Postgraduate Diploma in Law / LLM Professional Law - GDL/CPE / LLM/PGDL *

Full Time, Part Time
September 2017
£5,266 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2017 entry (view all fees)

Don’t have a qualifying law degree, but want to pursue a career in either the legal profession or academia? Our Postgraduate Diploma in Law / LLM Professional Law course, which incorporates the Common Professional Examination, will provide you with a Master’s-level qualification and aid your career progression.

While most providers deliver the course at graduate level as the Common Professional Examination / Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), we have designed this course so that successful completion provides both a qualification at Master’s level and professional body accreditation.

If you don’t wish to undertake the full LLM, or do not require a postgraduate loan, we also offer a Common Practice Examination / Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL). However, you will not be able to get a postgraduate loan unless you enrol on the LLM version of the course.

Both the LLM and PGDL versions of the course are accredited by the Joint Academic Stage Board, which represents the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales, and upon completion you are eligible to undertake the next stage of legal training (the Legal Practice course if you want to become a solicitor or the Bar Professional Training course if you want to become a barrister).

If you study full-time, you can complete either the LLM or the PGDL versions of the course in one calendar year.

Why Choose Us?

  • You’ll have regular support from tutors in a friendly and supportive learning environment.
  • The course is focused on practice-led, skills-based teaching and assessment.
  • You may have the opportunity to undertake a placement in the UK and/or an internship in the US, strengthening your employability prospects.
  • You’ll also have the chance to get involved with pro-bono projects in the UK, as well as other legal work experience that contributes towards your final award for the course.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 26 April 2017, between 2pm and 7pm. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities. You can't book your place just yet, but register your interest and we'll send you an email when you can book.

Register your interest

This course is open to International students

School of Law

Discover the School of Law

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

*Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • My Home More

And in jobs such as:

  • Conveyancer

New £10,000 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,000 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Subject to approval

The content of this course has been refreshed and updated to make sure you graduate with the skills employers need in an ever-changing job market.

Our quality control experts are currently reviewing the content and we anticipate receiving formal approval shortly.

Find out more...

Entry Requirements

You are required to meet one of the following options:

UK students

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

For International students, IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum score of 6.0 in each category), or equivalent will also be required for students whose first language is not English.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
GDL/CPE Sep 2017 FT 1 Year £5,266 per year
PT 2 Years £2,633 per year
LLM/PGDL Sep 2017 FT 1 year £7,900 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
LLM/PGDL Sep 2017 FT 1 year TBC

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

You will need to apply online direct to the university for this course. A link to the form will be available soon as well as details of the course fee. We'd like to send you an email once the link is available to save you checking back - just sign up for an update.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Additional costs

Students are required to purchase textbooks for each module, which range from roughly £30. Although not required, on some modules students may be advised to purchase a ‘cases and materials’ book, but second-hand versions are often appropriate.

The US placement also requires students to self-finance travel and accommodation while they are there. 

Find additional costs for your course

This course is available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Stage One - Full Time

The following modules apply to Full Time students.

Criminal Law
20 credits
Constitutional and Administrative Law
20 credits
Law of Obligations
20 credits

Stage Two - Full Time

The following modules apply to Full Time students.

Property Law
20 credits
Law of the EU
20 credits
Optional Module
20 credits

The following optional modules are all worth 20 credits each:

  • American Legal Placement
  • UK Legal Placement
  • Independent Research Project

Stage Three - Full Time

The following modules apply to Full Time students.

Advanced Legal Research
20 credits
Dissertation or Extended Placement Module
40 credits

Part Time - All Stages

The following modules apply to Part Time students.

Stage One

Law of Obligations
20 credits

Stage Two

Property Law
20 credits

Stage Three

Constitutional and Administrative Law
20 credits
Criminal Law
20 credits

Stage Four

Law of the EU
20 credits
Optional Module
20 credits

The following optional modules are all worth 20 credits:

  • American Legal Placement,
  • UK Legal Placement
  • Independent Research Project

Stage Five

Advanced Legal Research
20 credits
Dissertation or Extended Placement Module
40 credits

Course Structure

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 (the PGDL stage) 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 hours of face-to-face teaching sessions each week (spread over two afternoons) 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 hours of face-to-face teaching sessions each week (over one afternoon) and dedicate at least a further 16 additional hours to completion of directed learning tasks, background reading and preparation for the teaching sessions.

For those who have enrolled on the CPE/LLM version of the course, in semester three you will undertake an online course on advanced legal research methods/practical legal research, and either a dissertation or an extended placement and reflective piece of writing on your placement experiences.

Students choosing the dissertation option will need to communicate with their supervisor on regular occasions throughout the module. 

Our course is accredited by the Joint Academic Stage Board (representing the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority and the Bar Standards Board).

International Opportunities

Our American Legal Practice module provides you with the opportunity to undertake an internship in the United States, where you could gain work experience in a law office, innocence project or judge’s chambers.

You will also have the opportunity to undertake a US placement, which will be available from June to August (which means you would not receive your final award until September). The placement also requires you to fund your travel and living costs.

Further Study

Upon completion of the GDL, 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 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.

Employment Opportunities

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 GDL includes several ways you can help improve your employability: 

  • Graduate Plus Scheme
  • US internship (within an optional module)
  • UK work placement (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 Examination (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.

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

Dr Sarah Cooper

Senior Lecturer in Law

Dr Sarah Cooper is a Senior Lecturer in Law and Director of Mooting. Sarah leads Criminal Law on the LLB and carries out her research in the Centre for American Legal Studies. She co-teaches American Criminal Procedure and American Legal Practice.

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; Year 1 LLB Tutor and Admissions Tutor

Jill Molloy is a Senior Lecturer in Law, Programme Director of the LLB four year degree recognised by the Bar Council of India, Year Tutor on the LLB and Admissions Tutor for the LLB. She leads Evidence, Proof and Argument and co-teaches the lectures in Criminal Law on the LLB.

Stephen Swann

Dr Stephen Swann

Senior Lecturer

Dr Stephen Swann lectured at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Leicester and the University of Dundee before becoming a teaching and research fellow at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany. He has been a Research Assistant within the Property and Trust Law Team at the Law Commission.

Luci Kartar-Hyett

Luci Kartar-Hyett


Luci Kartar-Hyett is a lecturer in Law. Her current area of expertise is in the delivery of lectures in Equity & Trusts, as well as conducting seminars with students in EU law and land law.

Mark Eccleston-Turner

Mark Eccleston-Turner


Mark Eccleston-Turner is a Lecturer in Law. His main research interests are in global health law, medical law and public law. Mark lectures in Public Law and English legal System and Practice.

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.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295