Law - GDL

Graduate Diploma

School of Law

Accredited by the Joint Academic Stage Board as providing the academic stage of qualifying for each branch of the legal profession.

The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course enables students who have acquired a non-law undergraduate degree to complete the academic stage of legal professional education (CPE) in one year (full time) or two years (part time). You can then begin the vocational stage of training as either a solicitor (Legal Practice Course) or barrister (Bar Professional Training Course).

Find out more about postgraduate study at Brookes

We are running a postgraduate open evening on Wednesday 28 February from 16:00-19:30. Book your place here >>

We are also running a GDL specific open day on Saturday 3 March from 11:00-13:00. Book your place here >>

Available start dates

September 2018 / September 2019

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 1 year
  • Part time: 2 years

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You will be taught by our expert and highly-qualified teaching team, with over 25 years' experience of delivering the GDL.
  • We have an active student law society, and a supportive and collegiate learning environment with extensive tutor contact time.
  • We boast a 99%+ pass rate, and 20% above national average rate for number of merit awards and above.
  • You will have access to the world-famous Bodleian Law Library.
  • We have strong links with law firms and barristers' chambers in both London and Oxford. You will also have the option of participating in our solictior and barrister mentoring scheme.
  • You will have opportunities to boost employability skills through participation in internal and national mooting and client interviewing competitions, as well as a national award winning pro bono scheme.

The first week of the GDL is an induction course which includes a study of the English legal system as well as introductory lectures in legal theory, legal writing skills and problem solving. There are also opportunities to explore the city with an Oxford guide and the week is concluded with a welcome reception in Headington Hill Hall. The intensity of the induction course develops a strong sense of community among students.

The induction course is assessed on a pass/fail basis and must be passed before you can start the main body of the course.

The course content is largely prescribed by the Joint Academic Stage Board to fulfil the Foundations of Legal Knowledge. All students are required to study the following subjects:

