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The Oracle

Non-law students: SQE and law conversion courses

updated on 09 April 2024

Dear Oracle

I’m a non-law student qualifying via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) – do I still need to do a law conversion course?

The Oracle replies

The short answer is no. However, the reality is more complicated than that.

You’ve probably seen that the old way of doing things – that is, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course – has been phased out since the introduction of the SQE in 2021.

Non-law students qualifying via the SQE route are no longer required to complete a law conversion course (like the GDL) to take the SQE. That said, they’re being encouraged to either complete a law conversion course or appropriate SQE preparation course to give themselves the best chance of passing the SQE.

Want to convert to law? Find out about the law conversion courses on offer at The University of Law

So, rather than there being one mandatory conversion course, there are now a range of law conversion courses that incorporate elements of the GDL and SQE preparation.

Here are some examples of postgraduate courses for non-law graduates that’ll prepare you to take the SQE:

  • The University of Law’s MA Law (SQE1) is a law conversion course, which also includes SQE1 preparation to get students ready for the SQE1 assessments. You can also take a more general MA Law (Conversion) course if you wish to later study a separate SQE preparation course.
  • BPP University Law School’s LLM Law Conversion with SQE1 which combines the PGDL with SQE1 preparation. You’d then go on to take an SQE2 preparation course.
  • BARBRI’s Foundations in Law course can be taken as a standalone course or as part of a bundle with the SQE1 Prep course. The six-week course is suitable for non-law graduates wanting to gain foundational legal knowledge before embarking on the SQE.
  • Nottingham Law School’s Law and Legal Practice: SQE1 Preparation Course LLM has been designed specifically for non-law graduates – students will study the seven core modules of a law degree, followed by the six subject areas that make up SQE1’s Functioning Legal Knowledge assessments.

While these SQE preparation courses aren’t compulsory, they are recommended. They’ll help to fill the knowledge gap and ensure that non-law graduates are well prepared to take the SQE exams.

Choosing the right SQE preparation course provider for you is crucial. There are many factors to consider, including cost, content, study options and location – you can use LawCareers.Net’s guide to SQE preparation courses as a starting point. Please note, the list of courses in the guide isn’t exhaustive and it’s important that you seek out non-law-specific courses to give yourself the best chance of success.

And don’t forget that if you secure a training contract or qualifying work experience with a law firm before embarking on the SQE, it’s likely that the firm will choose and fund the relevant conversion and SQE preparation courses, as well as the cost of the SQE assessment themselves.   

There's more on conversion courses and SQE preparation with this Feature: ‘GDL and SQE: what’s going on with conversion courses?.