister, or the Legal Practice Course if you want to qualify as a solicitor. If you do not intend to qualify as a solicitor or barrister, the PGDL can also be a stepping stone into further advanced legal study.
What's covered in the course?
We have an established record of providing this course and have excellent links with Birmingham Law Society and professional practice in the area. We also have a successful LPC course, which our PGDL students can progress to. Our innovative approach to legal education is demonstrated by our very successful American legal placement scheme and our active Student Mooting Society.
PGDL courses at all institutions necessarily have a degree of similarity in content and assessment. However, the PGDL at Birmingham City University focuses on supporting you to develop relevant legal skills as well as knowledge content and at the same time offers you a unique opportunity to apply for our US internship scheme.
We have active student-led Legal and Mooting Societies. Our Student Mooting Society is one of the most successful in England. Our students have reached numerous finals and semi-finals in the past few years and have regularly beaten teams from some of the country’s most prestigious universities. In the past 10 years, we have beaten eight of the elite Russell Group of universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Leicester and Warwick.
With excellent links with Birmingham Law Society and professional practices in the area, this course provides you with the attributes and knowledge you will need to progress in the law field.
By choosing to study this course, you will be part of the School of Law, providing you with a wide range of activities and opportunities to gain valuable experience.
You will be part of a friendly and inclusive learning environment, with regular access to friendly and supportive tutors, ensuring your individual study needs are met. You will be taught through face-to-face workshops, with opportunities for formative assessment and supported by online materials.
The course is aligned to the Joint Academic Stage Board, which represents the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board of England and Wales.
Why Choose Us?
- By being part of the School of Law, you’ll have the option to take part in a number of extracurricular activities, as well as being able to take advantage of the School’s close relationships with Citizens Advice Bureau, and Birmingham and Coventry Law Centres.
- The School has strong professional links with the Birmingham Law Society, the UK’s largest law society outside of London.
- Our courses are held in the University’s newest facility, The Curzon Building, ideally located on our City Centre Campus and containing a range of excellent resources.
- Our Law Clinic can give you opportunities to volunteer with local charitable legal advice providers and to work alongside legal professionals undertaking pro-bono work, allowing you to make a genuine difference to the lives of Birmingham residents.
- You’ll be able to take advantage of the School’s cutting-edge facilities, including two mock courtrooms that can be used to bring study to life.
- You’ll receive proactive and attentive tutor support, ensuring you get the best out of your studies. Our team of staff have extensive experience, providing you with relevant and in-depth knowledge and information.
Find out more
Attending one of our Open Days is a great way to find out more about the courses we offer and get answers to any questions you might have. Our next postgraduate Open Day is taking place on Wednesday 9 June.
This course is open to International students
Discover the School of Law
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
New £11,222 postgraduate loans
You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £11,222 available for postgraduate study.
|Typical Offers (UK Students)|
Minimum Second Class UK degree or international equivalent in any subject area.
Additional information for EU/International students
Applications from international applicants with equivalent qualifications are welcome. Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.
In additional to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.
|English language requirements 2017/18|
6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.
|Other accepted qualifications||Visit our English language page|
Note: Part time study is unavailable for international students who are tier 4 visa holders.
Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- Part Time
- 2 years
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
Access to computer equipment
You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.
You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.
All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.
Access to Microsoft Office 365
Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites and available through our library.
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
Free access to LinkedIn Learning, which offers over 5,000 in-depth and bite-sized courses.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
Some modules may suggest that you purchase a key textbook. All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. Many students choose to purchase a copy.
Placement expenses (optional)
If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.
Field trips (optional)
This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience.
You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.
You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.
Accommodation and living costs
The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.
Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Your passion and motivations
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Why this course?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Relevant academic or work experience
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
There may be additional costs associated with purchasing text books. If you are joining the course which has a professional body accreditation you may be required to pay membership or examination costs. For details of these costs, please click on the link below.
Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
Find out more about possible financial support during your studies.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
The module will provide a comprehensive overview of common criminal offences against persons, property offences and defences under English law, as largely prescribed by domestic statutes and common law (case law). Through this overview, you will develop crucial practical skills, namely how to effectively undertake research, interpret and analyse sources of law and apply those findings to solve problems.