  • Contract Law covers the fundamental principles of contract law and provides a framework for tackling case studies and legal problem solving. The course examines the principles of formation, operation and termination of contract together with a consideration of the conceptual background to contract law. It is assessed by an exam (100% of the marks) in January.
  • European Union Law provides an introduction to the constitutional and institutional foundations of the EU and a number of key areas of substantive law, chosen because of their centrality in the European Union system. The philosophy underlying the course is the importance of studying EU law in its wider political and socio-economic context. The course begins with an examination of the historical development of the European Union as a legal order and the operation of its institutions. Discussion then focuses on the nature of EU law, its relationship with national law and the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Exploration of substantive law takes in an overview of the internal market of the European Union, including free movement of people and citizenship. The course is delivered during the first semester of the academic year and is assessed by an examination in January (100% of the marks). Students also submit a formative assessment in November.
  • Tort Law considers the rights and interests protected by the law of tort and the forms this protection takes, with regard to both the applicable legal principles and the remedies available. The tort of negligence is studied in detail, as well as employers’ liability, vicarious liability, trespass to land, occupiers’ liability, public nuisance, private nuisance, Rylands-v-Fletcher; trespass to the person, defamation and privacy. The growing influence of human rights law will be considered throughout the course. Assessment is by an exam (100% of the marks) in June.
  • Land Law considers the law affecting land and other forms of property, and the interests and obligations to which they give rise. It deals with land registration, mortgages, leases, easements and profits, and the law of equity and trusts. It considers adverse possession and co-ownership, and looks in outline at the law of leases, and then goes on to examine interests in land such as easements, mortgages and freehold covenants. The course concludes with an examination of the impact of the Human Rights Act on property law. The course is assessed through an examination (100% of the marks) in March or April.
  • Equity and Trusts examines the development and deployment of equity, as a logic of law. In particular, the course deals in detail with the various deployments of the trust-form. It begins with the development of equity and equitable remedies, before beginning the engagement with trusts. Private trusts are analysed in both their express and implied forms. The module looks at how trusts are set up expressly, how they arise by implication and how other equitable interests may arise informally. Once the instances in which a private trust have been exhausted, the module moves on to consider public trusts, in both their purpose trust and charitable form. The module closes with an overview of all trusts, looking at the powers and duties of trustees, breach of trust and the process of tracing. Assessment is through one piece of coursework (30% of the marks) in March and an examination in June (70% of the marks).
  • Criminal Law involves an examination of the general principles underlying criminal liability together with a study of individual offences and defences, with particular reference to offences against the person and offences against property. The course focuses upon a consideration of the general principles of criminal law, such as actus reus and mens rea, and various legal defences. These principles are explored through consideration of particular offences, typically homicide, offences against the person, offences under the Theft Act 1968 and Fraud Act 2006, and inchoate offences. The course is delivered between September and Easter and is assessed by a piece of coursework in late November (15% of the marks) and an examination in March or April (85% of the marks).
  • Public Law encompasses constitutional and administrative law as well as civil liberties and human rights. Constitutional law is the law that relates to the structure or framework of the state and the political and judicial institutions of the state, such as the Crown, parliament, the government, and the Supreme Court. It includes the theories and principles that underpin the constitution, such as the rule of law and the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy. Administrative law is the body of law that deals with the workings of the state, along with the statutory and common law powers and duties of public bodies such as government departments and local authorities as they impinge upon people in their everyday lives. Civil liberties and human rights is concerned with the protection offered by legal, political and administrative means to the liberties of the individual prior to and within the context of the Human Rights Act 1998, with particular focus on freedom of expression, police powers, and freedom of assembly and public order. The course is delivered following the January examinations and is assessed by an examination at the end of June (100% of the marks).
  • Legal Research Project in Another Area of Law allows students to develop legal research skills while gaining knowledge and understanding of another area of law outside the foundations of legal knowledge. Students select a topic of their choice from areas such as employment law, discrimination law, family law, company law, medical law, commercial law, banking law, international trade law, evidence, intellectual property or environmental law. The preparation of a 4,500-word essay with the advice of a member of staff will build on research skills acquired and practised during the first and second terms. It will also allow the student to explore the literature and issues within another area of law agreed and registered with a member of the Law staff. Guidance will be given on recognising issues within the chosen area of law which will be of sufficient scope to sustain a programme of research leading to analysis of the legal issues involved. Submission of the essay two weeks after the June examinations completes the course and assessment is based on the mark awarded for the essay, which equates to one unit of study.

NB: As courses are reviewed regularly, the module list may vary from that shown here.

Teaching and learning

Diverse teaching methods (predominantly two hour lectures and one-and-a-half hour workshops) are employed throughout the GDL programme in order to give you the best opportunity to acquire legal knowledge and skills. 

A number of those teaching on the GDL have qualifications and experience as barristers or solicitors, and a significant number of others hold research degrees.

Assessments (both coursework and exams) are spread throughout the course so that you will have an ongoing awareness of your progress. These teaching and assessment methods are described in the course handbook, and their effectiveness is monitored and analysed by students and staff in the module feedback system and the GDL annual review process.

Specialist facilities

The Oxford Brookes' Law school has its own in-house moot court, facilitating  a realistic and professional context within which students can develop their advocacy skills in front of legal professionals. GDL students at Brookes also have access to the world-famous Bodleian Law Library.

Practical skills

In recognition of the professional nature of the course, our GDL places special emphasis on helping you to gain the legal skills you need to acquire to be a successful lawyer.

Mooting is a must on the CV of any aspiring barrister, and for many aspiring solicitors. Mooting gives you the chance to test your advocacy skills in a safe but exciting environment, and the opportunity to hear other students argue and learn from the questioning of the judges.

The School of Law runs a mooting competition each year and enters its champion mooting team into the English Speaking Union/Essex Court Chambers National Mooting Competition. In 2012 and 2015 the Oxford Brookes GDL Mooting Team won the national final of the English Speaking Union/Essex Court National Mooting Competition, and our GDL students have also twice won the Inner Temple Inter-Varsity Mooting Competition, in 2013 and 2015.

