Law Conversion Course - GDL

updated on 07 March 2024

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Law conversion courses offered by legal education providers are designed to get non-law graduates up to speed on the legal profession before moving onto either:

There are a variety of law conversion courses on offer, the most common now known as the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) – this was formerly called the Graduate Diploma in Law. With the introduction of the SQE, there are now a range of available courses for future solicitors that combine the conversion course with SQE preparation and/or a master’s degree. Alternatively, you might complete a conversion course and go on to take a separate SQE preparation course afterwards.

Confused? Don’t be. It just means that aspiring solicitors have more choice on how they develop their legal knowledge before taking the SQE and qualifying into the profession.

There’s more on the SQE and conversion courses with this Feature.

Another thing to note is that in the past it was compulsory for non-law graduates to complete a conversion course in order to become a solicitor. This is no longer the case. The official law conversion course requirements changed for aspiring solicitors following the introduction of the SQE, with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) stipulating that a law conversion course is no longer compulsory.

Technically this means that you could sit the SQE assessments without having had any form of preparation or introduction to the legal profession. But it’s certainly not advised! We recommend that non-law students complete a conversion course ahead of starting SQE preparation and taking the assessments to give themselves the best chance of success – see below for more information.

If you’re an aspiring barrister having completed a non-law degree, a law conversion course is a compulsory part of the pathway to qualification.

Find out more about the career path to becoming a barrister


The SQE is a centralised system of exams that all prospective solicitors must pass to qualify.

To qualify via the SQE, candidates must:

  • have a university degree or equivalent in any subject (law or non-law);
  • pass the character and suitability assessment set by the SRA (this is the same as the old system);
  • pass SQE1 and SQE2; and
  • have two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE).

The SQE isn’t a course like a law degree, PGDL or the Legal Practice Course (LPC) – it’s a series of exams. This means that people with no previous legal training are unlikely to pass the SQE without additional preparation (even law graduates are being encouraged to complete a preparation course). Therefore, the PGDL and other similar law conversion courses are still a necessary stage of the journey for non-law graduates. In fact, some firms will even require their future trainees to complete a conversion course (for non-law students) and SQE prep before the attempt the SQE assessments.

You can read how Rachel Hii, a future trainee, found the SQE prep course at The University of Law, in this LCN Says. Plus, Chris Eaton outlines how the LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) is structured and more in this LCN Says.  

Many legal education providers have developed non-law-specific preparation courses, which incorporate the PGDL, or aspects of it, to prepare non-law students for further SQE prep and the SQE assessments. For example: 

  • BPP University Law School has a few options for non-law graduates, including its Law Conversion Course and LLM Law Conversion with SQE1.
  • The University of Law’s Postgraduate Diploma in Law is a law conversion course that provides the foundation for non-law graduates to progress onto either its SQE1 Preparation Course, LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&SQE2) or a Bar course. The University of Law also has an MA Law (SQE1) course which includes The University of Law’s SQE1 Preparation Course and is designed for non-law graduates who want to qualify as a solicitor and gain a legal qualification at master’s level. It also guarantees four weeks of QWE within the university’s legal advice clinic and allows students to progress onto the education provider’s LLM Legal Practice (SQE1 and SQE2).
  • Nottingham Law School’s LLM Law and Legal Practice: SQE1 Preparation Course has been designed to prepare non-law graduates for the centralised SQE1 assessments.

Use LCN’s guide to SQE preparation courses to help you compare preparation courses based on location, cost and content, or use the courses search tool!

Other courses are more vocational and can therefore be taken by both law and non-law graduates – in which case people converting to law may find themselves taking two postgraduate courses to become solicitors.

Continue to check for updates about these courses on the providers’ websites and LawCareers.Net – we’ll have the information you need as soon as it’s available.


If you’re a non-law graduate who’s interested in a career as a barrister, you must complete the PGDL before you can progress onto a vocational Bar course.

Students must start the Bar course stage of training within five years of completing the PGDL.

Whichever route you take, remember that it’s an intensive, demanding process.


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