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.
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
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 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.
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)
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