Recently, in an unprecedented and historic event- the unique Magna Carta national moot - two GDL teams from Brookes mooted against each other to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta at the Inner Temple.

Client Interviewing
Client interviewing is one of the key skills which every lawyer needs. GDL students, coached by members of staff, have the opportunity to take part in an annual internal Client Interviewing Competition here at Oxford Brookes. 

The winners of the internal competition go on to take part in the regional and national finals of the Client Interviewing Competition of England and Wales. The winning team from the national finals has the opportunity to go forward to the International Client Consultation Competition which is hosted internationally and which includes students from around the world. 

In recent years Brookes' GDL students have had great success in the National Client Interviewing Competition. They achieved third place in the National Final in both 2009 and 2011, and won the National Final in 2010, going on to be overall runners-up in the International Client Consultation Competition 2010 in Hong Kong. In 2012 the Brookes' student team were overall runners-up in the national final and won the trophy for best GDL team.

Pro Bono Activity 
Pro Bono offers students a valuable introduction to the world of legal practice, and involvement in pro bono work helps to demonstrate to potential employers a student's commitment to the law. 

Students wishing to be involved in pro bono work can do so through our established pro bono scheme, winner of the Solicitors Pro Bono group national award. 

In 2010 and 2013, GDL students were shortlisted for the Attorney General's National Student Pro Bono Awards for 'Best Contribution by an Individual Student' and attended the awards ceremonies at the houses of parliament.

Attendance pattern

All students are expected to be available between 9am and 5pm on the days they are due at the University. Part-time students are fully integrated into the full-time programme. The current teaching schedule is as follows:

  • Public Law – Term 1 (F/T and PT Yr 1)
  • EU Law -  Term 2 (F/T and PT Yr 1)
  • Contract Law – Term 1 (F/T and PT Yr 1)
  • Law of Tort – Terms 2 & 3 (F/T and PT Yr 1)
  • Criminal Law – Terms 1 & 2 (F/T and PT Yr 2)
  • Land Law  - Term 2 (F/T and PT Yr 2)
  • Land Law - Term 1 (F/T and PT Yr 2)
  • Equity & Trusts – Terms 2 & 3 (F/T and PT Yr 2) 

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2018/19: £8,320

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £4,240

International - full time: 2018/19: £8,320

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by approximately 2% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

A scholarship is available for students who will be studying on the Graduate Diploma in Law at Oxford Brookes University in 2018–19.
To enter, please submit a 1,000 maximum word answer to the following question:
In his state trial for treason Sir Thomas More told his judges that he would give 'the devil himself' the benefit of due process of law.  Does the 'viral' transmission of allegations on social media threaten this cornerstone legal principle?  Please give reasons for your answer.
The scholarship is worth £2,000 to be put towards payment of GDL fees and will be awarded for the best 1,000 word essay.
To be eligible to enter the competition, you must have accepted a place on the GDL at Oxford Brookes commencing in 2018–19 by Wednesday 1 August 2018. The deadline for entry into the competition is midday on Tuesday 8 August 2018.
To find out how to enter, the criteria by which essays will be judged and the declaration which you must attach to your essay, please read the terms and conditions document.

Entry requirements

You will normally have, or be predicted to have, a second class degree or above and your application should also demonstrate a commitment to the legal profession.

However, all applications are considered on their merits and we will consider applicants who do not have or may not be predicted to have an upper second class honours degree who can demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a career in the legal profession and who have other strengths or evidence of achievement such as awards, scholarships and work experience - paid or unpaid.

A Certificate of Academic Standing is required for applicants whose intention it is to become a barrister and who do not hold a UK first Degree.  Applicants are strongly advised to apply to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/ as soon as possible for a Certificate of Academic Standing for the GDL as these can take some time to obtain.


Applicants may also be invited to attend an interview.

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Students whose first language is not English will need A-level English, or an IELTS score of 7.0, including a minimum of 6.5 in each component,  or UCLES Certificate of Proficiency in English at grade B or above. This is for all applicants whose first language in not English including those who may have a degree from the UK.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Please note that a £250 deposit will be required from both Home/EU and International students in order to process their applications for September 2016.

