Postgraduate Diploma in Law - PGDL/CPE

Full Time, Part Time
September 2019
£5,400 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2019 entry (view all fees)

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.

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.

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.

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.

As well as strategic partnerships with respected legal firms such as Irwin Mitchell and Squire Patton Boggs, the School of Law also works closely with Birmingham Law Society and voluntary organisations in the legal sector such as local citizens advice bureau and the Legal Ombudsman based in Birmingham city centre.

What's covered in the course?

With excellent links with Birmingham Law Society and professional practices in the area, this course provides you with the attributes and knowledge you’ll need to progress in the law field.

By choosing to study this course, you’ll be part of the School of Law, providing you with a wide range of activities and opportunities to gain valuable experience. 

You’ll 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’ll be taught through face-to-face seminars, 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.
  • 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.

Law PG Lunches 2018 (Course Page Image) - Man addressing a room

Law Master’s Courses - drop-in sessions

Join us for lunch to find out more about our postgraduate Law degrees, and how you can either continue your studies to take you to the next level or become an expert in a new field.

This course is open to International students

*Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016

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.

*DLHE Survey 2016/17

Entry Requirements

UK students

Minimum Second Class UK degree or international equivalent in any subject area.

EU / International students
English language requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
Other accepted qualifications Visit our English language page

Note: Part time study is unavailable for international students who are tier 4 visa holders.

International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGDL/CPE Sep 2019 FT 1 year £5,400 per year Apply online now
PT 2 years £900 per module

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PGDL/CPE Sep 2019 FT 1 year £8,200 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Personal statement

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


Additional costs

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 additional costs for your course

Financial support

Find out more about possible financial support during your studies.

Financial support

Find out more about possible financial support during your studies.

PG Cert

Constitutional & Administrative Law
20 credits

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. You will explore UK administrative law which is concerned with review mechanisms which hold the Executive to account. You will also develop critical problem-solving skills by applying administrative law mechanisms to everyday problem scenarios.

Law of Obligations
20 credits

The Law of Obligations is a core module and covers two of the seven foundations of legal knowledge that must be successfully completed in order to proceed to the next stage of training for entry into the legal profession. 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 (focussed on the more common tortious wrongs, associated defences and remedies) in English law.

Criminal Law
20 credits

This 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.

PG Dip

Property Law
20 credits

Property Law is a core module and covers two of the seven foundations of legal knowledge that must be successfully completed in order to proceed to the next stage of training to qualify into the legal profession. 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 principles involved in property law to typical legal problems from land law and trust law practice.

Law of the European Union
20 credits

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 will be approached through a critical examination of the EU as an organisation, and key aspects of substantive law, as well as a critical appraisal of how they apply in the UK, in addition to a problem based approach to learning and assessment.

Option Modules
20 credits

Students will have the option of one of the following modules. They are both worth 20 credits each.

American Legal Placement

The aim of this module is for students to experience a fusion of law and practice in an international context. This module provides students with the opportunity (subject to an application process) to apply to study abroad by undertaking an internship in America.

The module provides you with an overview of the American criminal or civil justice process and an opportunity to apply that knowledge and develop key legal practice and research skills through undertaking an internship in the United States and classroom exercises designed out of ‘real life’ examples. As such, the module delivers the ultimate ‘practice-led and knowledge applied’ approach to learning.

Independent Research Project

This module enables you to pursue 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.

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.

Hours of study – Full-time students

During semesters one and two, you will usually be required to attend eight to twelve hours of face-to-face teaching sessions each week (spread over two days) and dedicate at least a further 32 additional hours to completion of directed learning tasks, background reading and preparation for the teaching sessions.

Hours of study – Part-time students

During semesters one and two, you will usually be required to attend four to six hours of face-to-face teaching sessions each week (over one day) and dedicate at least a further 16 additional hours to completion of directed learning tasks, background reading and preparation for the teaching sessions.

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.

International Opportunities

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.

Further Study

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
  • LPC
  • LLM Human Rights
  • LLM International Business Law
  • PhD

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 Ambassador

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.

Graduate jobs
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.”

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

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.

Learn more about BCUIC

Curzon facilities eatery
Curzon facilities staircase
Curzon facilities student hub

Our Facilities

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

Sarah Cooper Staff Profile Picture 2017 100x150

Dr Sarah Cooper

Interim Director of Research / Reader in Law

Dr Sarah Cooper is a Reader in Law and Interim Director of Research in the School of Law. Sarah teaches English Criminal Law, and leads the School of Law’s modules in American Criminal Procedure and Evidence, and American Legal Practice, which prepares students to be interns in the United States.

Dr Ewan Kirk

Senior Lecturer

Ewan Kirk is currently the Senior Personal Tutor on the LLB Programme within the Law School. Ewan currently teaches EU Law and Intellectual Property Law at undergraduate and postgraduate level. His areas of research interest include intellectual property law and internet law.

Jill Molloy

Senior Lecturer

Jill Molloy is a Senior Lecturer in Law, and LLB Year 1 Tutor. She is the module leader for Evidence, Proof and Argument and co-teaches the lectures in Criminal Law on the LLB.

Sonya Smith

Sonya Smith

Deputy Head of the School of Law (Academic Programme Development)

Sonya Smith is Deputy Head of the School of Law (Academic Programme Development) at Birmingham City University. Prior to joining the University Sonya was previously a solicitor dealing first of all with family law matters, then moving into employers’ liability and personal injury claims.

Helen Munro Staff Profile Picture 100x150

Helen Munro

Associate Professor & SQE Lead

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.