What you learn

updated on 01 February 2023

Use the sub menu above to find out more about who is eligible, what you learn, where to study and more!


This information applies to non-law graduates pursuing the barrister route and non-law graduates pursuing the solicitor route who meet the SRA’s transitional arrangements (ie, you started your GDL on or before 31 December 2021).

The GDL is equivalent to a law degree. It focuses on the seven foundations of legal knowledge that represent the basic knowledge requirements for the LPC (with modified versions of the GDL in development to prepare students for the SQE). These are:

  • contract law;
  • tort law;
  • criminal law;
  • equity and trusts law;
  • European Union law;
  • Property/land law; and
  • Public law (also known as constitutional and administrative law).

The GDL is set internally by the individual institution. For full-time students, the final examination will normally comprise a three-hour paper in each of the seven core areas. All papers will usually need to be passed on the same occasion. Although you have up to three years to complete the GDL, you’ll not be allowed to attempt any paper more than three times.

Part-time and distance-learning GDL students must attend a recognised course that lasts two years. Exams in four foundation subjects must be passed in the first year and the remaining three areas in the second year. Part-time and distance-learning students must complete the GDL course in no more than four years. All students successfully completing the GDL will be awarded a diploma in law.

Find out more

Who is eligible

Where to study

Law school sponsorship

When and how to apply