Full-time applications

Applications are made through the Central Applications Board, PO Box 84, Guildford, Surrey, GU3 1YX.

Please ensure that you select Oxford Brookes School of Law from the options available.

All potential applicants, and especially those with non-standard qualifications, are advised to consult the Guide to Common Professional Examinations, which can be obtained from the Central Applications Board (CAB).

Important deadlines

There is no closing date for applications, and you may apply at any time through the CAB, but places are subject to availability.

Part-time applications

Applications for the part-time course can be made at any time directly to Oxford Brookes University:

Download the application form for part-time study (PDF)

Download guidance notes on how to apply (PDF)

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

Oxford Brookes has strong links with law firms and barristers' chambers in both London and Oxford and we also offer both a barrister and solicitor mentoring programme.

Events such as the annual Oxford University Law Fair and Oxford Brookes Law Fair further enhance opportunities for professional networking.


Having completed the GDL most students go on to become solicitors or barristers by taking the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

Training contracts
Many of our students come to the GDL having already obtained training contracts with solicitors’ firms,  and their GDL studies are funded by these firms. Recent students have secured training contracts at firms such as Clifford Chance LLP, Freshfields and Blake Morgan.

Scholarships for barristers
Oxford Brookes GDL students going to the bar are exceptionally successful in securing much sought-after funding and scholarships. Each year a significant proportion of Brookes students gain prestigious scholarships through the Inns of Court. Recent students have gained pupillages at a number of well reputed barrister chambers including Quadrant Chambers, 4 Pump Court and XXIV Old Buildings.

Further careers options with law
A small number of our students use the legal knowledge and analytical skills gained through the GDL course to pursue a business, public sector or financial career, or continue on to further academic study.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Our GDL course is sufficiently small to create a friendly and supportive, collegial atmosphere - especially when compared to some of the very large national GDL providers. 

As a university, we understand the need for greater teaching contact time and for you to have regular face-to-face contact with your tutors. The course is designed so that you will study three to four subjects each term, thus allowing you time for in-depth study of each area and enabling a spread of assessment over the course of the year.

Full-time or part-time

If you choose to study for the GDL on a part-time basis you will benefit from two full days teaching per week, so that you are fully integrated into the full-time programme. By the end of the course you will have received exactly the same content, support and teaching input as your full-time colleagues.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Research highlights

There is a wide range of research interests among staff, with particular strengths in the areas of public law, international law and human rights, employment, religion and the law, criminal justice, and IT and the law. In the latest government research rating exercise, the 2014 REF, 85% of staff research output is internationally recognised.

Professor Peter Edge researches in the interaction of religion and law, and the law of small jurisdictions including International Finance Centres. Recent projects exploring these at the transnational level have included a study of foreign lawyers working in small jurisdictions, and a comparative study of the status of ministers of religion in employment law. Past PhD students have worked on projects such as a comparison of the European Convention on Human Rights and Shariah, and a comparative study of how criminal law treats religion.

Professor Lucy Vickers’ research into the religious discrimination at work has led to consultancy work for Equality and Human Rights Commission, as well invitations to speak at United Nations with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief. 

Sonia Morano-Foadi, interviewed and quoted in The Economist, secured £12,000 from the European Science Foundation to fund exploratory work into the effects of EU directives on migration and asylum.

Professor Ilona Cheyne has been invited to participate in the EU COST group on 'Fragmentation, Politicisation and Constitutionalisation of International Law', working on standards of review in international courts and tribunals.

Research areas and clusters

Research degrees can be undertaken in the following areas:

  • Access to justice
  • Accountability
  • Company law
  • Comparative constitutions
  • Criminal justice
  • Family law
  • Human rights
  • Information law
  • International economic law
  • International law and policy
  • International trade and commercial law
  • International and European environmental law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Law and religion
  • Migration
  • Workplace rights and employment law
  • WTO law