The module aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the law of contract (introducing you to the ways in which the law regulates, polices and enforces contracts) and the law of tort (focused on the more common tortious wrongs, associated defences and remedies) in English law.
This module will explore the UK constitutional framework including sources of law, institutions, and key constitutional principles. It will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the UK constitutional institutions involved in the legislative process, including accountability mechanisms.
The module aims to provide you with an intellectually stimulating and practice-led, knowledge-applied education in both land law (the law of property as it relates to land) and equity and the law of trusts. The module will provide you with a sound basis of the knowledge needed in order for you to apply the legal concepts and principals involved in property law to typical legal problems from land law and trust law practice.
The aim of this module is to introduce you to the concept of the European Union as an organisation and, more particularly, to provide you with an intellectually stimulating and academically rigorous education in how the organisation of this body and the regulation that comes from it affects the UK.
This module enables you to pursue a detailed study of a particular topic within a field of law or jurisprudence (the theory or principles behind the law) that is of particular interest to you where the School of Law has expertise. The module accommodates the specific requirement of the professional bodies of one other area of legal study, in addition to the study of the seven foundations of legal knowledge which must be successfully completed by anyone wanting to proceed to the next stage of training for entry into the legal profession.
The module accommodates the requirement of the Joint Academic Standards Board, comprising the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority and Bar Standards Board, for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the fundamental doctrines and principles which underpin the law of England and Wales.
For the first part of the course, you will learn primarily through a focus on problem-based learning supported by face-to-face teaching sessions and directed learning exercises provided through the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle).
In this first part of the course you will learn about how to study law and how to present legal argument, as well as the key substantive legal rules and principles relating to certain ‘foundation’ areas of law. For those who have enrolled for the LLM version of the course, the Masters stage of the course enables you to further develop your legal knowledge, research, presentation and analysis skills either in relation to a particular theoretical topic of interest to you or in the context of a practical placement.
Teaching sessions and directed learning exercises will be designed to help develop the skills and techniques needed to successfully complete the module assessments, and to forge a successful career in the legal sector. Engagement with teaching sessions and materials on the VLE is monitored by teaching staff to encourage engagement and provide a basis for individual and group feedback.
There are a range of assessments on the course, including oral assessment, written coursework, portfolios, employer assessment, reflective essays and more traditional exams. The range of assessments has been designed to ensure achievement of the course learning outcomes and the development of skills that we view as essential for a future successful career in practice or the further study of law, while retaining balance to ease assessment pressure points.
For more information on attendance requirements, course contact time and suggested self-study hours, download the course specification.
Trips and visits
Our Student Mooting Society is one of the most successful in England. Our students successfully enter mooting teams in a variety of prestigious national mooting competitions including:
- The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting
- Oxford University Press
- English Speaking Union
- Inner Temple Inter-Varsity Competition
They organise a range of internal mooting and social activities throughout the academic year, including the School of Law Internal Mooting Competition.
In the past, Law students have visited The Supreme Court in London, as well as the UN in Brussels.
Our American Legal Practice module provides you with the opportunity to undertake an internship in the United States (subject to an application process), where you could gain work experience in a law office, innocence project or judge’s chambers. The placement also requires you to fund your travel and living costs.
Upon completion of the PGDL, there are a range of courses you could then study to further increase your knowledge and employability. Options for further study at our University include:
- LLM Professional Law
- LLM Human Rights
- LLM International Business Law
Campus Tours - Postgraduate
Didn't make it to an Open Day? You still have the opportunity to come and see what our postgraduate courses have to offer. If you would like to enquire about campus tour availability, just drop us an email.
Student stories Darren Middleton
I chose to study at Birmingham City University as it offered me the chance to obtain the qualifications that I wanted at a competitive price. They gave me the opportunity to achieve my qualifying law degree in the form of the Graduate Diploma in Law / Common Professional Examination (GDL/CPE) and go on to do the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which I am currently studying, so that I am able to become a lawyer.
The staff on the GDL/CPE are so enthusiastic, approachable and knowledgeable about their subject areas. For the vast majority of my time in the School of Law, I have benefited from small class sizes and strong contact with tutors.
Previous students have gone on to successful careers in the legal professions. We have recent ex-students currently working as solicitors at regional law firms such as Duncan Lewis, Syeds Law Office Solicitors and Wragge & Co, as well as national and international firms, such as and at national and international firms such as DLA Piper. We also have ex-students who have qualified as barristers and one who is a QC.
We also have a number of students who have used the course to further their own business or current career paths and those who have entered non-legal professions (such as banking).
Our PGDL includes several ways you can help improve your employability:
- Graduate Plus Scheme
- US internship (within an optional module)
- Pro bono projects that provide voluntary legal work experience opportunities and networking opportunities
- Parliament and Supreme Court trip
- Legal careers sessions and networking events
- Debating and Mooting societies
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Student stories - Julian B. Knowles QC
After completing the Common Professional Qualification (CPE) - now known as the Graduate Diploma in Law - in 1993, Julian B Knowles has built a distinguished career as a barrister specialising in criminal law and human rights law.
Making the move to London after graduation, he spent a year at the Inns Court School of Law and went on to spend time as a pupil barrister, before commencing practice in 1995.
Making his mark early, he won his first House of Lords case after being in practice for less than a year. No stranger to working on cases attracting global media attention, he went on to successfully defend General Pinochet and Siôn Jenkins, and he is also part of a team of counsel that has fought against the death penalty around the world.
There is an opportunity to undertake a valuable placement while studying this course, giving you the chance to gain first-hand experience and put knowledge into practice.
Graduate Darren Middleton undertook a summer internship, arranged through the School of Law’s American Legal Practice programme.
“I worked at the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic (DPLC) in Kansas City, Missouri. The DPLC is a law firm dedicated to the defence of persons sentenced to death row. I studied the GDL as a mature student, and although the course was intensive, as students we all worked together and the staff are extremely approachable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable.”
The School of Law at Birmingham City University is home to students from a wide number of countries studying on traditional degree programmes and short-term international courses both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
A legal education at Birmingham City University is widely recognised and many of our international students return to their home country to either pursue legal practice or requisite professional qualifications in their jurisdiction.
As a law student you will not only develop and refine knowledge in discrete areas of English and international law but also develop key transferable skills designed to enhance your employability profile. Many international students have travelled thousands of miles to study at Birmingham City University and the School offers you an engaging and diverse study experience based in the city of Birmingham which is the second largest city in the UK.
Due to our proximity close to the legal and business district of the city we enjoy strong links with Birmingham Law Society and law firms around the West Midlands. The benefit of these links is passed directly onto you so that you can enhance your network of contacts whilst seeking relevant legal practice experience to enhance your employability profile.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
- Explore some of the good reasons why you should study here
- Find out how to improve your language skills before starting your studies
- Find all the information relevant to applicants from your country
- Learn where to find financial support for your studies
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.
The Curzon Building
This course is based at the City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building, alongside other Law, Business, Social Sciences and English courses
The £63m building offers students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.
The facilities at the Curzon building include two bespoke Law Courtrooms, replicating a Crown court and a Magistrates court. These rooms will play a key part in your learning experience, allowing you to try your hand in mock court cases, whilst also being the venue for our Mooting and Debating Societies.
On top of this, the Curzon building houses an extensive Law library, with books covering every aspect of Law history.
The Curzon Building also features:
- An impressive new library with access to over 65 million full text items and stunning views of Eastside City Park
- Your Students’ Union which is located in a beautifully restored 19th century pub, The Eagle and Ball
- A modern 300-seat food court with space to study and socialise
- Brand new, accessible IT facilities with full Office365 for all students for free
- Shared facilities with the wider campus including the Parkside Building and Millennium Point
Helen Munro qualified as a Solicitor in 1999, working in private practice until 2006, at which time she decided to pursue a career in education and training and moved to work for BPP. She worked until 2016 as a course leader and taught on the LPC, GDL, QLTS, LLB and on professional development and professional skills courses.